Education Technology

Using the air-educause-nacubo analytics statement to inspire urgency


  • Keith McIntosh, CIO, University of Richmond, @Keith_McIntosh
  • Elizabeth Clune-Kneuer, Director of Analytics and Reporting, Prince George’s Community College, @eliza_c_k
  • Robinson Neidhardt, Strategy Director of Technology, Association for Institutional Research (AIR), @rneidhardt
  • Betsy Reinitz, Director of Enterprise IT Programs, EDUCAUSE, @btippens
  • Lindsay Wayt, Director, Analytics, NACUBO, @WaytNoMore


“Analytics is the use of data, statistical analysis, and explanatory and predictive models to gain insight and act on complex issues.” Why is analytics important? It enables leaders like you to be data-informed.

BR provided an introduction to the statement, which has six principles:

  1. Make an institutional commitment to analytics
  2. Prepare for detours on road to success
  3. It’s a team sport, build your dream team
  4. Invest what you can
  5. Has a real impact on real people, avoid the pitfalls (ethics & data security, privacy)
  6. Time to act is now

RN: Keith, you’ve improved use of analytics on your campus, how did you get started?

KM: I’ve been there since 2016. We had no internal capacity, so our admissions leadership outsourced this aggressively. Once we got the process rolling, our IT and IR teams initiated our data warehouse project.

LW: can you talk about analytics journey, Elizabeth?

ECK: we have a blended responsibility for our campus data management and BI processes. Training was about three hours and very intensive and actually caused more harm than good (it’s too complicated, I don’t know where to begin). I took a risk by saying “we’re not doing this right now.” We instead provided open-office hours for folk who needed assistance with data, providing consulting services for people who had questions they needed answers to. We set up some working groups, anchored by professionals who are custodians of particular data sets. This helped people feel more comfortable and less isolated about working with a range of analytics data. This generated additional work for us, which is actually a good thing, because we’re able to help them move the conversation forward in more advanced ways.

RN: how did you build capacity for campus to have more productive conversations about data?

ECK: we asked what do people want to know? What will help you understand this better? We created a series of data discussions about things people should know more about, i.e. enrollment perceptions versus reality. The president attended our first meeting, which demonstrated the value of this effort to the campus. Our second meeting coincided with our KPI/planning efforts. Instead of doing two topics, we decided to do “KPI Cafe” meetings to address things at a pace we could handle. This had the side effect of being a good way to promote our efforts and raise our profile as leaders in this space. This was a great professional development opportunity for our younger staff. We worked with our marketing team to help us make our messaging more digestible (and branded) via infographics. This has allowed us to make better products.

LW: Mac, what’s been your approach to addressing analytics on your campus?

KM: in my role as a leader, I need to listen to what’s happening in cabinet and what my colleagues need to do their job well. Strategically, what does the campus need with technology? I need to be a regular participant and provide the logistics needed to make sure the toolset works. We also have to provide training and support. In my first seven cabinet meetings, we did not discuss data once. I had to convince folk that data IS a part of your job. We’re looking at having more conversations with our advancement team, similar to what we did for enrollment management before. We needed to create governance around our data, because there are still ownership concerns (it’s institutional data, not your personal data). Just in the last week, we created a data governance committee, and we now have a monthly meeting for our IR, IT and planning office.

Question: Mac, can you tell the story of your 18-month journey of getting folk to understand the data governance and stewardship needs on your campus? We hired a couple consultants to help us wrap our minds around this, it would have been hard to do this ourselves. We needed to understand exactly how we’re doing business today, and the gaps preventing us from getting to where we want to be in the future. I gave a presentation on the results of this effort to cabinet, and they blessed our way forward. From here, we were able to establish data governance committees. We’re still working through data siloing, but there at least is an understanding that this is a long-term process.

ECK: we needed to make institutional changes that took time for our community to understand. The efforts need to be teachable, especially where we run into problems of implementation.

Question: building your dream team and investing take money? How did you convince people to spend money on these things?

KM: stewardship is a pillar of our campus’ strategic plan. We want to improve things without being “additive,” can we do things more efficiently? In order to do this, we need to have people who are honest data brokers who can handle that.

ECK: we have two teams looking at analysis and effectiveness. Lines between our groups have blurred. Each team needs to be able to support the other. We’ve done focus groups to help us understand the assessment team’s analytics data. Asking for help is…helpful! I’ve moved analysts from one team to the opposite side in certain cases (leading versus interpreting data analysis efforts).

Question: talk about your efforts around transparency.

ECK: we talk about what we’re going to look at, it’s not a black box. Once we unpack that, people are generally more comfortable with talking about our work. We talk about these things in our data stewardship meetings, which also helps.

By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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