eAIR recently spoke with Barrie Fitzgerald, Director of Institutional Research, Valdosta State University, about juggling full-time work and graduate school, advice for first-time Forum attendees, being an IR leader, and his role with SAIR.
eAIR: What are some things you have done to successfully juggle full-time work and graduate school that you can share with others who are considering this same path?
Let’s face it, juggling a full-time work schedule and studying class materials can be extremely stressful. One of the ways I have found to help ease the stress is ensuring that I schedule some “me time” as a method of rewarding myself for accomplishing major projects. This allows me to recharge my batteries in preparation for new, upcoming projects. This may involve a quick trip to the local amusement park, a quick workout, going out with friends to the movies or dinner, etc.
eAIR: As a dedicated IR professional, AIR member, and Forum presenter, what would you tell those who may be attending the Forum for the first time about making the most out of their time at the conference?
Attending a national conference for the first time can be a tad overwhelming. Embrace it! Yes, you may feel awkward, but I believe this is where you’ll attend sessions that peak your interest, challenge you to learn something new, and push you out of our comfort zone. Also, this is the time for you to network with attendees. Try to introduce yourself to at least one person you have never met before. Networking will allow you to form long-lasting friendships and connect with colleagues on whom you can rely for advice when an unfamiliar project is given to you.
eAIR: As a leader in IR, what are some new and different ways you have found to look at data?
This academic year, the university’s executive leadership at Valdosta State challenged my office to develop dashboards that not only show the end result of admissions, enrollment, and registration processes, but to develop key performance indicators (KPI) of targeted day-to-day numbers. These numbers provide a guide for how these areas should perform each day in order to reach the university’s upcoming enrollment goals. It has been a great challenge for us as we have to use different methods that come from other fields, such as Economics, in order to create these KPIs.
eAIR: Can you tell us a little bit about your leadership role with the Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR)?
Within SAIR, I have the honor and privilege to serve as the member-at-large for professional development. One of my main responsibilities is to coordinate educational and technical workshops to allow other IR professionals a chance to learn valuable skills in programs that may not be offered at their current institution. In addition, it is a prime opportunity for new IR professionals to network and establish working relationships with others in the field.