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The Board

Dr. Walter De Vries

Walter De Vries was born in Holland, Michigan, the oldest of seven sons of Dutch immigrants. He received a B.A. from Hope College and both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science and social psychology from Michigan State University.

As Michigan Governor George Romney’s Executive Assistant from 1962-67, Dr. De Vries played a major role in Romney’s three successful campaigns for governor and also in his administration of the state government.

Dr. De Vries was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University during 1968-69 and was a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan from 1969-72. He was an Associate Professor of the Practice of Communications Policy in The Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs at Duke University from 1973-79. In 1981, he was appointed an Adjunct Instructor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where he taught a seminar in the production of television news and documentaries.

In 1971, Dr. De Vries co-authored with V. Lance Tarrance, The Ticket-Splitter: A New Force in American Politics (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972). Jim Perry of The Wall Street Journal said this about the book: “De Vries and Tarrance, scholars who have worked in the political hedge rows, have brilliantly destroyed generations of conventional wisdom about how America votes and why they vote as they do. The Ticket-Splitter has opened new vistas in political research techniques and election strategies.”

In 1976, Dr. De Vries co-authored with Jack Bass a book entitled, The Transformation of Southern Politics (Basic Books, Inc.: New York, 1976). Author Theodore White hailed the book as a “masterly account that begins where V.O. Key left off a generation ago.” David Broder of the Washington Post said the book is a “compelling story with insights on every page.” Tom Wicker of the New York Times called it “definitive.”

In 1998, Dr. De Vries co-authored with V. Lance Tarrance, Checked & Balanced: How Ticket-Splitters Are Shaping the New Balance of Power in American Politics (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998). Everett C. Ladd of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research said that Tarrance and De Vries "continue their leading work in this major new book--essential reading for all who want to understand the evolution of American politics."

From 1969 through 1987, Dr. De Vries was the president of De Vries & Associates, Inc., a public relations, polling, media production and campaign consulting firm. His company conducted more than 25,000 in-the-home opinion interviews and 300,000 telephone interviews with registered voters and consumers for political, commercial, governmental, newspaper and television clients. The company specialized in the use of videotaped focus groups and provided a full range of media services (media planning and strategy, graphics, time buying and radio production). Dr. De Vries has served as a consultant to presidential, U.S. Senate, gubernatorial, congressional and referendum campaigns in 35 states.

Dr. De Vries has been writing and producing for television since 1960. De Vries and Associates, Inc., has written and produced full-length documentaries, mini-documentaries, special telecasts, PSA’s and commercials for public television, commercial television, cable networks and satellite systems.

In January, 1988, Dr. De Vries was appointed the Executive Director of the Institute of Political Leadership, Inc. The purpose of this program is to improve the overall quality of political leadership in North Carolina at the state and local levels. It is the function of the Institute’s Board of Directors to locate men and women with outstanding leadership potential. Two classes of twenty Fellows each are selected each year by the Institute’s Board, and they spend ten weekends in Wilmington and other cities in North Carolina in a training program designed to make them familiar with the state’s political and policy processes and campaign techniques. In July 1999 the Institute became affiliated with The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Dr. De Vries was appointed Assistant to the Chancellor for Political Leadership and an Adjunct Professor in the Political Science Department.

Since 1991, the Institute of Political Leadership has helped start similar programs in Michigan, Virginia, Ecuador and South Africa. The states of Florida, South Carolina, and Texas have made inquiries about the development of institutes in their states.

Dr. De Vries is a member of the American Association of Political Consultants which he helped organize in 1969. He is also a member of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

On May 9, 1998, he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of North Carolina’s highest honors, by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.