Special Features

eAIR features include lead stories, interviews, opinion essays, and other content that fosters broad knowledge and appreciation of the diverse membership of AIR, and of the different professional contexts and activities in which members are engaged. The ideas and perspective expressed in the features are not necessarily the opinions of AIR. If you would like to suggest content for an eAIR feature, please contact publications@airweb.org. 

February 2015

​​Higher education continues to be pressured to report information to a wide variety of stakeholders to use for decisions. Campuses are responding to increased requests from federal and state education departments, senior campus leaders, and even current and prospective students. AIR conducted a survey in fall 2014 to determine members’ top IR priorities for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Last fall, AIR’s Executive Office staff took part in a 10-week initiative to learn more about the work done by our members. The staff conducted “check-in” phone interviews with 203 members to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day duties of AIR members

January 2015

Jonathan Gagliardi, Deputy Director of the National Association of System Heads (NASH), spoke with eAIR about an ongoing NASH project that examines public system/campus roles in institutional research, and shared lessons learned to date.

Cate Rowen, Executive Director of Institutional Research at Smith College, recently helped develop a statement that encourages IR offices to lead or support efforts to bring data to guide campus decision making with regard to sexual assault. She spoke with eAIR about how IR professionals can assist with campus climate studies, including student surveys.  

November 2014 

IR budgets and expenditures vary greatly across institutions. In a recent survey of AIR members on business intelligence and the IR office budget, 32% of respondents expect their IR offices’ budgets to expand over the next three years, and 69% of respondents said that analytical software expenditures are paid entirely or partially by their IR office budgets.

AIR member Christopher M. Mullin reviewed the documentary Ivory Tower: Is College Worth the Cost?, which will be featured at the 2015 AIR Forum in Denver.

Jerold (Raldy) Laguilles is the Coordinator of Institutional Research at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass. Raldy received the 2014 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) H.S. Warwick Research Award in Alumni Relations for Education Advancement. Raldy has been an AIR member for nine years and was awarded a Fellowship for Graduate Study in 2008 and participated in the National Data Institute in 2009. He talks about his recent research and his professional development experiences with AIR.

October 2014

An AIR campus climate workgroup explored the Association’s role in national conversations about sexual assault on college campuses. The group tracked developments in the field and prepared a statement that addresses how institutional research professionals can be involved in campus-level strategies for addressing sexual violence. Read the workgroup's statement and learn what you should do next.

Business intelligence is growing in popularity in higher education, and IR professionals will be impacted. In a recent survey of AIR members, 53% of respondents said they anticipate a role change in IR within the next three years, and 38% of respondents anticipate that IR will evolve toward being more strategic.

Shajeel Imran Khokhar is the Assessment Officer in the Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) in the Offices of Assessment and Institutional Research at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan. He spoke with eAIR about his experience as an international IR professional participating in AIR educational events.

September 2014

Effectively preparing students for the workforce and meeting the needs of employers are integral parts of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) mission. To gauge its effectiveness in these areas, KCTCS began performing regular matches of educational records and Kentucky’s unemployment insurance data in 2005. MORE. 

Zhao Yang’s article How Technology May Change the Horizon of IR originally appeared in the OCAIR Newsletter (June 2014, Vol. 18). Yang explores the future of the field and questions whether IR will evolve or if it will become obsolete. MORE.

Sonia Schaible-Brandon is Director of Institutional Research at Colorado Mesa University. She serves as a lead instructor for the workshop IPEDS Data as the Public Face of an Institution. Sonia spoke with eAIR about the workshop and shared examples of how IPEDS data are used in the public domain.

The 2015 AIR Forum Call for Proposals will open in just a few days. As you plan your proposal, it may help to review a list of hot topics from the 2014 Forum, as indicated by the 10 concurrent sessions with the highest ratings and greatest attendance. MORE.

August 2014

In 2014, President Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which recommended that colleges and universities address the issue of sexual assault in three ways. AIR recently conducted a survey to determine members’ awareness of the Task Force and found that 75% of senior institutional research/institutional effectiveness respondents have limited or no awareness. MORE.

Choosing the correct business intelligence software solution for your institution can be challenging. In a recent survey of AIR members, 68% of respondents said their IR offices either participate in decisions or are the decision makers in choosing their institutions’ BI solutions, and 74% of respondents note their ideal software tools would provide access to all required data. MORE.

Lei Wang is Associate Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness at Tallahassee Community College (TCC), with nearly 20 years of experience in institutional planning, research, and effectiveness and education policy research. She spoke with eAIR about the growing importance of IR.  

July 2014

AIR is pleased to share a valuable resource for institutional researchers: All members are invited to view the 2014 Forum keynote speaker presentation by Lee LeFever at no cost.

More than 2,000 individuals engaged in the work of institutional research, assessment, and planning gathered at the 2014 AIR Forum in Orlando May 27-30. Many conference participants offered comments about how they value Forum. 

Enjoy browsing photo memories from the largest AIR Forum ever.

June 2014

AIR recently conducted a survey of members to determine institutions’ use of business intelligence (BI) and members’ roles in BI. The survey focused on three key areas: key performance indicators (KPIs), BI software, the changing IR role, and IR budgets. AIR members reported that most higher education institutions are adopting key performance indicators (KPIs), and institutional researchers are leaders in the use of KPIs. 90% of respondents indicated that KPIs are important to their institutions, and 41% said KPIs originated in IR. LEARN MORE.

Natalie Solverson is the Director of Institutional Research at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She was awarded the 2013 Edward Delaney Scholarship and attended her first AIR Forum in 2013. She spoke with eAIR about that experience and the year leading up to the 2014 Forum in Orlando.

May 2014

CUPA-HR’s Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey provides median salary data for Chief Institutional Researchers (CIR). Data across survey years indicate salary increases between 2-3% over each of the past three years. LEARN MORE.

Jessica Shedd is Assistant Director in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at The University of Texas System. She has worked in a wide variety of settings, including campuses, associations, the federal government, and a state university system, and spoke with eAIR about commonalities, complexities, and frustrations throughout the higher education enterprise. 





April 2014

A recent National Association of System Heads (NASH) study illuminates the work of IR at state system offices and the institutions that report to system offices. The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and included a national survey conducted by AIR. LEARN MORE about the study findings and download the NASH report. 

Ryan Cherland is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Decision Support at University of California, Irvine. He spoke with eAIR about his commitment to exploring innovative uses of data as an integral component in his role of decision support.

Each year, AIR members recognize their colleagues who have made extraordinary contributions to the success of the Association and to the institutional research profession. AIR celebrates the 2014 recipients of the Outstanding Service Award, John E. Stecklein Distinguished Member Award, and Sidney Suslow Scholar Award.   

March 2014

The Research in Higher Education (RIHE) Special Forum Issue is available for all AIR members at no cost.

Do you face the challenge of describing study results to audience members with varied levels of familiarity of the topic at hand? Do you wonder how best to present your analyses when some individuals have sophisticated understandings of the methodologies employed, and others are interested solely in findings and recommendations? Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation, spoke with eAIR about ways in which institutional researchers can make data and analyses easier to understand while maintaining defensibility. MORE.

February 2014

Savvy AIR members are watching the development of a rating system that may connect IPEDS data to student financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education is developing the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) in response to the Obama Administration's call to publish a new system before the 2015-2016 academic year. LEARN MORE.

What do we know about student voter registration and voting rates? eAIR spoke with Nancy Thomas to get an update on the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.  

January 2014

The Completion by Design (CBD) Pathway Analyses Toolkit shares resources that inform changes to processes, practices, and policies that influence student success. LEARN MORE.

The updated National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) launched in 2013. eAIR spoke with Alexander McCormick and Robert Gonyea of about the changes and resulting opportunities for colleges and universities.

December 2013 

The Student Achievement Measure (SAM) Project is an alternative to the federal graduation rate, which often underreports student achievement because it does not account for an increasingly mobile student population. LEARN MORE.

Fred Lillibridge is Associate Vice President for Accreditation, Compliance and Planning at New Mexico State University Doña Ana Community College and AIR Past President (2006-2007). He reflects on AIR’s efforts to document the work that defines institutional research across all titles and variations represented in the AIR membership.

November 2013

We captured the first 10 of the 546 proposals submitted for the 2014 Forum to take the temperature of IR and anticipate topics of interest at the conference in Orlando. MORE.

Andrew Q. Morse is Educational Policy Analyst, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida. He spoke with eAIR about myth-busting, navigating the complexities of higher education, and the art of preparing conference proposals. 

AIR announces the winners of the 2013 Charles F. Elton Best Paper Award. 

October 2013

A recent AIR survey explored the extent to which institutional researchers use and maintain dashboards to communicate data. Over half of respondents (54%) indicated that their offices manage one or more dashboard. The IR office has primary responsibility for maintaining dashboards (82%), demonstrating that many IR offices have the staff talent needed to do this work. READ MORE.Kurt Slobodzian, Vice President of Research, Nexus Research and Policy Center, spoke with eAIR about the future of online education, analytics, and MORE.

September 2013

AIR members reported mixed impact of last year’s release of the Data Feedback Report (DFR). A recent survey of a sample of AIR members could help you prepare for this year’s DFR release in October. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.  










Jan W. Lyddon is a Data Coach for Achieving the Dream and a consultant affiliated with Organizational Effectiveness Consultants and the Collaborative Brain Trust. an W. Lyddon is a Data Coach for Achieving the Dream and a consultant affiliated with Organizational Effectiveness Consultants and the Collaborative Brain Trust. She spoke with eAIR about learning to be a critical listener, the importance of abstract thinking, and the ability to connect the dots. 

August 2013 




Twenty-eight AIR members had secrets at the 2013 Forum in Long Beach when they served as AIR Secret Shoppers. Read MORE to learn about their experiences and discover ways in which secret shopping can inform your work in IR. 

Angie Choi is a full-time higher education administrator and a part-time doctoral student. She spoke with eAIR about her use of national data in both roles, and offered suggestions for individuals hesitant to work with large datasets.  

July 2013

In a recent AIR survey, 48% of respondents noted that they are very or somewhat familiar with the College Affordability and Transparency List, 33% are not familiar with it, and 20% have never heard of it. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

As part of Broward College’s commitment to a culture of inquiry and evidence, Rigoberto Rincones-Gómez is implementing The Data Ambassadors Initiative. eAIR spoke with him to learn more about this unique approach.

We are living in the era of large datasets. In her essay, Using Large Datasets, Patricia Windham explores how to move from a “see what all I have” mode to a data use mode. Read more and join the conversation about transforming data into information, and using that information to make decisions.

In celebration of NDIR's Global Issues in Institutional Research special issue (Spring 2013), eAIR interviewed Angel Calderon and Karen L. Webber to learn about their goals for the publication and their experience editing an issue of NDIR.

June 2013

The role of IR in accreditation was a frequent theme at the 2013 Forum in Long Beach, and recent research on the position descriptions of AIR members revealed more than 200 IR tasks associated with accreditation. What’s the future of IR work in accreditation? READ MORE.

South Georgia State College’s Diane Blum and Danielle Buehrer recently completed the AIR Data and Decisions® Academy curriculum and were celebrated as Distinguished Honor Students at the 2013 Forum. They spoke with eAIR about their Academy experiences, how they have learned to work “smarter, not harder,” and their plans for future learning adventures. 

In her Reflections on the AIR ForumClaire Goverts shares her experience as a first-time participant and explains how what she learned applies to her work at SUNY College at Brockport.

May 2013




Can you trust national data? Are the data available to institutional researchers reliable? AIR asked a random sample of members to rate the quality of 11 large-scale data sets often used in IR studies. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

As a Professor of Higher Education at Florida State University, Robert A. Schwartz shares his perspective on how people "find" IR and offers an “elevator ride” explanation for why participation in an IR certificate program is valuable.

AIR is pleased to announce that John F. Ryan, Director of Institutional Research at the University of Vermont, has been named the incoming Editor of New Directions for Institutional Research (NDIR).

April 2013

Assessment illuminates the core of the higher education enterprise—that is, assessment helps colleges and universities tell the story of student learning. In order to explore how well we are doing in this arena, eAIR spoke with George Kuh.

As conversations about higher education become more global, institutional researchers benefit from shared learning about the challenges and opportunities facing colleges and universities around the world. In preparation for the International IR Caucus at the 2013 Forum, eAIR asked AIR International Ambassadors to reflect on changes they anticipate for institutional research in their countries in 2013. 

Each year, AIR members recognize their colleagues who have made extraordinary contributions to the success of the Association and to the institutional research profession. AIR celebrates the 2013 recipients of the Outstanding Service Award, John E. Stecklein Distinguished Member Award, and Sidney Suslow Scholar Award.   

March 2013

The Research In Higher Education Special Forum Issue is available for all AIR members at no cost.

Amanda Yale introduced Kevin McCarthy to institutional research when she recognized that his interests and talents would be a good fit for the field. Together they discuss the importance of collaboration in a “culture of performance”—the type of campus collaboration that helped their university achieve significant goals and also shaped the paths that led them to IR.

February 2013
The career paths that lead to institutional research are varied. As a result, the shared learning experiences available to AIR members are rich and diverse. To that end, eAIR asked members of the AIR Board of Directors to reflect on their careers and share advice they wish they had received as new professionals. READ MORE and share your insight

AIR launches a new member benefit - the eLibrary.

AIR announces the 2012 winners of the Charles F. Elton Best Paper Award.

January 2013
AIR members know that the “talk around D.C.” often results in new work on our desks— “trickle down” is not just an economic term. It is smart to keep an eye on the federal government scene, and to that end, eAIR asked four Washington data policy insiders to predict what is coming in 2013. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.
A new tool is available that allows institutional researchers to learn how many of your students registered to vote, voted, and how (absentee or regular ballot) in 2012. These data can drive conversations about the effectiveness of civic learning experiences on campus and about increasing student political engagement in 2014 and 2016. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

December 2012

Junchao Zhang and Min Chen discuss IR work in China and reflect on their recent visit to the U.S. 

A recent AIR survey explored whether members are up to date with FERPA. Among respondents, 45% indicated that understanding FERPA is essential to their work, and 40% indicated that some knowledge of FERPA is helpful. However, less than 40% of respondents reported high levels of comfort with FERPA. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

November 2012

A recent survey of AIR members explored awareness and knowledge of the new IPEDS HR categories. Forty-four percent of survey respondents reported that they are involved in their institutions’ conversions to the new IPEDS HR occupational categories, and 28% reported they are unaware of the new HR categories. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

Cory Clasemann talks about how his inquisitive nature and background in broadcast journalism are natural fits for a career in institutional research.

October 2012

A recent report by the Delta Cost Project highlights findings from a study of college spending and attrition, including the discovery that “roughly 20 percent of education and related spending in higher education results from attrition.” Of particular interest to IR professionals is the methodology offered to assign “institutional production costs to attrition” and related benchmarks. READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

Laura Saunders shares how she uses data in her role as a college president and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a broad perspective.

Natalie Snow reflects on the role of trust in institutional research and shares the IR moment that “just about made [her] lifetime."

September 2012

Analytics is a growing part of higher education vernacular. Questions abound: What is it? How is it defined? Are IR professionals expected to be masters of analytics? Is it a buzzword or a way of doing business? In August 2012, the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) issued a report entitled Analytics in Higher Education: Benefits, Barriers, Progress, and Recommendations. The report emphasizes that “analytics itself is not the end goal. Rather, analytics is a tool used in addressing strategic problems or questions.” READ MORE and share your thoughts and questions.

Chris Mullin discusses his work in the policy arena and highlights the importance of engaging in professional development throughout one’s career.

William Knight reflects on his career, shares what inspires him, and offers insight for new institutional research professionals.

August 2012

What are your thoughts about the U.S. Department of Education's new Shopping Sheet?

July 2012

In his essay, The Future of Institutional Research: Business Intelligence, E. Rob Stirton encourages institutional researchers to look to leading businesses for techniques that can inform our practices in higher education. Readers are invited to join a conversation about the role of BI in the future of IR.

Dr. Mihir shares his experience at the recent National Data Institute and reflects on the role of institutional research in his personal journey.

June 2012

AIR congratulates Stephen L. DesJardins, Mary Ann Coughlin, Patrick T. Terenzini, as well as Siew C. Ang, Stephanie Corliss, and Dawn Zimmaro. Our 2012 Award Winners were honored at the Forum for their accomplishments and their contributions to the Association and the field of institutional research.

Learn more about Julia M. Duckwall and the scholarship fund, now fully endowed, established in her name.

May 2012

Learn more about AIR visiting scholar Shuguang Wei of Wuhan, China.

April 2012

Dawn Geronimo Terkla describes what she enjoys about her role as an academic advisor and how it informs her work in institutional research.
In his essay, Finding a Seat at the Table, G.L. Donhardt advocates for change in the IR profession and calls for inclusion of chief IR officers at the highest levels of campus decision making. Readers are invited to join a conversation about what it means to find a seat at the executive tables on their campuses.

March 2012

Cynthia B. Gray reflects on her role as an IPEDS Trainer and offers encouragement for new and seasoned IPEDS users.

In celebration of the release of The Association for Institutional Research: The First 50 Years, eAIR interviewed  Gary Rice, Project Coordinator, and Mary Ann Coughlin, Co-Editor, to learn about the genesis and meaning of the project.

The Obama administration is proposing a new addition to the College Affordability and Transparency Center - The White House College Scorecard.  Readers are invited to learn more and join a conversation about the instrument and its potential impact on IR.

February 2012

 Glenn Gabbard describes the work of a higher education resource center dedicated to social justice in a diverse democracy.

January 2012

 eAIR interviewed Andrew J. Mauk: What happens when a student affairs doctoral student completes an IR Certificate?  He gets a job he loves!

Michael F. Middaugh, a former Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, reflects both on the roles of math classes and friendship throughout his career in IR