ROCK HILL – Winthrop University alumnus Steven Dillingham has accepted the position of director of the U.S. Census Bureau following his Jan. 2 confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
President Donald Trump nominated Dillingham for the position in 2018.
Dillingham will serve the remainder of a five-year term, which expires Dec. 31, 2021. In the role, he will lead the bureau and a staff tasked with ensuring every single person living in the United States is counted in the 2020 Census survey.
The South Carolina native was sworn in as director on Jan. 7.
The previous director, John Thompson, resigned in May 2017.
Dillingham has a long history in Washington. In his most recent role, he served as the Peace Corps' director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning, and previously served as the director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. His work in Washington dates to the 1980s, when he first began working as legal counsel in the Department of Justice and later the Department of Energy.
Dillingham, who resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with wife Kimberly and daughter Abigail, has local ties. He was born in Orangeburg and his parents are from Rock Hill. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1970-72 and is a 1973 graduate of Winthrop, where he majored in political science.
Winthrop Professor Emeritus Melford Wilson, a longtime political science educator and former department chair, remembered Dillingham as one of the first male students he taught in the program as the university transitioned to a coed institution.
“Although he was not politically active at the time, I knew he would go on and do well for himself,” Wilson recalled. “I’m very pleased at his accomplishments. I’m mighty proud to have him in that [director] position.”
Dillingham also holds degrees from George Washington University, Georgetown University and the University of South Carolina.
He joins the Census Bureau as time-sensitive preparations are taking place leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020. Residents of Alaska will be among the first survey takers in January 2020.
The newest census -- which occurs every 10 years – will likely feature an online option for the first time. Responses will also be gathered via phone, mail and traditional door-to-door visits.