NORC president John Thompson to lead U.S. Census Bureau

University Communications

John H. Thompson, president and CEO of NORC at the University of Chicago, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new director of the U.S. Census Bureau. President Barack Obama nominated Thompson in May for the position, which has been vacant since August 2012.

“The Census Bureau is one of the most important agencies within the Federal Statistical System,” said Thompson, “and I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to serve as director. My experiences at NORC will serve me well in directing the Census Bureau at a time in which both federal and private sector organizations are facing new challenges in collecting and disseminating high-quality information."

Thompson, who has led NORC since 2008, had previously served as its executive vice president from 2002 to 2008.  

Prior to joining NORC, Thompson held various positions at the Census Bureau, including associate director for the Decennial Census and Chief of the Decennial Management Division. He also worked in the Statistical Support Division from 1987 to 1995 and the Statistical Methods Division from 1975 to 1987.  

“The primary reason I came to NORC after leaving the Census Bureau in 2002, was the commitment of the staff to carrying out high-quality work directed at improving our society. This commitment remains and has grown stronger as we have been fortunate to attract a number of exemplary individuals sharing this same ethic,” said Thompson.

Thompson has been a member of the American Statistical Association since 1975. He was elected as a fellow of the association in 2000 and chaired the Social Statistics Section in 2011 and the Committee on Fellows in 2009.  

Currently, Thompson serves as a member of the Committee on National Statistics with the National Academy of Sciences. He received both a BS and MS degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The NORC Board of Trustees has today announced that Dan Gaylin, NORC’s current executive vice president of research programs, will be serving as the acting President while the board conducts a search for a new president.

NORC is an affiliate of the University of Chicago and has offices on campus as well as in the city of Chicago, the Washington, D.C. area, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco. 

NORC was founded as the National Opinion Research Center in 1941. The collaboration between NORC and UChicago has helped generate important methodological and technological advances, as well as new bodies of knowledge for public policy debate.

In addition to assisting the University on key initiatives in the social science and health studies arenas, NORC researchers have helped faculty members understand and apply new survey research techniques and enriched graduate student experience through hands-on exposure to research projects.