NAU’s Social Research Lab to close

Northern Arizona University’s Social Research Lab, perhaps best known for its polls during election season, will close because of the university’s budget reductions.

The lab, which was intended to be self-sufficient, is facing a decreased number of projects and an unpredictable budget. It has run a deficit the last two fiscal years—including more than $100,000 in fiscal year 2008—and is facing an additional $20,000 for FY09 on top of the previous deficits. The deficits are made up with university subsidies.

“The Social Research Lab has performed some good, high-profile work over the years,” said Michael R. Stevenson, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “But the budget reduction the university is facing forces us to rethink some of the projects we are engaged in. Our college remains 100 percent committed to providing both undergraduate and graduate students with the research opportunities they need to succeed.”

Two full-time employees and one part-time, temporary employee will lose their positions as a result of the closure.

The Social Research Lab has been part of NAU for more than 12 years, polling on topics ranging from political races to racial profiling to what should appear on Arizona’s state quarter.

“We feel closing the lab—while unfortunate—will help solve NAU’s budgetary difficulties without threatening the academic integrity of the college,” Stevenson said. “We have to make our decisions based on protecting our core mission of educating our students.”