Board Corner

  • Board Corner
  • 03.22.18

Collaboration. It's Magically Delicious!

  • by Ellen Peters - AIR President
C. Ellen Peters
Collaboration. It’s what’s for dinner. Well, maybe it’s not edible, but it is necessary for IR and our institutions to be strong and healthy. 

While that’s not news to many of us working in IR, it was reinforced during the joint AIR, EDUCAUSE, and NACUBO Enterprise IT Summit 2018 that was attended by four Board members as well as numerous institutional researchers from across the country.

This was the first time that these three organizations have partnered together to share the ways in which we are mutually dependent on one another to serve our institutions. 

One particularly salient presentation focused on the importance of building trust – and acknowledged that a first attempt at a Data Governance Committee didn’t go over well, as it lacked a clear focus and roles for each member of the committee. A revised structure that leveraged committees already in existence was much more successful. This new structure was developed by IR and IT working together to identify both the focus of the work, the right players, and the important contribution of each person at the table in ensuring strong data governance. Trust was built as the IR/IT partnership acknowledged that their first attempt wasn’t working, and valued their colleagues’ time enough to rethink the structure, and to be clear about the ultimate purpose of the work. 

But data governance isn’t the only reason for collaboration – be it with IT or other areas at our institution. Other presentations shared projects around facilities management and around maximizing classroom space both in person and online. The collaboration between IR and other offices affords IR an awareness of the concerns that those offices face and positions IR to apply our expertise to assist them in finding solutions. 

The Summit reinforced the importance of multiple perspectives in our approach to our work in higher education – not just for IR, but across our institutions. And as I reflected on that, it struck me that our Board may have limited perspectives, which might hamper our ability to ensure that IR is valuable across higher education. How can we be sure that IR is serving well if we don’t hear the voices of those who we are serving?

This year, we’ve worked to gather the voice of the membership through listening sessions at affiliate organizations across the country, and we are eager to learn the results of the subsequent qualitative analysis. Perhaps our next step is to gather the voices of consumers of institutional research as well as those upon whom IR depends.

Collaboration takes on many flavors, and keeps the work interesting and nutritious. Bon appétit!
Back to Board Corner