“Wake-up Call” Catalyzes Impact in Public Opinion Research

Garth Taylor

Garth Taylor

When Garth Taylor retired in 2010 from running a polling company in Chicago, he wanted to live life right. He started a music school, the School of American Music, in the small Southwestern Michigan town of Three Oaks.

The school gave Taylor plenty to do. But in addition to giving back to this small community through the school, Taylor wanted to give back to his chosen field. “I had gotten the idea of supporting dissertation research at places that are pinnacles of the public opinion profession,” he says.

As he was thinking about where to make his gift, Taylor discovered that the survey research center at his alma mater had closed due to budget cuts. “To me that was a real wakeup call,” Taylor says. “Public education is under attack. That made me think I shouldn’t wait on this.”

In November 2013, Taylor established the Garth Taylor Dissertation Fellowship in Public Opinion Research at ISR, even though he had no personal connection to the institute beyond using faculty research in his work. “We have benefited from a professional field, and if we truly believe in that field, we should support its continuation,” he says.

And when he’s not teaching or playing music, Taylor looks forward to meeting the students who receive the Garth Taylor fellowship each spring. “Public opinion was always the most interesting to me,” he says. “I just felt like I was reading the Book of Revelation when I was reading survey code books. Someone else is going to have that same experience.”

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