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18 June 2024

Message from the ESRA Committee on the passing of Don Dillman

We are sad to learn that Prof. Don Dillman has passed away. He has had a great influence on the ESRA community, was a frequent ESRA conference visitor, and winner of our 2023 Outstanding Service Award. Many of us have known him, read his books and papers, and have discussed our research with him over the years.

Don was a world-leading expert in survey methodology. His many great contributions include his milestone book “Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method” (with Jolene D. Smyth and Leah Melani Christian; published 2014), which most of us have in their libraries. He is also known for his important collaborations with ESRA members across varying career stages. This includes the influential “International Handbook of Survey Methodology” (with Edith D. de Leeuw and Joop J. Hox; most recent version published in 2018) as well as the article “An experimental comparison of three strategies for converting mail respondents in a probability-based mixed-mode panel to internet respondents” (with David Bretschi and Ines Schaurer; published in the Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology in 2023). Moreover, Don contributed to research published in the ESRA journal Survey Research Methods, for example the articles “Does Visual Appeal Matter? Effects of Web Survey Aesthetics on Survey Quality“ (together with Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft in 2010) and “Visual Design, Order Effects, and Respondent Characteristics in a Self-Administered Survey” (with Michael Stern and Jolene D. Smyth in 2007).

The last ESRA conference he could attend in person was in Zagreb in 2019, where the title of his presentation was “We Can Do Better: The Application of Theory for Improving Response Rates to Mixed-Mode Surveys”. We will remember Don as someone who was always dedicated to "doing better" by designing the best possible surveys. By his great example, he encouraged us to do better, too. He will always be remembered fondly and his memory and groundbreaking contributions to our profession will live on.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

The ESRA Committee (Vera Lomazzi, Vera Toepoel, Alexander Wenz, Daniel Seddig, Angelo Moretti, Alessandra Gaia, Emily Gilbert, Carina Cornesse, Olga Maslovskaya, Daniil Lebedev, Ulrich Kohler, Stephanie Steinmetz, Tom W. Smith, Michael Bergmann, René Bautista, Trent D. Buskirk, Pablo Cabrera Alvarez, Mengyao Hu, Alisú Schoua-Glusberg)