March 3, 2021 | Higher Education, Institutional Research, Data Science, Featured

    The Evolution of Institutional Research

    As I attended NC/SCAIR this year, I was impressed by the breadth of skills and talents that an IR professional must have. Now, more than ever, Institutional Research and Effectiveness offices are required to not only help stakeholders across campus understand and use data for strategic decision-making but, as a result of COVID, need to be able to pivot even more quickly than usual to address new questions and provide new analyses.

    How these IR skill sets and institutional knowledge can all come together for the good of the university was conveyed in the session, “A New Data Strategy: The Foundation for Readiness and Action,” delivered by the University of South Carolina’s, Mike Kelly, Chief Data Officer, Caroline Maulana, Business Intelligence Strategist, and Jonathan Poon, Assistant Director of Institutional Research and Analytics

    The University of South Carolina had a goal of providing analytics capabilities across all eight campuses within its system to support shared and individual campus decisions. Leadership changes brought urgency to improving our data capabilities, including:

    • making data accessible, well-understood, and discoverable;
    • acquiring precise data models for data and information systems in use across the UofSC System;
    • accurately combining data from disparate, disconnected sources to quickly and reliably answer deep and challenging questions; and
    • providing a suite of reliable, state of the art, standard tools and resources to enable success in institutional reporting, research, business intelligence and numerous forms of analytics.

    The presenters discussed how UofSC laid the foundation to comb through an overabundance of data to gain reliable insights, as well as the role of data quality, tips for stakeholder engagement, and what's next for UofSC on their analytics agenda. Diving a little deeper, they provided insight to their governance structure model that was formed to help manage the analytics transformation, gather ideas from stakeholders, and monitor implementation across the institution. In closing, Mike Kelly explained how UofSC encourages faculty of all types to submit Analytics Project Proposals in an attempt to understand what data insights might be beneficial for their staff and for the institution.

    The UofSC presentation was inspirational and shows what can be achieved when a campus is aligned on the need for good, clean, curated data. Both the National AIR conference and the regional conferences, like SAIR, are great opportunities to share information and learn about what other campuses are doing. We look forward to seeing you all at the next event!

    For more information, read our new eBook on the importance of benchmarking in higher education to learn how your institution can use benchmarked data to inform spending and decision making.

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