Don A. Dillman


Biographical Sketch

Don A. Dillman
Department of Sociology and
The Social & Economic Sciences Research Center
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-4014
(509) 335-1511   FAX: (509) 335-0116


Dr. Dillman is Regents Professor in the Department of Sociology at Washington State University.  He also serves as Deputy Director for Research and Development in the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC). 
He is recognized internationally as a major contributor to the development of modern mail, telephone and Internet survey methods. In 1970, he was founding coordinator of the SESRC’s Public Opinion Laboratory (1970-1973), one of the first university-based telephone survey laboratories in the United States. His book, Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method (1978), was the first to provide detailed procedures for conducting surveys by these methods, and was recognized in 1990 by the Institute for Scientific Information as a "Citation Classic."  It has been cited in more than 3,600 scientific publications.  From 1991-1995  he served  as the senior survey methodologist in the Office of the Director, U.S. Bureau of the Census, where he provided leadership for the development of new questionnaire designs and procedures for the 2000 Decennial Census and other government surveys.  This and related work on other federal agency surveys led to his receiving the Roger Herriot Award for innovation in federal statistics in September 2000.

Dr. Dillman has three degrees from Iowa State University (B.S. Agronomy, 1964; M.S. Rural Sociology, 1966; Ph.D. Sociology, 1969).  He came to Washington State University in 1969 as an assistant professor and has served the University as Chair of the Department of Rural Sociology (1973-81) and Director of the SESRC (1986-1996).

Throughout his 41 year career at Washington State University, Dr. Dillman has maintained an active research program on the improvement of survey methods and how information technologies influence rural development. He has served as investigator on more than 80 grants and contracts worth approximately $13 million, and written 13 books and more than 245 other publications.  His most recent books include: The International Handbook on Survey Methodology (with de Leeuw and Hox,2008), and Mail, Internet and Mixed-Mode Surveys: 3rd edition (with Smyth and Christian, 2009).  His current research emphasizes visual design and layout influences respondent answers to self-administered surveys and how to encourage general public populations to respond to internet surveys. He also researches differences in how information technologies impact community quality of life.

He was the 2001-2002 President of the American Association of Public Opinion Research.  Other significant accomplishments include being selected as a Fellow in Class I (1980-83) and advisor to Class XI (1990-93) of the Kellogg Foundation's National Fellowship Program; President (1984-85) of the Rural Sociological Society and recipient of its Excellence in Research (1998) and Distinguished Rural Sociologist (2008) awards; election as a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1987) and the American Statistical Association (1995); and 2002 recipient of the Society for Applied Sociology Lester F. Ward Award for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Sociology.  He received the American Association of Public Opinion Research “AAPOR Award” for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement in 2002, and in 2006, the World Association for Public Opinion Research “Helen Dinerman Award” for career contributions to innovative research and methodology.  At Washington State University, he was the 1985 presenter of the Distinguished Faculty Address; 1994 recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Achievement Award; 1995 winner of the University Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research; and 2002 recipient of the Eminent Faculty Award, WSU’s highest faculty honor.

Since 1980, Dr. Dillman has presented seminars at more than 30 universities throughout the United States, and lectured in Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, Canada, Republic of China, Guam, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.  He was Guest Professor at the German Center for Survey Methods and Analysis in Mannheim, has served frequently as an instructor at the University of Michigan's Annual Summer Survey Institute and the Evaluator’s Institute.  He presents short courses regularly on designing surveys and has delivered nearly 100 keynote or other major invited addresses to organizations and conferences.  He has also served as a consultant on survey design to many government agencies and private organizations in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Dillman was raised on a farm near Chariton, Iowa, and in 1964 married Joye Jolly Dillman (B.S., M.S., Iowa State University), associate professor emeritus in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University.                                                                                                       

Curriculum vita and recent papers available from


January 2011

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