People: Deceased Emeritus Faculty
About Philip E. Converse
Philip E. Converse, Robert Cooley Angell Distinguished University Professor of Sociology and Political Science in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and research scientist in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, retired from the University of Michigan on May 11, 1989. He had resigned as director of the Institute for Social Research January 31, 1989, to prepare for his new role as director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
Professor Converse received his B.A. degree from Denison University in 1949, his M.A. degree from the University of Iowa in 1950, and his Certificat des Etudes Francaises from the University of Paris in 1956. He went on to earn his M.A. degree in 1956 and his Ph.D. degree in 1958, both from the University of Michigan. His career at the University of Michigan began in 1958 with his appointment as study director of the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research (ISR). He was named program director of the Survey Research Center in 1962, director of the Center for Political Studies in 1982, and Director of ISR in 1986. Simultaneously, he served on the faculties of the Sociology and Political Science Departments, achieving the rank of professor of sociology and political science in 1965. He was named the Robert C. Angell Professor of Sociology and Political Science in 1975 and the Robert Cooley Angell Distinguished University Professor of Sociology and Political Science in 1982.
An internationally renowned scholar of public opinion and electoral behavior, Professor Converse was a widely quoted author whose publications occupy a prominent place in such areas as political ideology, the determinants of voting behavior, attitude measurement, time use, quality of life, mass-elite linkages, and survey methodology. Professor Converse was the author of three classic works: The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics, The American Voter (co-author), and Elections and the Political Order (co-author), and is co-author of the book, Political Representation in France, which was co-winner of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award of the American Political Science Association in 1987.
Professor Converse’s stature in the social science community is evidenced by his having served in leadership positions in a number of professional organizations, foundations, and councils. He has been the recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Professor Converse is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1968), the National Academy of Sciences (1973), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (1985), and the American Philosophical Society (1988). He received an honorary degree from his alma mater in 1974 and a Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Chicago in 1979. He was given the award four Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in 1986. At the University of Michigan, Professor Converse received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1973 and he was named the Henry Russel Lecturer in 1987.
University of Michigan has honored this distinguished social scientist and teacher for his dedicated service by naming Philip E. Converse Research Scientist Emeritus and Robert Cooley Angell Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Political Science.
Posted April 15, 2015: We announce with great sorrow that Philip E. Converse passed away on December 30, 2014. Philip E. Converse, an authority on public opinion and electoral behavior and past Director of the Center for Political Studies (CPS). Converse’s wide-ranging contributions to the field of political science changed how the world understood political behavior, according to Donald R. Kinder, Research Professor at CPS. “By brilliant example, in paper after paper, Converse demonstrated the value of a quantitative approach to understanding politics,” said Kinder. “His influence is profound. He is surely one of the most important social scientists of the 20th century.”
A Memorial Service for Phil Converse was held on Friday, April 10 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm in the Michigan Union Ballroom.