August 27, 2014
Transportation students, faculty, researchers, staff, friends and family celebrated Professor Samer Madanat’s nine years as Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies in UC Berkeley’s Banatao Auditorium on Monday,
Madanat, who stepped down as director on June 30, was praised by Vice Chancellor of Research Graham Fleming, as well as Professor Alexandre Bayen who succeeded Madanat in the director’s position.
Fleming opened the program by noting how Madanat had managed to hold the institute together when things “looked black, and to grab new opportunities” when they arose. Nine years as ITS director, particularly during periods of financial cutbacks, Fleming joked, must qualify as “cruel and inhuman punishment.”
ITS Assistant Director, Laura Melendy, Vice Chancellor of Research, Graham Fleming, former ITS Director Samer Madanat and ITS Director Alexandre Bayen
Bayen praised Madanat’s leadership and vision during his lengthy service to the institute. “He brought people together and he was able to look into the future,” he said.
As an example of those two qualities, Bayen described Madanat’s success in creating several new research centers, including the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, where researchers focus on alternative fuels and vehicles as well as new modes of transportation like bikesharing and carsharing.
Bayen also noted Madanat’s success in developing a $6.5 million multi-campus research program initiative in the area of transportation sustainability, as well as his work evaluating the controversial California high-speed rail program for the state legislature.
Finally, Bayen praised Madanat for mentoring a number of young faculty in the early stages of their careers.
After receiving a plaque honoring his years of service, Madanat addressed the crowd, and with characteristic modesty said he did not deserve so much credit.
“Transportation is a very inter-disciplinary field, and here at Berkeley we have many very smart and creative people in areas such as electrical engineering, psychology, public health, public policy, mechanical engineering, economics and many other fields,” he said.
“My job was to bring these people together and watch them create magic.”
A reception followed the ceremony.