William L. Garrison Remembered at TRB

September 14, 2017

Friends, colleagues, students and family of William L. Garrison gathered for a memorial celebration at the Transportation Research Board in January. Garrison, UC Berkeley professor emeritus in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, former director of Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies and former TRB Chair, died on Feb. 1, 2015 in Lafayette, CA. He was 90.

Garrison joined the CEE faculty as a Professor in 1973. That same year he was appointed director of the Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering (ITTE) (the predecessor of the Institute of Transportation Studies), a position he held for 7 years. He retired from Berkeley in 1991.

Although his work at Berkeley was focused on how innovation and technological change occurs in the field of transportation, he was well known earlier in his career for leading the so-called “quantitative revolution” in geography.

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) will also hold a tribute in memory of Garrison on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 5:20 p.m. in San Francisco, CA (Room TBD) during the AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The session will be open to non-AAG members.

During the TRB memorial, several former students and colleagues spoke, as well as family members. See the full video.

Former student and colleague, Martin Wachs (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs): I think of Bill Garrison as a teacher of teachers in transportation and I am thankful to have had the benefit of being his student. He guided me thoughtfully during my academic career.

Former student David Levinson (faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota): I have come to realize that there are no original ideas in transportation, they were all anticipated by Bill Garrison and his students in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s Bill Garrison’s world, and we are just living in it.

Former student Dan Sperling (TRB Chair, Director ITS Davis): For me, he provided the intellectual framework that I have followed in my academic career. I am really indebted to him because all his ideas about innovation, systems, process of change, all of that is what I’ve fully embraced in everything I do.

Academic granddaughter Susan Hanson (Distinguished University Professor Emerita Graduate School of Geography Clark University): Garrison’s influence really infused the whole discipline of geography. I was really impressed to actually meet him because he obviously influenced not just me, but a whole field of study.

Former student Jonathon Gifford (Professor; Director, Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy George Mason University): I feel very lucky to have encountered him in that random act as my advisor and that he stuck with me all thee years.

Former colleague Elizabeth Deakin (Professor emeriti of City and Regional Planning UC Berkeley): Bill believed in the power of change, and he helped it happen. He was supportive of dreamers and not put off by failure. He was politely disinterested in the conventional and the cautious. His sense of humor was always present, as was his basic decency and kindness.

Former student Brian Taylor (Professor of Urban Planning; Director, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; Director, Institute of Transportation Studies UCLA): In this era of fast talking heads with hastily formed opinions on seemingly every subject, movies that have quick cuts from one scene to another and research that sometimes favors volume and velocity of publication over depth and significance, I think Bill really stood out in sharp relief as a scholar from another era that was completely different.