Morrison Institute 40th Anniversary

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For 40 years, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy has served as Arizona’s premier public policy research organization. They conduct interviews, gather and analyze datasets, put polls into the field, assemble focus groups, and bring people together by examining trends, policies and practices. Here with us now is Andrea Whitsett, a director at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

When asked about the reliability of data, Whitsett said “In our field people often say data moves at the speed of trust.”

One way for people to trust the data is by using tools the Morrison Institute provides, such as their interactive water blueprint tool which allows people to better understand the water shortage in the state based on available data.

Whitsett said the institute being associated with ASU is more than beneficial. She said being housed in ASU allows them to collaborate with faculty across all different disciplines. For example, they recently did a telephone survey about policing issues, requested by city of Mesa. The institute’s goal was to help Mesa City Council make an informed decision on where to allocate resources, such as Mesa residents wanted more body-cams.

When asked if it is difficult to maintain nonpartisanship in the Morrison Institute, Whitsett said “remarkably no.” It is not hard to maintain nonpartisanship, she said. Employees remain neutral, she said, because people who apply to work at the institute tend to apply because they believe in the mission of unbiased, fact-driven research. A reputation which the institute has crafted and maintained for 40 years.

The mission also hasn’t changed much over 40 years. What has changed is the way we communicate, she said. Hard copy reports have shifted online. They have interactive tools, story mapping.

In looking to the future, Whitsett said “We’re going to remain true to that north star around nonpartisanship.” They are also going to focus on water, and housing affordability, as well as mental health, homelessness and substance abuse.

Andrea Whitsett, Director at Morrison Institute of Public Policy

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