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Robert Santos, Former NORC VP, Sworn in as U.S. Census Director

Press Release

Historic confirmation names the first person of color to become permanent bureau director.

CHICAGO, January 2022 – Robert Santos, former vice president of Statistics and Methodology at NORC, has been sworn in as director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Widely recognized as one of the country’s leading statisticians, Santos, who is Latino, is the first person of color to become a permanent director of the bureau. Santos will lead the bureau through the end of 2026, which will include guiding the bureau in its crucial preparation for the 2030 census.

Santos began his work at NORC in 1996 and served as VP until 1998. Most recently he was chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and president of the American Statistical Association. During his more than 40-year career, he has also worked at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and was a partner at NuStats in Austin, Texas.

The census generates the country’s most comprehensive public data on race, ethnicity, and other demographic characteristics used to redraw voting maps, guide federal funding, and enforce civil rights protections. It is the most frequently cited source of information in the social sciences.

“I understand the importance of data quality and the Census Bureau’s role in providing data that nurtures our democracy, informs our people, and promotes our great economy,” Santos told the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during a confirmation hearing after the Biden administration announced his nomination.

His expertise spans quantitative and qualitative research design, sampling, survey operations, and statistical analysis, and his specialty areas include undocumented immigrants and other disadvantaged populations. Santos has worked across a wide range of policy areas including education, health, immigration and refugees, environmental issues, housing discrimination, travel behavior, and elections.

“We are extremely excited about Rob’s confirmation as census director,” said Dan Gaylin, president and CEO of NORC. “He will be a superb leader of this central pillar of the federal statistical system at a crucial time.”

NORC has strong ties to the Census Bureau. In addition to our ongoing partnership with all components of the federal statistical system, former census directors Kenneth Prewitt (1998-2001) and John Thompson (2013-2017) both led NORC prior to their time at the bureau.

“We are extremely excited about Rob’s confirmation as census director.”

Dan Gaylin

President and CEO

“We are extremely excited about Rob’s confirmation as census director.”

About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.

Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell).