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US Census Bureau Director Visits Campus

US Census Bureau Director Visits Campus Director Robert Santos met with students, faculty and staff to discuss the critical role of data in policymaking, journalism and other areas. February 15, 2024 By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos during his presentation at Texas A&M University on […]

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Santos speaks to an audience in the Memorial Student Center on the Texas A&M University campus

U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos during his presentation at Texas A&M University on Feb. 6, 2024. | Image: Matt Baughman, College of Arts & Sciences Marketing & Communications

Texas A&M University welcomed U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos to campus this month for a daylong series of sessions with students, faculty and staff as part of his multi-day tour of Texas.

Santos has served as director of the bureau — a key federal agency collecting up-to-date information on people and the economy — since January 2022. He was hosted on campus by the Texas Research Data Center (TXRDC), one of only 33 Federal Statistical RDCs in the nation.

“We were so grateful to have the director of the Census Bureau visit Texas A&M,” said TXRDC Director Dr. Mary Campbell, professor and associate head of the Department of Sociology. “Since 2011, Texas A&M has had a formal agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau. … That means our faculty, staff and students with approved research projects can access highly restricted federal statistical data right here on campus.”

Group image of Texas A&M University geography professor E. Brendan Roark, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Santos, Texas A&M University sociology professor Mary Campbell and Texas A&M University biology professor and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Mark Zoran
(From left:) Texas A&M Professor of Geography Dr. E. Brendan Roark, associate vice president for research, centers and institutes; U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Santos; Texas A&M Professor of Sociology Dr. Mary Campbell, director of the Texas Research Data Center; and Dr. Mark Zoran, dean, College of Arts and Sciences. | Image: Matt Baughman, Arts & Sciences Marketing & Communications

Santos met with small groups over the course of the day. “We discussed many ways that strengthening the ties between the Census Bureau and Texas A&M can benefit us both,” Campbell said, “strengthening our research capacity here on campus, giving our students access to exciting new training opportunities, and connecting our students with exciting career opportunities in the Census Bureau.”

Campbell said A&M also partners with other universities, making it a regional hub for high-impact research “that isn’t possible without access to this data.” It’s called the TXRDC Consortium, and the members are Baylor, Rice, University of Houston, UT-Austin and UT-San Antonio.

Santos noted that, in addition to its use by researchers, Census Bureau data on demographics, the economy and more is provided to everyone at

He said data from the American Community Survey (ACS) offers insights into how the country is growing and changing. ACS is an ongoing survey that provides information annually and helps inform how federal funds are distributed each year.

“Our American Community Survey is a treasure trove,” Santos said. “It offers socioeconomic, demographic and housing data on a variety of issues that are everywhere nowadays. And our realization is that life is all interconnected. We need to know about employment, alongside poverty, education, disabilities, housing, etc. And the ACS offers that experience.”

Learn more about the TXRDC within the College of Arts and Sciences.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Santos, pictured with a group of Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen staff and area officials in front of a Texas A&M-McAllen branded van
Santos, center, flashes a gig ’em with McAllen center staff and area officials. | Image: Yahaira Hernandez/Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen

Down South To The RGV

After leaving College Station, Santos made his way to South Texas where he visited A&M’s Higher Education Center at McAllen, which recently announced the expansion of its campus.

While there, Texas A&M Colonias Program staff took him on a tour of one of the Pueblo de Palmas colonias in Hidalgo County.

Read more about Santos’ visit to the Rio Grande Valley from the McAllen center.

This story was originally published by Texas A&M Today.