Marist Poll Renovation Ushers in New Era of Research and Educational Opportunities

Bryan Terry, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
The Marist Poll Center. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

May 21, 2024 — For decades, entering the Marist Poll office meant stepping into a sea of calling stations. The neatly aligned cubicles with their identical phones, computer monitors, and headsets represented a time when landline calls served as the best way to take the country’s political and cultural temperature.

But communication and research have moved forward, and so has the Marist Poll.

Recently, the operations headquarters of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion on the top floor of the Hancock Center underwent a significant renovation. Gone are the boxed-in cubicles, and in their place now sits a bright, open, buzzing research hub that encourages collaboration and innovation.

Side-by-side images of Marist Poll office, before and after renovation.
Left: The phone room before renovation. Photo courtesy of the Marist Poll. Right: The new Marist Poll Center collaborative workspace after renovation. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

The Marist Poll Center, as it is now called, is meant to usher in a new era of research, education, and technology.

“Over the nearly five decades of the Marist Poll, we have often shed our technological skin to advance Marist’s leadership role in survey research,” said Dr. Lee Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. “This current innovation is monumental. We have introduced a new method of conducting public polls while providing students with a unique, comprehensive, and experiential opportunity to conduct research and analysis.”

Christopher Devizio '27, a political science major and interviewer for the Marist Poll, was wowed by the new space. 

“I was expecting refurbished cubicles and desktops. I wasn’t expecting couches, booths, or anything like that. I like it a lot,” Christopher said.

Image of students collaborating in Marist Poll Center.
Athen Hollis '24 (left) and Christopher Devizio '27 (right) collaborate in the Marist Poll’s newly renovated facility. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

Like many student workers there, Christopher was drawn to the poll by his interest in politics and current events and his need for a job on campus. Each year, the institute employs hundreds of students who help make the Marist Poll one of the most trusted sources of public opinion data in the nation.

Image of Marist Poll office during renovation.
The renovation in progress during fall 2023. Photo courtesy of the Marist Poll.

The renovation of the center is not just about infrastructure; it represents the organization’s evolution and, most importantly, the expansion of educational opportunities for students.

Ethan Solury '26 serves as an example of the wide range of experiences students now have at the poll. The double major in political science and global studies has never staffed the phones but has still contributed crucial work to the research and educational goals of the institute.

“I started working as an education associate, developing ideas for curricula for courses on AI in research, for example,” said Ethan. “But then I approached the staff about doing more political stuff, and now I’m part of the team that ensures the quality of the phone interviews.”

Image of Ethan Solury '26 working at the Marist Poll.
Ethan Solury '26 conducts research at the new Marist Poll Center. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

“Experiential learning has always been central to the Marist Poll, and our programs have grown well beyond the phone center,” said Dr. Barbara Carvalho, Director of the Marist Poll. “Students now work with our team as media assistants, research assistants, and data assistants. We also offer courses and internships.” 

In line with these expanded opportunities and collaborative research enterprises, the Marist Poll recently launched its GenNext program, in which students design and implement an entire research project from start to finish, aiming to learn about the opinions and ideas of their own generation.

The most recent GenNext surveys, released nationally on May 8, were developed by Krystyna Lubrano '24, a history major, and Neel Viswanathan '25, a communications and American studies major. They explored Gen-Z attitudes toward issues like abortion and charitable giving.

“GenNext provided me with insight that can be applied to any profession, and skills that I will use for the rest of my life,” Krystyna said.

Neel added he was “intrigued to learn how to convey information effectively to the public, leading to a more thorough understanding of the data and larger context.”

Image of Dr. Lee Miringoff talking with students.
Dr. Lee Miringoff talks with student workers in the new Marist Poll Center. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

Athen Hollis, a graduating senior, has maximized her opportunity to infuse the poll’s educational opportunities into her academic outcomes.

Athen collaborated closely with the Marist Poll team on the Poll Hub podcast, so much so that she worked her way up from researcher to producer.

“I slowly started doing more things to help with the podcast, and eventually they said to me, ‘Go ahead, take it over,’” she said.

The most important lesson Athen learned through this experience was the extent to which the poll was more than just a phone interviewing center. Her advice to future students with ambitions in the world of research, data, and politics is to take advantage of all that the Marist Poll can provide to help fulfill their educational and professional goals.

“Talk to the people that work at the Marist Poll and if you’re interested in something, they’ll make it happen for you,” she said. “The people that work here are a community, and they will help you get anywhere you want.”

“The common thread is to introduce data to Marist students in a non-intimidating way and to allow students to develop critical thinking, communication, and collaborative skills that will aid them in their professional endeavors,” said Dr. Carvalho.

Be on the lookout for the upcoming issue of Marist Magazine, due out this summer, to hear more from these students and alumni about the Marist Poll’s importance to the national discussion, particularly in advance of the 2024 general election.

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