The Office of the Provost is making institutional data more readily available and will be delivering it in easier to understand formats.
The idea behind several recent initiatives is to give college and department leaders pertinent, comparable institutional data, empowering them to make sound decisions based on strategic goals and economic realities.
"We want to be much more transparent and coordinated about our funding and our resources, and to do that everyone needs to start on the same page with the same information," said Ilesanmi Adesida, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. "We need to have this intensive cooperation as we prepare to implement the goals of the three-year Strategic Plan."
Leaders have purchased a campuswide subscription to Academic Analytics, a data tool that provides scholarly productivity metrics for departments and fields and is used by many peer institutions.
And they have purchased Tableau, a data visualization software program that takes information from the Campus Profile and transforms it into easy-to-understand charts and graphs.
Stig Lanesskog, the associate provost for strategic planning and assessment, said the purchases complement each other because Tableau will make the data - traditionally compiled and delivered in a dry, line-item spreadsheet format - easier to understand and more valuable to a wider campus audience.
"I think it will help all of us to better understand and interpret these walls and walls of data that we have at our fingertips," he said. "It will be more consumable and more consistent."
He said being able to use the data more strategically will lead to more effective decisions at the local level as leaders work with faculty and staff members to develop departmental goals and track progress.
"They will have better information so they can enhance the excellence of their units every year," he said.
He said the information would also be valuable for sharing campuswide and peer comparative data during external review and accreditation processes.
Amy Edwards, an assistant provost and the director of the Division of Management Information, said the Academic Analytics data can prove valuable for those using it.
"We can go in and make comparisons internally or with other institutions," she said. "It tracks scholarly research data, such as published articles, citations, grants and awards, and can be used to compare information by doctoral programs or at the department and university levels."
She said the campus has aggregate data, not individual faculty details. "It can help units see where they are," she said. "They can see their strengths, compared to their peers, and areas where they may need to improve."
The Office of the Provost also has started a pilot program that asks eight units to track the methods they use in allocating graduate student tuition.
Called the Graduate Tuition Allocation and Expenditure Pilot, the program provides units with a three-year average of costs associated with tuition waivers and asks that such costs be tracked in the future. This approach is standard at many peer institutions and will assist the campus in identifying how much is spent each year on graduate education.
"We need to have a better handle on all our costs at this institution and this pilot program will help us do that," Adesida said. He noted that all of these analytic tools will help the campus assess its progress in reaching the goals outlined in the new strategic plan.