University of Michigan. Institute for Social Research.

The Survey Research Center, forerunner of the Institute for Social Research, was established at the University of Michigan in 1946, under the direction of Rensis Likert, as a center for interdisciplinary research in the social sciences. Fifty years after its founding, the Institute for Social Research (ISR), had become the nation's longest-standing laboratory for interdiscliplinary research in the social sciences. ISR surveys are a national resource and have set the standard for research design across the country. Findings from ISR studies have contributed to policy and practice on issues ranging from racial prejudice and drug abuse to health, retirement and welfare. Largely self-supporting through grants and external contracts, ISR had a budget of approximately $33 million in 1997.

Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, Likert worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture developing a survey facility to provide data on the problems of farmers and their reactions to federal farm policies. During World War II, Likert's survey work expanded to provide data for several federal agencies. The studies were on public finance, morale, and government policies, among other topics. After the war, Likert and others sought a university setting that would provide a facility for large-scale sample survey research and greater opportunities for teaching and research in the social sciences. The University of Michigan was selected and Likert was appointed as director. Likert brought with him Angus Campbell, George Katona, Charles Cannell and Leslie Kish. Initially skeptical of the establishment of a research institute not closely connected with a teaching department, the executive officers of the university stipulated that the Survey Research Center (SRC) was to operate through outside grants. The university would provide office space and general university services. Those working for the Center originally were not eligible for tenure. To promote its interdisciplinary nature, the Center was administratively separate from other schools and colleges and its executive committee was made up of members from a variety of relevant disciplines.

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