Special Features

  • Special Feature / Interview
  • 03.24.20

Newly Elected Officers Share Vision

  • by eAIR

AIR elections, which closed earlier this month, produced a dynamic set of new officers who are looking toward the future of higher education and our association. eAIR caught up with these members and posed the question: What is your top priority/what do you hope to accomplish as part of the Board or Nominations and Elections Committee over the next year?” See what their goals are for the immediate future and read about their experiences regarding the election process.

Vice President

AIR’s Board, Nominations and Elections Committee, volunteers, and members have already done such amazing work in advocating and helping us to advance data-informed decision making. This organization has showcased various data tools, techniques, and platforms, and then made those resources available to members and those in the AIR community to use at their own institutions. In turn, we comprehensively understand the culture of our institutions and can unearth the nuances of how our system operates and what type of environment stimulates the success of our students, making us all better advisors in how we support institutional effectiveness. My priority is to help us promote the human capacity in our unique educational settings and impart a holistic approach in the storytelling of our students lived college experiences inside and outside of the classroom, including how our institution’s organizational structure contributes to student development. I hope to help the Board advance the critical mission and objectives AIR established with an intentional focus on how we share our institutional story by applying a social justice lens to enhance the programming, training, and services we provide to our members and the AIR community.

“From learning I was nominated by my peers, then completing the nominee questionnaire to the Board approving me as a Vice President candidate for the ballot through the election period until I was notified that I had won, was a surreal experience. I felt honored that I was nominated, and I wanted to convey my passion and desire to be a change agent and make an impact on the work that AIR and its members conduct. Overall, the election process was thoughtful and easy to go through because of the support provided by all those involved in selecting candidates. I also greatly appreciated how intentional the Nominations and Elections Committee was about being inclusive regarding the candidates they selected for the ballot. I have always been impressed with those who have served AIR, and being part of this process only echoes that sentiment.“

Junelyn Pangan Peeples, Director of Assessment and Institutional Research & Accreditation Liaison Officer, Scripps College


At my first AIR Forum, I connected with current members and quickly established a new professional community open to sharing knowledge, providing feedback, and supporting my goals as a small IR office. The knowledge I have gained through AIR has enabled me to anticipate and identify data needs on my campus, build an office that serves as a resource for data and information, and support campus leadership in using data to make informed decisions. As a Board member, I hope to focus on the ways we maintain AIR’s commitment to empowering data-informed decision making in higher education while still being sensitive to members’ needs around inclusivity, accessibility, and affordability. I welcome input from our members as to what they consider to be benefits that add value to their membership.

“I am honored and excited to serve in this role. AIR has had an important role in my own professional growth, and I welcome the opportunity to support to an organization that has made such a difference to me.”

Laura Palucki Blake, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Harvey Mudd College

In the short term, I will aim for AIR, like our respective campuses, to emerge from the current global health crisis as a stronger organization. In the medium term, I would like to see deeper involvement from AIR in thought leadership about higher education policy, including areas of institutional accountability, student success, research impact, quality education, and affordability.

“I am deeply humbled to have been elected among a field of incredibly talented colleagues to serve on the Board, and I am grateful to the members and professional staff who made standing for election such a welcoming and smooth process. The nomination process prompts candidates to reflect on and envision the future of the association and the profession in ways that day-to-day life on a campus doesn't really afford.”

Braden Hosch, Associate Vice President for Institutional Research, Planning & Effectiveness, Stony Brook University

Higher education leaders tackling today’s most salient issues can benefit from detailed consultation with and strategic leveraging of their institution’s data. Yet a common complaint is how much information and data reside in silos. Meanwhile, IR professionals have the best seat in the house! I hope to advance the momentum of AIR, EDUCAUSE, and NACUBO’s joint statement on the centrality of data in making sound decisions. We need to celebrate exemplars of campus collaborations in order to help stakeholders at all levels recognize that reaching out to their IR colleagues leads to fruitful partnerships.

“I felt that the election process was a rigorous one that required those hoping to be put on the ballot to self-reflect on their commitment to the profession and their preparation to serve with integrity. I appreciated going through the process as it helped me solidify my willingness to serve.“

Elizabeth Lee, Director of Institutional Research, University of Portland

Nominations and Elections Committee Members

Over the next year, working with my Nominations and Elections Committee colleagues, I hope to identify emerging leaders from diverse and balanced backgrounds who can assist in moving the association forward, conducting a fair and impartial election in accordance with AIR’s bylaws.

“It’s an honor to be elected by my AIR colleagues to serve on the Nominations and Election Committee. I think it’s important to stand for election and continue the great work of AIR.”

—Craig Abbey, Associate Vice President and Director of Institutional Analysis, University at Buffalo

As part of the Nominations and Elections Committee, I am excited to spend the next year working with the other really great people on the committee to continue the great track record of assembling a top notch slate of candidates for AIR leadership, while also ensuring that we are hearing a variety of voices from across the field. In order to ensure a diverse slate of candidates, I would ask whether we are seeing representation from different sectors of higher education, different types of institutions, offices, races, and genders, etc. I would ask my colleagues on the committee to take a longer historical view of the recent nominations to ensure that across time we are keeping our eye on the composition of the Board and Nominations and Elections Committee long-term, so that we don't unknowingly get to a point where we do not have adequate representation.

“Being a part of the election process was a time of both excitement and nerves—excitement as I considered the potential for this new opportunity to serve AIR and its members, but nerves knowing that the Nominations and Elections Committee was putting together a really great slate of candidates and everyone wouldn’t win. It is such an honor to be nominated and to be on the ballot alongside such other wonderful IR professionals.”

Bethany Miller, Director of Institutional Research, Mary Baldwin University 

I think the future of higher education will be challenged by anticipated declines in high school graduates (leading to more competition for students), likely continued declines in public funding, and continued public pressure to keep tuition rates low. As a result, leadership from IR offices on using data to inform decision making will become more critical. Institutional research has moved from a place where there is one central office that has all the data and works exclusively with senior leadership, to data being available and used in many different offices and at many levels of the institution. I see the role of IR professionals shifting more to capacity building, data governance, and building data literacy. I also see that we have moved from an era where institutions did not have enough data, to an era where there is an abundance of data. Consequently, IR work will shift from answering questions about how we collect new data, to how we make the best use of the data we have. As part of the Nominations and Elections Committee, I hope to engage a diverse array of professionals that will help shape the future of institutional research and address these new challenges.

“I am honored to be elected, and I look forward to meeting, working with, and learning from this excellent group of leaders in institutional research.”

Meridith Wentz, Assistant Chancellor for Planning, Assessment, Research, and Quality, University of Wisconsin-Stout

For more information about these newly elected officers and the election process, visit our election results page and nominations and elections process page, respectively.

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