Jason Pressley

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University’s polling laboratory, the Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research (CPOPR), has been granted $3.4 million in state contracts to conduct health surveys throughout the country.

The grants will allow the polling center to conduct 12 additional surveys per year, according to Winthrop President Dan Mahony.

“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,” said Mahony, in an email to the campus community.

The CPOPR will begin working with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control this winter on two contracts. The first is a five-year deal valued at $2.38 million and the second is worth $800,000 over four years.

The surveys, produced from the contracts, will focus on the choices people make to stay healthy, children’s health and adult smoking habits.

“Specifically medication usage and the health habits of South Carolina residents in general,” said Breonica Robinson, a supervisor at the polling center.

“The surveys collect all the data from across the 50 states,” said Robinson. “That information is going to be used to determine better health policies and practices for residents of each individual state.”

Work on the surveys began in January and so far data has been collected from several hundred surveys.

Dr. Scott Huffmon, poll director and a professor of political science, 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, in a press release. “This kind of service is a natural complement to the Winthrop Poll, which keeps residents and lawmakers informed of the opinions of South Carolinians.”

Poll Operations Manager Summersby Okey said the main purposes of the CPOPR are research and service, but also teaching because, the center provides jobs to Winthrop students and members of the Rock Hill community.

As part of the newly-awarded contracts, the polling center has added more than 20 new jobs and 20 more positions are expected to be added in early March, according to Okey.

The polling lab has expanded from 25 to 54 calling stations since the fall 2018 semester.

Many of the callers are Winthrop students, who must undergo specialized training in interviewing people from sensitive populations.

The Winthrop poll center was founded by Huffmon in the spring of 2002 and is a research arm of the Department of Political Science.