Moving America forward

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November 10, 2010

The man President Obama has charged with driving the transportation industry forward eagerly squeezed behind the wheel of Bradley’s ultra-light urban vehicle Wednesday in a meaningful endorsement of the University’s own efforts to revolutionize America’s automobiles.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a 1971 Bradley University graduate, met Wednesday with the students and industry leaders crucial to his mission during an Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service national public policy symposium, titled “The Future of Midwest Transportation.”

During a keynote speech before hundreds of people, the secretary spoke passionately about the $500 billion federal transportation bill coming before Congress, but said afterward that the most important speakers at the event were Bradley students.

“These are the people who are going to be planning our roads, bridges, and high-speed rail, and really they’re the innovators,” said LaHood. “They’re going to be the smart people sitting in the driver’s seat when it comes to future transportation and to have them involved here gives them the kind of momentum and energy they need to fulfill these important tasks.”

Another guest speaker at Wednesday’s event is proof that Bradley has been producing leaders in the transportation industry for decades. As chief technology officer for Caterpillar Inc., Tana Utley ‘86 is behind the global manufacturer’s ambitious efforts to improve efficiency and bring America’s infrastructure up to increasingly impressive world standards. Utley said that by hosting the symposium, Bradley is already playing an important role in the future of transportation.

“Another role Bradley has is what it does best, and that’s education. To provide educational opportunities for students, for legislators, for people in industry and to educate them on what the issues of the day are and I would say to provide a balanced, apolitical perspective,” said Utley.

IPL Executive Director Brad McMillan said the purpose of the symposium is to provide a line of communication between local leaders and national policymakers.

“We asked each of the speakers to include in their remarks specific recommendations for Mr. LaHood that would benefit Central Illinois and the Midwest,” said McMillan. “The six-year federal transportation bill is going to be on the front burner soon, and we have provided some very specific public policy recommendations for it.”