Panorama Blog

Welcome!  Please visit the Panorama homepage for information about Panorama or visit the newsletter archives to access the print and online published newsletters. Are you interested in authoring a blog post?  Contact the Panorama editor for details.  All ideas are welcome!

RMAIR Elections: Call for Nominations

Please consider running or nominating someone for one of two executive officer positions in RMAIR that will elected this year.  RMAIR will be electing a Vice-President and a Treasurer. Each office is a three year term.

Vice-President will serve a three year term, one-year as Vice-President, one-year as President, and the final year as the Immediate Past President.  The duties over the three years are:

  • Vice-President Duties of the Vice-President shall be determined in consultation with the President.
  • President shall be in charge of the overall operation of RMAIR, as well as having responsibility for the supervision of all assigned and delegated duties.
  • Immediate Past President shall chair and appoint a nominating committee to prepare a slate of candidates for Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. He/she will also serve in an advisory capacity to the President and will oversee the nominations for emeritus status

Treasurer shall be responsible for keeping proper financial accounts including:

  • Proposing an annual budget, recording expenses, maintaining the RMAIR bank account, and
  • Providing financial reports to the RMAIR membership. The Treasurer is responsible for
  • Maintaining and filing proper paperwork with the IRS to maintain 501(c)(3) status, including filing taxes and submitting the W-9 form.

Emeritus Member.   You may also nominate someone for RMAIR Emeritus Status. Emeritus Status recognizes longstanding membership and contributions to RMAIR.

Emeritus Members –Members with five years of RMAIR membership throughout their career, who are either retired or have worked at least 20 years in Institutional Research (broadly defined) may be considered for Emeritus status.  Emeritus members do not pay membership dues and pay only the direct cost of conferences (food/hotel). Last October in Bozeman we recognized Hans L’Orange; Mark Chisholm; and Robert Loveridge as new emeritus members to RMAIR.

State RMAIR Membership:  At the RMAIR business meeting held at the AIR conference in Washington D.C.  it was proposed that Washington State be admitted as a participating member of RMAIR.  Current individual membership (bylaws section 3) is open to anyone having professional interest in activities related to institutional research. The primary focus for RMAIR is for those individuals from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and Canada, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Potential impact of adding Washington:  bylaws section 3 & 5 will need to be amended: “Winners of the election for officers shall require a majority of those voting, providing the vote includes at least 20 RMAIR members from five of the eleven Rocky Mountain States or provinces.”

To nominate someone for RMAIR executive officer or for emeritus status please send the following by July 28th, 2017 to pastpresident@rmair.org.   You may nominate yourself.

  • Name
  • Position they are being nominated for (Vice-President, Treasurer, Emeritus)
  • Institution where they are currently/last employed
  • Contact information (email, phone number)
  • Brief BIO – or statement of interest and goals as an officer or reason the individual is deserving of emeritus status

If you have any comments pro or con regarding admitting Washington State as a member state to RMAIR you may forward those as well and they will be summarized into the voting ballot.

Thank you to all who will consider serving in the RMAIR organization.  The quality of the membership in RMAIR is what makes it one of the best affiliates in the Association for Institutional Research.

Community Correlations: Institutional Analysis at the University of Utah

By Erika Hill, Senior Research Analyst, University of Utah

Institutional Analysis [IA] at the University of Utah has evolved substantially since we welcomed the RMAIR Conference to Salt Lake City in 2013. A new director, development of a partner office in Institutional Data Management and Visualization [IDMV], and a recent restructure that merged IDMV with IA have helped to bring the office to the forefront of data reporting and analysis. Led by Director Mike Martineau, our eight person team consists of two main areas of focus: Data and Reporting & Research and Analytics. The Data and Reporting area is primarily responsible for federal and state reporting, external surveys, and process automation. Jenna Link manages this group while Susan Schaefer provides database support and expertise. Breanne Humphries serves as our resident Tableau guru and Ben White is our self-proclaimed “King of Surveys.”

The other half of the IA team is Research & Analytics. Senior Analysts Joyce Garcia and Erika Hill have primary responsibility for the ad hoc requests, longer-term projects, as well as research involving deeper-levels of analysis. Moreover, they serve as strategic thought partners and data evangelists for many constituencies on campus. The Student Data Warehouse Analysts Scott Mikos and Luis Oquendo each work with a group of colleges as their dedicated data person and help provide descriptive and inferential analyses to help influence decisions on the college level.

The exciting and strategic restructuring of IA was in direct response to the increasing demand for relevant data and analysis by our administration, namely our CFO, Cathy Anderson, and our Provost, Ruth Watkins. Under their direction and that of Mark Winter, the recently appointed Executive Director over the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis, IA will continue to play the increasingly-important role of providing empirical evidence and analysis that influences the institution’s decisions, policies, and future.

Community Correlations

By Sarah Smith, Panorama Editor

Panorama is starting a new series of blog posts called “Community Correlations.”  This series will highlight an individual person or team from our RMAIR membership every month that tells who they are, what they do (and/or their research areas of interest), and how they contribute to their institution.  I hope that this new series will help us get to know each other better, highlight the value of Institutional Research, and illustrate the similarities and differences in how IR impacts our institutions.

If you know of an IR individual or team at your institution who you would like to highlight, please send me 2-3 paragraphs about them and how they contribute at panorama@rmair.org.  I hope this effort will help us all to feel connected as an IR community beyond our annual conferences.

Thank you!

Thinking Outside the Box (or in this case, Outside the State), Part II

By Sandy Bryan, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Cochise College

Thank you for stopping back in to learn a bit more about Remote Working, or Telework, or Telecommuting, or Remote Employment. A job, by any other name….

Last month’s article laid the groundwork for our decision to explore a telework partnership with an analyst who was leaving the area due to her spouse’s relocation. This month I’d like to share with you the results of my research about this type of working arrangement.

I learned that considerations for continued employment fell into three general areas: benefits (health insurance), facilities/equipment/supplies, and working conditions. Below is an outline of these areas and the concerns I encountered within each.

Benefits: Compensation In Lieu Of Healthcare

The healthcare system in our state is not transportable to other states except in the case of emergencies. Since my analyst was moving out of state, I had to consider alternate healthcare benefits to stay in line with federal mandates and to ensure she was receiving full compensation for her work.

Search the internet with the phrase “compensation in lieu of benefits” to find out more about this alternative.

Facilities, Equipment, and Supplies

Office space

The employee provides a personal and appropriate space for the job function.

Equipment

The college provides the employee with the necessary equipment to perform the job function. Network access to the employee’s computer will be provided to college Information Technology technicians to upload, install, and configure all necessary software. At a minimum, the college will provide and update a computer with the following, as necessary:

  • Startup and System Password Protection
  • Up-to-date operating system
  • Task software (Microsoft Access, Excel and Word, FTP, Teamviewer, Oracle, Java, Zoom, Security, SQL Developer)
  • Camera and microphone to facilitate Zoom meetings

We asked the employee to provide:

  • Internet connection – minimum connectivity of 20-25 mbps download speed
  • Appropriate surge suppression for computer

Secure storage environment for equipment/files

A secure FTP site will be established by the college and utilized for exchange of documents. College-related data will not be stored locally, either printed or in electronic format.

Office and printing supplies

The college should provide a stipend to compensate the employee for office and printing supplies.

Cell phone

The college should provide a stipend to compensate the employee for use of a personal cell phone during working hours.

Working Conditions

  1.  Equipment may not be used for personal purposes.
  2. The employee is required to participate in multiple weekly Zoom meetings.
  3. The employee is required to make a minimum of four trips annually, up to 3 days each, to campus, reimbursable up to the cost from the home of record. Convocation and Commencement will be two required trips; the remaining trips will be at the discretion of the Dean. Trips will typically coincide with major project planning/completion or provide professional development. The number and length of trips can be flexed depending on the distance the employee will need to travel.
  4. The work schedule will be similar to an on-campus work schedule, with flexibility for time zone changes.
  5. The employee must be reachable via telephone, within reason, during agreed upon work hours.
  6. The employee must notify the supervisor if the employee leaves their working location.
  7. The employee must agree to call in to the college’s voice mail system to retrieve messages at least 2 times per day.
  8. The employee is required to complete a Confidentiality agreement.
  9. The employee is required to follow established security protocols.

 Task/Deliverable Requirements

  1.  The employee follows an established calendar of recurring task responsibilities.
  2. The employee works to meet established goals, including clear due dates, common processes to follow, and established deliverables.

With some minor tweaking, most of the above items were included in the employee’s Telework Contract. This contract is separate from the annual college employment contract and may be terminated by either party with a 30 day notice. A longer notice period was established so there is additional time for the college to receive its computer, close down any accounts, and other tasks that take longer given the distance. Both the employee and I appreciated the extended time frame.

Watch for a final post in the coming months about how things are working out!

Job Announcement

Received from: Christine Lighty, Associate Director of Institutional Research, University of Idaho

The University of Idaho has an opening for a Programmer/Analyst in our Institutional Research office.  Our office has 3 institutional research analysts (including this vacancy) as well as an Associate Director, Accreditation and Assessment Analyst, and a Director.

The starting salary range is $18.01 – $22.81/hour, or higher depending on experience. It is a benefited, overtime-eligible position.  To ensure first consideration of the position, applications should be received no later than August 30, 2016. The position will remain open until a suitable application is identified. Applicants who are selected as final possible candidates must be able to pass a criminal background check.  We hope to have the position filled by October 1, 2016.

Applicants who are interested may check the following website for more information:

https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/14946

This is a Staff/Professional position.  Search for Programmer/Analyst in the Institutional Research & Assessment department.

Thinking Outside the Box (or in this case, Outside the State)

By Sandy Bryan, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Cochise College

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Or so it seemed to me. In the space of two weeks, I learned that both of my research analysts were leaving the institution at about the same time – one would retire at the end of the fiscal year and the other was resigning due to spousal relocation.

The analyst who was relocating had only been with the college 7 months, but her hiring process was long, drawn out, and challenging. It consisted of numerous conversations with Human Resources about job advertisement and several failed searches. And as if that were not enough, we felt compelled to re-write the job description and reclassify the position to a higher entry level. Finally, after 9 months, we succeeded in hiring a new analyst. I felt that the task of filling two positions was going to be arduous, especially since we wanted to keep the office functioning during what may be another lengthy hiring process. Might there be a way to keep my fledgling analyst?

I did not want to lose a dedicated employee with so much potential. Plus we had already invested a lot of time and resources into her position-related training. As soon as I received her letter of resignation, I began to plot with my supervisor how best to retain her services. I knew chaining her to her desk was not an option; however I just had to keep her on my payroll. Fortunately, we enjoy a part-time remote association with a former full-time analyst that relocated several years ago. Because of this situation, it dawned on me that a remote working relationship with our newest employee would be the only way to keep her on staff. Though the college has never had a full-time remote employee, I was determined to not let this stand in my way.

The more research I conducted into best practices for remote employment, the more feasible the idea became. First, the institutional research analyst position lends itself to a remote working arrangement. The work is done almost exclusively on the computer and much of the position’s time is spent connecting securely to databases and mining for data to answer research and survey related questions. Project requestors and stakeholders can be reached via telephone or email, and our institution recently implemented new video-conferencing software that can make face-to-face meet and greets possible.

I began to think this thing could work. My supervisor and I continued researching existing full-time remote employee scenarios and, as luck would have it, I met a young woman from Seattle who was working remotely for a major university. She kindly agreed to answer general questions I had about her working situation. Putting all of this together, I came up with a list of recommendations related to benefits, facilities, equipment, and supplies (who provides what), and working conditions. We were getting close to something really, really big!!

Next month, I’ll discuss in more detail the remote employment recommendations that we presented to our Vice President of Human Resources. Stay tuned!

RMAIR – Update

By Joseph Curtin, RMAIR President and Assistant Commissioner – Institutional Research & Analysis, Utah System of Higher Education

We had a great turnout at the RMAIR SIG meeting that was held in New Orleans on June 1st. Thanks to all who were able to come and join us. With the national conference over and summer in full swing, I would like to remind all that there are several things that they should look for over the summer.

Nominations for RMAIR leadership: This year we will elect a new Vice-President and a Secretary. The Vice-President is a three year commitment with the first year as the Vice President, then a year as the President and the final year as the immediate past-president. The RMAIR Secretary is also elected to a three year term. The responsibilities of the Secretary include: taking minutes of the annual business meeting and at the RMAIR special interest group meeting at the AIR Forum. If the Secretary is unable to attend either of these meetings, s/he may arrange for another individual to record meeting proceedings. The Secretary will be responsible for maintaining a current list of membership, providing and maintaining permanent historical records of RMAIR activities, and overseeing elections and voting.

Please consider either running for one of these office yourself or nominating someone from a RMAIR state who will be committed to RMAIR. Nominations for either the Vice-President or the Secretary position may be sent to pastpresident@rmair.org.

Nominations for Emeritus Status: Each year at the annual meeting, RMAIRians have the opportunity to honor long-time members by granting them Emeritus status. Traditionally these are people who have recently retired. To date, we have three nominees; Hans L’Orange, Mark Chisholm, and Fred Lillibridge. If you know of other deserving people, please send your nominations to the RMAIR Past-President at pastpresident@rmair.org.

Conference Proposals: Sometime in the next few weeks, you should see the call-for-proposals for the RMAIR annual conference. The conference will be held in Bozeman, Montana on October 26-28th. The annual meeting will also host a pre-conference workshop made possible by our train-the-trainer grant. This workshop will be – IR & IE: Enhancing Personal and Professional Effectiveness provided by Mya Starling. More information will be available soon at the www.rmair.org website.

One goal identified in the RMAIR strategic plan is to expand the membership in RMAIR. Now is a great opportunity to do so. RMAIR is once again waiving the membership fee this year so it costs nothing to join RMAIR. Now would be a great time to reach out to interested faculty and students and invite them to join us in Bozeman and present their research. Full-time graduate and undergraduate students are only charged one-half the conference registration fee to attend, helping to make the RMAIR conference an affordable option to obtain valuable conference presentation experience.

I look forward to our next RMAIR meeting in Bozeman and hope to see you all there.

Too Much of a Good Thing

By Ann Murray, Director of Institutional Research, Laramie County Community College

As I was pondering what to write about, many thoughts kept bouncing around in my mind. This is probably a sign of the ever-increasing demand on rarely-increasing resources that many in IR are struggling with. The things that have been occupying my thoughts at the end of this academic year can be boiled down to “too much of a good thing.”

At Laramie County Community College (LCCC), we seemed to have turned an important corner. Including data and information to develop improvement strategies and for evaluating operational effectiveness is the accepted practice across the college. Areas making decisions based on anecdote rather than statistically reliable evidence now seem to be in the minority.  More people are requesting more new recurring reports to incorporate into ongoing processes, which has raised the profile and the value of our IR functions.  It has also increased people’s expectations.  This is all good and something that we have been working toward for many years.

What’s not so good is that our resources haven’t increased and, with the budget constraints that Wyoming is facing for the next several years, that won’t change any time soon. So we need to find ways to streamline our reporting processes and be more efficient. Some things we’re trying include:

  • Using existing reports as much as possible to answer ad hoc questions,
  • Developing a two-three year research agenda,
  • Increasing the visibility and use of our online resources, and
  • Distributing our annual reporting calendar more widely so that people will know when to expect what data.

That brings me to my big question for you: what are you doing to better manage your workload and balance the demands on staff time?

Job Announcement

Received from: Christine Lighty, Associate Director of Institutional Research, University of Idaho

The University of Idaho has two openings for Programmer/Analysts and one opening for an Assessment Analyst in its Institutional Research & Assessment office.

The screening begins on May 4.

Programmer/Analyst (two positions open)
These positions are responsible for the design, creation, and maintenance of institutional data reports. Duties include the development and maintenance of programming and analysis to develop reports from the student information system and other centralized data repositories as requested and needed by University Administrative offices, University centers, colleges, academic and academic support departments. These positions requires a Bachelor’s degree and experience designing programs and performing analysis. Salary range: $18.01 – $22.81 per hour or higher DOE. For more information or to apply visit http://apptrkr.com/781849 . Announcement #SP000889P.  EOE/AA/M/F/D/V

Accreditation and Assessment Analyst (one position open)
This position works with academic and service/support units to monitor the University’s various assessment activities. These are used to assist in compliance with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities’ mandates and guidelines. This position requires a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, Research or Evaluation, Public or Business Administration or similar field. For more information or to apply visit http://apptrkr.com/783774 . Announcement #SP000890P. EOE/AA/M/F/D/V