OTREC remembers Nohad A. Toulan
Nohad Toulan’s influence on Portland State University and the wider community can be seen not only in the school bearing his name, the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, but also in the holistic approach to transportation research and education that would help cement Portland’s innovative reputation and shape its transportation center, OTREC.
Toulan, emertitus dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, and his wife, Dirce, both died Monday. He was 81 and she was 78.
Toulan helped pave the way for the creation of OTREC by stressing the value of human development, said Robert Bertini, OTREC’s founding director. “Our focus on emphasizing people, on building and encouraging the development of faculty, students and collaborators outside the university, that was directly influenced by the atmosphere created by Dean Toulan,” Bertini said.
Portland State’s Urban Plaza embodies Toulan’s vision of an urban university connected with its city. There, the college’s lessons spill out into a vibrant plaza interwoven with transit and the life of Portland.
OTREC’s—and Portland State’s—reputation for multidisciplinary, collaborative transportation research grew thanks in part to Toulan’s efforts. Toulan extended Bertini, an engineering professor, a joint appointment the College of Urban and Public Affairs. “He said, ‘I need an engineer in my college,’” Bertini said.
“That was a remarkable signal of the value he placed on bringing in a whole range of viewpoints into the enterprise.”