Looking Back; and Forward

David Redlawsk was Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling for 7 years. As of August 1, 2016, he is James R. Soles Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

As was announced last month, I am leaving Rutgers to head to the University of Delaware. This means I am also leaving the Directorship of ECPIP, home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. While ECPIP is much more than the poll, that’s what has defined us since it started in 1971. This is not surprising, since the Poll is the most public part of what we do. As one of the (if not THE) oldest academic-based state-focused survey research centers in the country, ECPIP has provided a wealth of information to the public about just what’s going on in the Garden State. As you can see on the ECPIP website, there is even an archive of Rutgers-Eagleton Polls, available to anyone interested, and going back to the very first one. Granted, the archive interface reminds one of the early 1990s web, but the data behind it are incredibly useful.

So this is my last post on our blog. We started the blog a few months after I arrived in 2009 as a way to communicate our findings to the broader public. Since that time ECPIP, under the direct efforts of first Mona Kleinberg (now at UMass Lowell) and then Ashley Koning (now ECPIP’s Interim Director) ECPIP has branched out into social media on Twitter and Facebook, and this blog has become mostly a place where press releases are posted.  But I think it has served a useful purpose.

As I sign off from ECPIP, I have to thank Mona and Ashley and so many other graduate and undergraduate students who have been the backbone of the poll, and of whom we’ve all been so proud as they played a key role in keeping us going. While there are too many to name here, the current staff can be seen at the ECPIP website. I also have to thanks Bill Valocchi, who served as our Field Manager for several years and organized the call center, and Debbie Borie-Holtz, who continues as ECPIP’s special projects manager. Both were critical to whatever success we have had. And a special mention to now Rutgers graduate, and NORC staff member, Liz Kantor, who as an undergraduate became our statistician, among many other roles.

I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to lead ECPIP and the support from Ruth Mandel, the Eagleton Institute’s Director, and John Weingart, Associate Director for the Institute. Coming to Eagleton was a special privilege since it also was a return to the University and Department where I had completed my Ph.D.

We had our ups and downs over the past seven years, but who hasn’t? I like to think that our team revived the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in very challenging times and again positioned it as an important source for New Jersey and the nation in understanding what’s going on in this interesting state. Perhaps I am lucky that my time has overlapped the two terms of Chris Christie, which meant we never ran out of things to study and interest in what we had to say was often very high.

In any case, while I had not anticipated leaving after only 7 years, the possibility of leading an academic department has always interested me. Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware is a vibrant department with a group of scholar/teachers engaged in fascinating research and top-notch teaching. I am looking forward to joining them, though the transition is bittersweet as I leave Rutgers.

To those of you who have read our blog, or our press releases, or anything else we’ve done over the last 7 years, I say thanks. And I also say that in many ways the best is yet to come for ECPIP. I am thrilled that Ashley Koning is taking the helm; she will build the center in new ways that recognize the many changes happening in survey research and public polling. It should be an exciting time for ECPIP even as it is an exciting time for me as I get ready to move to the First State.

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