The University of Southern Mississippi

Using Data Analytics to Drive Retention

University of Southern Mississippi


The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a Carnegie R1 research institution and one of the nation’s leading research universities, serving over 10,600 undergraduate and 3,400 graduate students, both online and in-person. However, a perennial challenge for leadership was having ready access to accurate, shared data on student success, financial health of academic programs, and other critical metrics. Like every institution, USM needed data analytics to determine whether their tactics for driving student success and program productivity translated into tangible results. 

Read the case study to learn more about how USM partnered with HelioCampus in 2018 to drive more informed decision-making, resulting in three powerful benefits as they transitioned to becoming a more data-informed institution.

"HelioCampus worked with us every step of the way to answer the questions we had about our data. The goal wasn’t to give us pre-packaged datasets but to work with us, listen to our needs, and help us find answers to our specific questions.”

Amy L. Chasteen, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, The University of Southern Mississippi

Just one of the benefits to becoming a more data informed institution:

  • Data Empowered Leadership: Every year at USM budget hearings, deans share their budget requests and make arguments for
    funding increases in areas of need. With access to data-fed dashboards at their fingertips, deans can now make stronger, more informed arguments based on metrics such as student credit hours, degree production, and graduation rates. This access to information has increased transparency, reduced confusion, and encouraged buy-in of academic leaders over larger financial choices.


  • Using Data to Retain At-Risk Students: USM’s Office of the Provost wanted to pinpoint the dollar amount needed to help Pell-eligible students—a traditionally at-risk group— through their first and second years. With help from HelioCampus, USM was able to identify a specific dollar amount needed to increase retention rates for these students. Using that figure, they secured grant funding to award to at-risk sub-populations and coupled it with coaching and other aid. The end result? Students who received the reward had a 20% higher fall to spring retention rate over those in the same at-risk group who did not.

Learn More About the Journey 

Read the Case Study