New semester, new leadership

Photo Credit: Jolene Smyth, Kristen Olson, Julia McQuillan
Thu, 08/20/2020 - 11:19

Photo above: Jolene Smyth, Kristen Olson, and Julia McQuillan

We are happy to welcome Jolene Smyth to the position of chair of the Department of Sociology, who brings nine years of experience as the director of the Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR). Smyth is one of the leading mid-career survey methodologists in the world, and we are excited to have someone with her expertise to chair our department.

Some of Smyth's achievements include co-authoring the 2009 and 2014 editions of The Tailored Design Method books, winning the Warren J. Mitkofsky Innovator's Award with colleagues from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), being awarded best paper published in the 2013-2014 Survey Research Methods, just to name a few.

At Nebraska, Smyth co-organized a workshop in 2019 that brought together 60 top researchers for conversations about interviewers that would engage both field managers who collect data and those advancing scholarship on the topic. She has given a number of talks for the National Science Foundation and co-chaired a task force for the AAPOR on transitioning surveys from phone to mixed modes of collection.

While at BOSR, Smyth has been a great support to her department and students. As director, she ensured that BOSR moved out of temporary offices to a permanent space in Oldfather Hall. She has been an advocate for the staff and a mentor to multiple master's and PhD students.

"She is always available to Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO) staff," Lindsey Witt-Swanson, an associate director at BOSR said, describing the impact that Smyth has had on the department. "She cares about all of us as people, and is the first to advocate and push us when we need to be pushed on work-life balance. She is a great person who will be deeply missed at BOSR."

As Smyth becomes chair of the department, Kristen Olson will step into the position of director at BOSR. Olson is faculty in the Department of Sociology and brings her expertise on survey research to BOSR.

Smyth succeeds Julia McQuillan, who served eight years as chair of the department. We want to thank McQuillan for her leadership and service and are excited to have Smyth as our new chair!