Faculty and Staff - January 28, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Today I am pleased to share with you that following months of preparation, we are finally ready to announce that $3.4 million in state contracts have been awarded to the newly renamed Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, directed by Dr. Scott Huffmon and managed by Summersby Okey. This development will mean our polling operation, formerly called the Social and Behavior Research Lab, will conduct 12 additional surveys per year in addition to our four Winthrop Polls. Please see the news release that follows for more on these grants.

I cannot say enough about how much the leadership, hard work, and dedication of Scott and Summersby have made this development possible, not to mention the support of Academic Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Political Science. The substantial amount of these grants is a testament to the outstanding work being done at the center, a highlight of the kind of experiential learning that makes an education at Winthrop unique in this state, region, and beyond. I also will note that this accomplishment supports Goals 2 and 5 of the Winthrop Plan.

Please congratulate Scott, Summersby, and all who were involved in securing these grants when you see them around campus.



State Contracts to Bring $3.4 Million to Winthrop for Health Research

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University’s longstanding polling laboratory, widely known for its work on the Winthrop Poll, has accepted two significant state contracts totaling $3.4 million.

The Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research (CPOPR), formerly called the Social and Behavioral Research Lab, is a full-service survey research and data analysis entity that serves both public and private organizations.

The center will start work this winter on two contracts with the state health department, one valued at $2.38 million over five years and the other at $800,000 over four years.

“Receiving state contracts of this size is a testimony to the impressive work conducted by the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research,” said President Dan Mahony. “Winthrop is proud to house this research and analysis service to inform the public on a variety of important topics, while also providing Winthrop students with employment and real-world polling experience.”

Poll Director Scott Huffmon said the grants will serve the community and the state. “Taking on these endeavors is a continuation and expansion of our ongoing commitment to serve the people of South Carolina,” said Huffmon, a professor in the Department of Political Science. “This kind of service is a natural complement to the Winthrop Poll which keeps residents and lawmakers informed of the opinions of South Carolinians.”

Here are details about the surveys supported by the grants:

*The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems Survey (BRFSS): The purpose of the study is to gather information that affects the choices people make to stay healthy, the way in which the medical community perceives and treats certain illnesses, and the access that people have to health care. Its goal is to improve the health of the residents in each state.

Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the survey is overseen by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The national survey is administered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The second part of the BRFSS contract is a follow up survey for those who have children living in their home. Upon completion of the BRFSS survey, eligible respondents will be asked to complete a children’s health assessment survey (CHAS) focused on the health behaviors and outcomes of children in South Carolina.

*The Adult Tobacco Survey (ATS): The ATS data is used by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to measure knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to tobacco use for South Carolinians aged 18 and over.  It is used to evaluate the comprehensive state tobacco control program for adult use and exposure and to provide data for comparison with other states.

About the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research

In addition to its recent name change, Winthrop’s polling lab has expanded from 25 to 54 calling stations since the fall 2018 semester. Callers, many of whom are Winthrop students, undergo rigorous methodological reviews and specialized training in interviewing sensitive populations.

Winthrop’s lab was founded by Huffmon in the spring of 2002 and is a research arm of the Department of Political Science. Its mission is threefold: research, service and teaching.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at longshawj@winthrop.edu or at 803/323-2404.