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U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert L. Santos Visits Spelman

November 2022

Robert L SantosOn November 10, the Spelman College Census Information Center (CIC) – in partnership with Spelman’s Sociology and Anthropology Department and the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative – hosted a day of engaging events for U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert L. Santos.

The Spelman CIC – established in 2000 – is the only center at an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) that is not supported by a graduate student population. Spelman is also one of four HBCUs in the nation to have a CIC. One of the main highlights of the day included the Census and Community Lunch and Learn event, featuring Santos as the keynote speaker.

During this event, various professionals throughout the AUC gathered to learn and discuss the importance of leveraging data. Santos informed attendees that data can be used to provide valuable insights to local and national political influences, or it can be used to focus on disparities in historically underserved communities – such as those comprised of people of color.

In the short time Santos has served as director, he has already launched an initiative to inspire community-based conversations that will help the U.S. Census Bureau improve their data products, ensuring their data remains relevant. Santos expounded on the magnitude of such work.

"We discovered that we really need to continue having continuous relationships with communities, especially communities of color," said Santos. "We need to understand what your needs are so that we can provide you with the tools you need for community development, economic development, and so forth."

Spelman’s CIC Director and Sociology and Anthropology Assistant Professor Celeste N. Lee, Ph.D., noted why Santos’ visit to Spelman marks a historic moment.

"Today we sit in a really unique position," said Dr. Lee. "This is the first time a director has engaged with this type of work – of touring and engaging different communities to get feedback about data, about where we see possibility for improvement for change."

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