Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

U-M’s Groves confirmed as U.S. Census Bureau chief

The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed U-M survey expert Robert Groves as director of the Census Bureau, where he will oversee the 2010 nationwide head count, a $15 billion enterprise.

In May Groves resigned as director of the Survey Research Center at U-M’s Institute for Social Research (ISR), a position he had held since 1992.

“Bob’s appointment to the important job of Census director is a great honor to the University of Michigan and to ISR,” says ISR Director James Jackson. “We are fortunate that U-M sociologist James House has agreed to serve as interim Survey Research Center director while we search for Bob’s permanent replacement.”

Groves, 60, is the third Ann Arborite to serve as Census director. Barbara Everitt Bryant held the post from 1989-93, and Martha Farnsworth Riche served in that position from 1994-98.

An internationally recognized expert in scientific survey sampling, Groves also is a professor of sociology at LSA.

The author, co-author or editor of several classic books on survey methods, Groves served as an associate director at the Census Bureau from 1990-92. In 2001 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Groves received an bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dartmouth College in 1970, master’s degrees in statistics and sociology from U-M in 1973 and a doctorate in sociology from U-M in 1975. He joined the Department of Sociology as a lecturer in 1975, attaining the rank of assistant professor in 1977, associate professor in 1983 and full professor in 1990. From 1990-92, he served as associate director of statistical design, standards, and methodology at the Census Bureau, on loan from the university.

He is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Groves currently serves on the National Research Council’s Committee on National Statistics, the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee, and the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate.

He has consulted on survey designs for a wide range of public and private organizations, from the National Institutes of Health, the Census Bureau and the Social Security Administration, to A.C. Nielsen and Co., the Gallup Organization, the American Lung Association, Cornell University and Statistics Sweden.

Groves also has served as project director of the National Survey of Family Growth. Funded and directed by the National Center for Health Statistics, the survey of more than 18,000 men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 is the principal source for national estimates of factors affecting pregnancy and birth rates.

As Census director, Groves will lead an organization that employs more than a million temporary workers for the decennial census, in addition to 12,000 permanent employees.

In March 2010, the Census Bureau will mail or hand deliver questionnaires to every household in the nation, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas.