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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
administrator. He founded and directed the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State, which was a source of significant funding for research, mostly on highways and bridges. As a result of this research, Larson published some 100 reports, technical papers, and journal articles, as well as one textbook.
From 1979 to 1987, Dr. Larson was secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under Governor Richard Thornburgh. During that time, he was recognized by the National Governors Association as “Outstanding State Cabinet Official” and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He returned to Penn State as a chaired professor in 1987.
In 1989, Dr. Larson retired from Penn State as Pennsylvania Professor Emeritus of government and Management and professor emeritus of civil engineering. On August 10 of that year, he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as the twelfth administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), responsible for the overall management of the organization, including the Federal Highway Aid Program. While at FHWA, he was involved in the development of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, one of the top items on Bush’s domestic agenda. The measure was signed into law in 1991.
Larson was named Construction Man of the Year (1982) by Engineering News Record; Man of the Year (1985) by the International Road Federation; Outstanding Pennsylvania Government Official (1985) by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce; recipient of the George S. Bartlett Award for Highway Progress (1989); a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (1989); distinguished alumnus of Pennsylvania State University (1990); recipient of the William N. Carey Jr. Distinguished Service Award (1992); and recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers Medal (1993).
In addition to his regular membership in NAE (1985), he was councillor and a member of the Executive Committee of the NAE Council; a member of the Charles Stark Draper Prize Committee; and a fellow of the National Academies Committee