Apperson recently hosted a four-part live webinar series with Dr. W. Allen Richman, Senior Director for Research for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The series focuses on using data to improve your institutional effectiveness. Check out the recap of part one below!

The “data-clock” has already started ticking. Institutions must be:

  • standardizing their data infrastructure
  • organizing personnel to work cross-functionally
  • establishing strong effective data governance
  • sharing data broadly

Every institutions challenge:

  • federal reports
  • state reports
  • strategic planning
  • institutional effectiveness
  • student learning outcomes assessment
  • research projects
  • data requests
  • departmental data
  • data for a webpage
  • etc.

Currently Unsustainable

Enrollments are down and will likely stay down. “Non-traditional” students’ attendance is largely driven by unemployment, and there are fewer “traditional” high school graduates nationwide. NCES Projects 2% fewer graduates in 2023 than there were in 2010, although not all states face the same situation.

Even without these enrollment concerns, the continuous expansion of administrators and staff is not a viable solution. 517,636 administrators and professional employees were added from 1997-2012 (American Institute for Research, 2014).

higher education graph
















That being said, the need for data isn’t going away. Therefore, one person can’t do the job alone.

The Solution

Collaboration, integration, and compromise are essential. All offices should use common definitions for institutional effectiveness. All systems should be integrated so all academic record data is in one system. Data shared across the institution with all stakeholders.

Where Are You?

We can no longer spend countless hours on “data hunts.” We have to focus on critical questions. How have we been performing in the past? How are we performing today? How will we be performing in the next 2-3 years? With regards to data, it means collaboratively asking: what data does the institution need? When does the institution need these data? How will the data be shared? Who needs to be informed about these data?

If you build it, they will not come. Every office must engage in active reporting of data and everyone needs to be held accountable for the data.

Who Needs to Be Informed?

“Informed” isn’t about a lecture on the data. It’s about active and critical conversations at all of the appropriate places at your institution: faculty senate, staff meetings, committee meetings, cabinet meetings, board meetings, etc.

Part two will talk about “data offices” and how they can operate to meet institutional needs.

To watch the entire webinar hosted by Dr. W. Allen Richman, Senior Director for Research for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, click here!