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The Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research was created in 2012. It was made possible through a generous gift and continued financial support from Daniel Yankelovich. Since 2016 it has received additional financial support from UC San Diego.

David Lake, professor of political science, was the Center's director from 2012 to 2015. Lane Kenworthy was the director from 2015 to 2016, John Skrentny was the director from 2017-2020, and Zoltan Hajnal and Thad Kousser are the current
co-directors from 2021-Present.