Practical Applications: Statement of Aspirational Practice for IR

By Sandi Bramblett, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Planning/ Decision Support Services, Georgia Institute of Technology

Statement-in-Action.pngA mentor once told me that higher education as an industry can be described as “intensely political, yet oddly personal.” Cultivating and nurturing relationships across the institution is the most effective tool at an institutional researcher’s disposal. This is why we can embrace the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research. It makes institutional research a team sport in which the practitioners are coaches. Our responsibility lies in ensuring we share our knowledge and expertise with others at the institution. Everyone wants to see students succeed, and what better place to put the statement to work than to tie it to student success! 

At my institution, we are searching for a senior director for institutional research and planning. The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research arrived in my inbox while we were doing the initial screening of candidates. It was so thought-provoking that we decided to use it on a questionnaire to narrow down our field of applicants. We simply asked our candidates to provide their thoughts on the aspirational statement. The answers we received enabled us to develop a strong pool of potential directors. I will encourage our new senior director to use the aspirational statement to form his or her roadmap for Georgia Tech’s Office of Institutional Research & Planning. We are already heavily involved in student success initiatives on our campus, and empowering others to really know and understand the data is yet another service we can offer as we set out to accomplish our own institutional goals and achieve our vision.

Last month, I was a guest lecturer for Karen Webber’s Institutional Research class at the University of Georgia. The class was made up of master’s and Ph.D. students who are enrolled at the Institute for Higher Education. I used the aspirational statement to guide a portion of my remarks, highlighting the institutional accountability that the shared model of IR supports. A great discussion ensued! This was yet another venue to discuss the merits of a federated institutional research function. Clearly, this is an idea whose time has come, and it’s up to each of us to start the discussion at our institutions. I invite you to take a moment to think through how you’ll frame that discussion. Start with your IR office. Next, talk it over with your boss. Take it to your colleagues throughout the institution. Empower them to become your allies in data literacy and let us know how you’re making the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research come alive on your campus. It all starts with one conversation…

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