e-AIR Newsletter December 2017

New Year’s Resolution: More IR Resources

Headphones Four higher education professionals from a variety of positions and settings share their suggestions for 2017 books, podcasts, and e-newsletters of interest to the IR community. We hope you enjoy this departure from the typical eAIR lead story and come away with useful resources for 2018.

In Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients, Jeremy N. Smith recounts Christopher J.L. Murray’s quest to “track and quantify every illness, injury, and death for everyone on Earth” and answer not-so-simple questions about how we live and die. Told with an engaging narrative that deserves on-screen adaptation, the book describes Murray’s pioneering work founding the Global Burden of Disease, collaborating with like-minded people to connect data and develop tools to make those data useful for improving public health policy and practice all over the world. Smith chronicles Murray’s journey—from what motivated him to do this work to how he got people to pay attention in spite of personal and political obstacles. MORE
Reflections from the Newest Board Members
Paige Borden, Shari Ellertson, and Christine Ross
Members at Large
The Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone, we are racing toward finals, and we are gearing up to bid farewell to 2017. So it’s a perfect time to reflect, right?

As the newest members at large on the Board, we decided to take a few moments amidst the hustle and bustle of December to discuss our experiences on the Board so far and what we are most looking forward to in 2018 and beyond.

The most surprising thing about serving on the AIR Board

Paige BordenPaige:
While service to IR was not new for me, the AIR policy governance model was a surprise compared to prior board experiences. We were provided with training, which was very beneficial and helped me understand the process quickly.

Christine Ross  
Christine: I agree. The AIR Board definitely does its due diligence in orienting new members. A lot of work was done at the beginning of this year’s Board service to make sure we all were on the same page regarding the policy governance model as well as to make improvements in how the Board utilizes its governance for the best interests of our membership.

Shari Ellertson  
Shari: The policy governance model has been the biggest “ah-ha” for me, too. It provides clarity of role and empowers both the Board and the Executive Office (EO) to help AIR run efficiently and effectively. Our reviews and discussions of the scheduled monitoring reports has opened my eyes to new aspects of the AIR operation. I have learned a lot more about AIR through reading them.

What we enjoy about serving on the AIR Board

I look forward to each month’s board meeting. Our monthly agendas range from policy to oversight, to determining the direction of the organization. Each discussion brings me new insights into AIR and provides me with the chance to make a significant contribution to our organization. The opportunity to participate, guide, and impact the future of AIR is extremely rewarding.

Christine: We all review agenda items well in advance of the meetings and submit questions or concerns to President Ellen Peters so that our time during the meetings moves smoothly and efficiently. The Board discussions are always quite robust and, as a newbie to the Board, I listen intently to learn as much as possible, such as what has already transpired on the various topics. I also chime in to share feedback I have received from my IR colleagues.

Shari: I agree that our monthly meetings are well organized, informative, and enriching. It is nice to hear updates from the EO as well, and I have come to appreciate their work in new ways. It is reassuring to know there is a group of people who go to work each day thinking about how they can help our profession and the people in it. We are fortunate!

What we want others to know about the AIR Board

I would like others to know that the Board culture is one that that invites questions, fosters rich discussion, and welcomes differing opinions. One demonstration of that is the listening sessions we are holding throughout this year to engage with members and others about the issues and needs in our profession. It’s an exciting time to be in IR and to help shape the future of our work.

Christine: I see my role as one of listener/information gatherer/messenger. I try to gather feedback from AIR members regarding issues facing IR as well as what AIR members want from our AIR organization. I can then take what I learn back to the Board for use in planning and decision making so that the AIR Board is positioned to serve our membership, no matter the size of the institution or IR office.

Paige: So true! We don’t just represent ourselves, we represent ALL the members of AIR. The elected members of the AIR Board rely on your input, your opinions, and your willingness to serve and volunteer. MORE
Keeping AIR Members Informed
MCMC and AIR are pleased to bring you a webinar on 1/25/2018 1:00PM on IR for Military Connected Student Success MORE

The 2017-18 Common Data Set template is now available MORE
The Future of Undergraduate Education
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences organized its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education to take a broad view of undergraduate education in all its manifestations and recommend ways to ensure that students in every program and institution receive the education they need to succeed... MORE.
IR Employee Motivation and Retention
Dear Dale: I have recently been promoted to IR director at my institution, and have several IR Analysts who now work for me. Can you provide some guidance on retaining and motivating these employees?

Congratulations on your recent promotion! Employee retention and motivation are a critical component of any institutional research office. Many times, these issues are not a priority as individuals start their directorship. However, retention and motivation are concerns that all levels of leadership will eventually encounter, and the sooner you understand what motivates your staff, the sooner you will benefit from lower turnover and increased productivity.

There have been numerous studies on the cost of replacing an employee, with some of the more conservative estimates being between six to nine months of the position’s salary. And that just represents a monetary estimate of filling a position and does not include the social impact of employee attrition. Think about the amount of time employees may spend pontificating why someone left the department and the rumors that may arise from such conversations. Simply put, employee turnover can have more serious consequences than budgetary implications MORE

This month’s question is answered by Dale Amburgey, Assistant Director, Institutional Research, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Use Data Effectively for Decision Making
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Why Do Data and Decisions Often Disagree? Build Your Data-Decision Toolbox
How can IR professionals effectively utilize data to inform consensus building and decision making? This presentation provides ways to foster more systematic discussions.

Presenters: Heather Kelly, William Knight, Hirosuke Honda, Yash Morimoto, and Mary Ann Coughlin

Humboldt State: College Destination
By Ward Headstrom, Data Scientist, Ronda Stemach, Data Administrator, and Michael Le, Research Associate, Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Humboldt State University

To better understand what happened to students who were admitted to Humboldt State, but did not attend, we matched data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Using Tableau, we mapped origin high school by the top 12 universities that “admitted non-attending students” attended. Using the maps and additional data tables we were able to examine several questions without surveying students. This project was loosely based on prior research (see CSU Cluster Analysis of Geocoded Data in Tableau). MORE

Data Validation in R
By Brendan J. Dugan, Research Analyst, Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University

600e00ab-a637-439e-ad7c-9eeadc4556d0.png There are many ways that mistakes can be introduced when using data, leading to wasted time and much frustration. Using different recoded variables, drawing from different data sources, and dealing with a large number of cases, for instance, can allow errors to creep into reports and potentially go unnoticed.

This eAIR Tech Tip demonstrates how to take advantage of R for checking the accuracy of data in a raw format, such as CSV, SPSS, or Excel files, by comparing two separately produced data files. Those interested in learning how to use R for the first time should consider exploring this eAIR Tech Tip, the Resources section, or searching the web for introductions to R. MORE
How IR Can and Should Support the President
Interview by Jan O’Brien, Manager of Institutional Research at Okanagan College. Jan, in true IR fashion, interviewed a college president, director of IR, and an IR data scientist to obtain each of their unique perspectives, and to determine any gaps in their perception of how IR can support a president at any institution.

Ken Burt is President of Northwest Community College in British Columbia, Canada. Ken is a previous AIR member and IR director. Ken was also an active member of CIRPA and PNAIRP. He held roles as vice president of finance at other universities prior to taking on the role of president at NWCC.

Jan: The American Council on Education’s American College President Study reports there are four areas in which presidents spend most of their time working: fundraising, budgets, community relations, and strategic planning. Budgeting was cited by respondents as the least favorite activity, and fund raising was the activity for which presidents felt least prepared. Would you agree with the report’s findings? Do you spend most of your time on these four activities?

Ken: Yes, but I would add a fifth activity, labor relations. However, I wouldn’t agree that budgeting is my least favorite. I’ve had budgeting as part of my job since I started in higher education, so I actually enjoy it and I understand it well, much to the chagrin of some. Budgets are the tools we have to shift institutional activities to align with decision making to enable strategic planning goals to be realized. I would agree that fundraising was the area I was least prepared for; however, I’ve had help from other institutions including Okanagan College. Fundraising goes with community relations, and it is fun being able to interact with the community. MORE
Ken Burt
Data Bite
IR and IT have a close working relationships at most institutions. But, exactly, what does that relationship look like? Results from the National Survey of IR Offices shows that between 68% and 76% of IR Offices (depending on sector) report to different administrative units compared to IT while 19%-28% (depending on sector) report to the same administrative unit. Only 2% of IR Offices report that they’re housed in the same department as IT. MORE

IR and IT Organizational Structure Chart
Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Innovative Higher Education

- Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition

- Mid-Western Educational Researcher

- New Directions for Institutional Research

- Research in Higher Education
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Thanks to AIR Members
Our members are not only incredibly helpful, they are a pleasure to work with. Here are some special thanks to those who have gone beyond the call of duty for our Association.
Announcements for AO and IR community conferences, meetings, institutes, and symposiums. See the LISTINGS.
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