Sept. 14, 2015

Roper Center public opinion archive comes to Cornell

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research – the world’s largest public opinion archive – will move from the University of Connecticut to Ithaca, where it will be known as the Roper Center at Cornell University, and casually as Roper@Cornell, on Nov. 7.

Founded in 1947, the Roper Center is a leading archive of social science data from public opinion surveys. The center collects, preserves and disseminates public opinion data and helps improve the practice of survey research. It holds data dating from the 1930s to the present, and its collection includes more than 22,000 datasets – almost half of which are international public opinion polls.

Peter Enns, associate professor of government and the first executive director of the Roper Center at Cornell, said: “Faculty and students will benefit by being able to work directly with Roper Center staff to most effectively incorporate the public opinion data into their research and teaching. In addition to the thousands of surveys available through the Roper Center, the center will work with faculty and graduate students on grant proposals, course planning and research, as well as provide research-based employment opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.”

Faculty support was a crucial element of the successful proposal to bring the center to Cornell, according to Robert Buhrman, Cornell’s senior vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy.

“Bringing the Roper Center to Cornell was a faculty-driven initiative that garnered enthusiastic backing from social scientists across the university and, as the result, received strong support for this transition to Cornell from three colleges, with matching support from the university,” Buhrman said. “I am very grateful for Peter Enns’ leadership of this new interdisciplinary initiative for Cornell, which will provide our researchers with expanded, in-depth access to a truly unique resource.”

Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, added, “The Roper Center is a perfect fit with Cornell’s strong commitment to public engagement, social science research and teaching, and interdisciplinary collaboration across the university.”

After the University of Connecticut ended its relationship with the Roper Center, Cornell was selected to house the center following a highly competitive selection process that involved a detailed proposal and a site visit by Roper Center board members.

“The Roper board of directors and I were particularly impressed with Cornell’s strong commitment to the core mission of the Roper Center and its pledge to enhance and expand center services to its members and users,” said Robert Y. Shapiro, Roper Center board chair. “Already Cornell is assembling a strong leadership team led by Peter Enns to take the center to the next level of service, including efforts to expand its membership base. As a consequence, we expect the center to play an even larger role in scholarship and public service in the years ahead.”

According to Enns, “The Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER) was instrumental to the success of the proposal and will be the new administrative home for Roper@Cornell. CISER is one of the oldest university-based social science data archives in the world, and the Roper Center is here for the long haul.”

“Because Cornell’s Survey Research Institute (SRI) conducts surveys and the Roper Center archives them, the two units will remain independent,” said CISER Director William Block. “But both centers clearly enhance public opinion research, teaching and public outreach on Cornell’s campus, and will work together when appropriate. The combined presence of Roper@Cornell, SRI and CISER on campus signals strength for Cornell social science.”

The Roper Center earns membership revenue, and its transition to Cornell is being supported by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Human Ecology and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Enns said it is expected the center will be self-sustaining in three to five years through dues, grants, fundraising and careful management of expenses.