The AIR Professional File
Spring 2019, Article 145

From Data Crisis to Data-Centric

Rebekah Anderson, Nichole Rip


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The main purpose of institutional research (IR) is to provide objective, systematic, and thorough data that support an institution’s enrollment goals, planning, policy formation, and decision making. Traditionally, institutions gathered data on their activities, students and staff, programs, management, and operations. University staff then analyzed and interpreted those data to inform decision making down the road. In the case of our institution, there was only limited and non-cohesive data when a reorganization of the personnel and department structure occurred. The purpose of this paper is to explain the strategies and institutional shift University of Western States (UWS) used to facilitate strategic and data-driven decision making; how UWS improved the data, technology operations, and data management to cultivate an environment of data stewards; and how UWS turned these data into valuable information to use for strategic decision support.

Keywords: Institutional research, data governance, infrastructure, alignment, automation, executive buy-in, trust, business analysts, database, data management, information systems

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Rebekah Anderson, University of Western States

Nichole Rip, University of Western States


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