The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, formerly known as the Center for Community Research, was founded at Roanoke College in 1983 for the purpose of involving faculty and students in various research projects to benefit the community--local, state, and national. These projects provide important information to community leaders and residents while allowing students to learn by gaining valuable and practical firsthand experience in program evaluation and survey research. Students learn skills such as research design, questionnaire construction, interviewing, computer use, data analysis, and report writing. Faculty members often use the resources of the Institute in their professional research.
Dr. Gregory Weiss, professor of sociology at Roanoke College, founded the Center for Community Research and served as its director until 1991 when Dr. Harry Wilson, professor of political science, took over its leadership. While its early focus was on the Roanoke Valley, the Institute has expanded its view to include the state of Virginia and, in some cases, the nation.
In 2010, the Institute entered into a phased expansion, moving from four statewide polls in that academic year to six in 2011 and more frequent surveys beginning in September, 2012. IPOR is one of the primary sources of regularized information regarding citizen attitudes within the Commonwealth. IPOR employs both student and community interviewers in its call center on the Roanoke College campus.