The mission of Institutional Research is to provide university leaders, faculty and staff, state and federal constituencies with timely, easily accessible and accurate information to help create an academic learning environment and to enhance institutional effectiveness.
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IR supports various data collection, storage and clean-up efforts at the university. The office has been tasked with spearheading the Data Integrity Steering Committee, which involves developing relationships among the various data management officers and working with them to ensure the development and use of standard and consistent definitions, developing audit procedures to catch anomalies, and coordinating the inspection of data and information released. IR maintains a growing, centralized library of historical institutional data and seeks to enhance data fluency at the institution.
At the behest of the university administrators, faculty and staff, as well as other institutional stakeholders, IR conducts research on contemporary issues related to higher education or to the mission of the university. Internally, IR conducts numerous analyses of university data, including researching student retention, projecting and modeling future enrollment, and longitudinal studies of key performance indicators. Lately institutional researchers have also been taking on an increasing role in policy analysis. New government mandates about reporting, requirements from accrediting bodies, and ratings and rankings such as U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” require institutional research professionals to evaluate external events and demands placed on the university.
IR works with departments across the university to comply with requests from various external entities: the federal government (e.g., Department of Education—IPEDS) and local government, accrediting bodies (e.g., SACS, ABET), numerous publishers of online and print materials (e.g., U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, Princeton Review), and other groups.
IR collects and disseminates institutional data to a wide range of administrative and academic offices throughout the university. One of the most important reports generated is the Official Count Report (OCR), which establishes student headcount and credit hours for each term. It is the basis for budgetary and resource allocation as well external reporting. To help with dissemination of university data, IR has begun the process of expanding the institution’s Business Intelligence footprint. Development of an Executive Dashboard is the office’s first step in further increasing data fluency at the university.