The University of Vermont Transportation Research Center team was very saddened to hear of the passing of former Vermont Senator James Jeffords, who was instrumental in the creation of the Transportation Research Center. His leadership and hard work on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee led to two significant programs that allowed us to begin our research in transportation and workforce development.
The first was the funding of the UVM Transportation Research Center as a US DOT National University Transportation Center in the 2005 “transportation bill” SAFETEA-LU. UVM built upon this foundation to create a nationally recognized Center that continues to evolve and advance innovative and interdisciplinary research. The Center today provides education and outreach on sustainable transportation system solutions, and focuses on transportation planning as it relates to resilience, energy and health. The continuing work of the TRC remains a tribute to the foresight and belief that Senator Jeffords had to invest in long-term solutions for the nation’s infrastructure.
The second was the inclusion of funding in SAFETEA-LU for the Transportation Education Development Pilot Program, which funded a small set of innovative efforts to take the transportation workforce into the 21st century. UVM was competitively chosen to be one of just five pilots in the country to undertake this work that aimed to diversify the transportation workforce and target populations that are not represented in this field.
In the early start-up days of the TRC, Senator Jeffords shared our office space in Farrell Hall on UVM’s Trinity Campus. Dr. Lisa Aultman-Hall, the founding Director of the Center, fondly recalls Senator Jeffords’ presence and interactions with the Center. “His genuine pleasure and excitement at the focus on sustainable transportation and our plans as we started the Center will remain an inspiring memory.”
The Transportation Research Center is just one of many University organizations that were supported or influenced by Senator Jeffords. Below, UVM President Tom Sullivan wrote a heartfelt letter to the University community to express the gratitude owed to the Senator and the sadness we all felt upon learning of his passing.
To: The University of Vermont Campus Community
From: Tom Sullivan, President
Re: Senator James M. Jeffords
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Senator James M. Jeffords, one of Vermont’s foremost public servants. Senator Jeffords loyally served this state for 40 years, beginning with his campaign for the State Senate in 1966 and concluding with his retirement from the United States Senate in 2006.
Senator Jeffords had a special relationship with the University of Vermont. He leaves behind a rich legacy of generosity and support from which we all benefit. He was responsible for years of federally directed funds that made many UVM endeavors possible. He was dedicated to issues of education, the environment, and agriculture, and he helped the University to pursue research in those critical areas. We remember his work through the UVM Transportation Research Center, The James M. Jeffords Center for Policy Research, and for countless other projects in schools and colleges across the University. We can visually remember his contributions to UVM as we work and learn in the state of the art James M. Jeffords Hall on central campus. This building, that bears his name, has supported students and faculty in furthering critical agricultural education and research, for which he was infinitely proud. Finally, we should recognize Senator Jeffords’ dedication to the University’s land grant mission. He truly grasped that the University exists in order to translate knowledge, research, and discoveries into practical solutions for society’s challenges and supported us in that effort for many years. We are indebted to his kindness and fortunate to gain the benefits of his legacy throughout the University.
Our condolences go out to the Jeffords family, to his many friends across this institution, throughout the state of Vermont, and nationally. Please join me in celebrating his life and his lasting contributions to the University of Vermont.