Convening to Build IR Capacity

By Bill Schneider, Associate Vice President for Research and Performance Management, NCCCS, and Gina Johnson, Strategy Director for IR Capacity Initiatives, AIR

With increased demand for data and information, and stagnant or reduced resources for community colleges, how can IR and IE professionals not only survive, but thrive and collaborate to expand the capacity to provide data and information for decision making? On August 2, 2016, a working group led by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) held the Excellence in Research and Analytics Summit at the SAS Executive Briefing Center in Cary, North Carolina, to tackle this and other difficult questions. More than 50 individuals representing North Carolina community colleges gathered with experts in research and analytics from a variety of organizations and companies to move toward the working group’s stated purpose to “promote, support, and build the capacity for research and analytics with the North Carolina community colleges in order to facilitate institutional effectiveness with a focus on student success.”

classificationbar.jpg OBJECTIVES

  • Marketing
  • Talent Pipeline
  • Orientation
  • Technology
  • Collaboration
  • Research
  • Culture
  • Leadership Development
  • Sustainability

classificationbar.jpg WORKGROUPS

  • Talent Base
  • Data Accessibility
  • Research
  • College Impact

The effort to expand institutional research capacity within the North Carolina Community College System started with an impromptu meeting following Achieving the Dream’s 2015 Data and Analytics Summit. This meeting, which included representation from community colleges, the university system, SAS, and national organizations, sparked the North Carolina Community College Excellence in Research and Analytics Initiative. Less than one year later, the Initiative’s core committee is nearing 30 members who have established a purpose statement, eight objectives, and four workgroups. Objectives were distributed within the four workgroups and the NCCCS Excellence in Research and Analytics Summit provided the platform to launch the workgroups.

The Summit began with a welcome and overview of the Initiative, followed by a panel discussion of current topics in institutional research. Panelists covered such topics as the use of data in tactical, operational, and strategic decisions; AIR resources for building institutional and system IR capacity; characteristics of high quality analytics professionals; and establishing a culture of effective organizational data use. The afternoon involved focused discussion in the targeted workgroups listed above.

To further the progress made at the Summit, the workgroups will continue to meet and advance the practices and strategies identified and prioritized at the event. These workgroups will ensure that the important ideas brought forth at the Summit continue.

The Initiative highly values the input and support of presidents and other college leaders. During the week prior to the Summit, the NC Association of Community College Presidents graciously invited Initiative representatives to their quarterly meeting and provided two hours for them to speak with the presidents and invited IR professionals. These representatives provided updates and shared an overview of the state of IR/IE in the system, providing context and data, including benchmark data from AIR’s National Survey of Institutional Research Offices. Strategies to increase the use of information and analytics to drive improvement were also discussed. Located in Cary, North Carolina, SAS has also demonstrated its commitment to higher education by supporting this initiative through consulting, facilitating meetings, and hosting the Summit.

As IR/IE offices are asked to meet ever-expanding data demands to inform critical decision-making, while turnover of staff, rising compliance demands, and limited resources place pressure on the IR/IE function, it is increasingly important to intentionally plan for the current and future needs of the profession. The Excellence in Research and Analytics Initiative and Summit provides one example of convening to discuss IR capacity issues and working together collaboratively to solve them.

For more information on the Initiative or Summit, contact Bill Schneider or Gina Johnson. We value your feedback, add your comments below to continue the conversation.




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