For this edition of our Engaging U spotlight we meet Laurie McGinnis, Director of the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS). In the interview below, McGinnis provides highlights of her center's engagement work on a project of regional significance.
1) Describe the work of your office.
The Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) was created in 1987 to address the need for closer cooperation between University faculty and state and federal departments of transportation, and to strengthen the University's role in transportation research and education. Our mission is to be a catalyst for transportation innovation through research, education, and outreach.
CTS uses a broad participatory structure to engage practitioners, stakeholders, policymakers, private industry, and communities with University faculty, staff, and students on the transportation issues of today and tomorrow. Our partners view us as an objective convener around transportation topics with the ability to facilitate discussions that lead to solutions.
2) What is a current engagement project your unit is working on?
Ed Goetz, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, and I are co-leading the University of Minnesota's evaluation team as part of the metropolitan area's "Corridors of Opportunity" initiative (www.corridorsofopportunity.org). It is an initiative to promote sustainable, vibrant, and healthy communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, using the region's emerging transitway system as a development focus. Funded by a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Integration Initiative funds from Living Cities (a collaboration of 22 of the nation's largest foundations and financial institutions) the Corridors of Opportunity initiative runs from 2011 to 2013.
The evaluation will address both the systems-change dimensions of the Corridors of Opportunity initiative as well as the tangible impacts on quantitative indicators documenting changes in the region.
The objectives are to:
- Evaluate the impact of the Corridors of Opportunity initiative;
- Provide data or outcome reporting required by HUD;
- Coordinate data, data collection, measures and indicators of activity related to Corridors of Opportunity and its projects, leveraging other data collection efforts; and
- Provide the Corridors of Opportunity Policy Board ongoing formative evaluation to inform the evolution of the Corridors of Opportunity initiative.
3) What impact is this project having/expect to have?
The vision of the initiative is that transit way corridors will guide our region's growth, vitality and competitiveness. Development along transit ways will create distinctive places and strengthen local assets while increasing ridership and expanding access to jobs, affordable housing and essential services for residents of all incomes and backgrounds.