Community Conversations: Judy Miner and Joe Moreau on the Imperative to Use Analytics [video]

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Every institution has to decide when the importance of using analytics becomes bigger than the doubts and hesitations.

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Judy Miner
Foothill-De Anza Community College District

Joe Moreau
Vice Chancellor and CTO
Foothill-De Anza Community College District

John O’Brien
President and CEO

O'Brien: Welcome to another EDUCAUSE community conversation. Today we're talking about analytics and data, and I'm joined by two leaders of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. Chancellor, Judy Miner, and CIO, Joe Moreau, who's also a former EDUCAUSE board member. Welcome Judy, welcome, Joe. I wanted to start with a goofy recollection. So I remember back in 2012, there was an interview in EDUCAUSE review and it was about analytics and the title was, No More Excuses. And it makes me think every institution has to reach a point where they decide that the imperative to do analytics becomes bigger than the hesitations and the doubts and the questions. When did you reach that point at that Foothill-De Anza?

Miner: I would say that we really began a deep dive into analytics probably after the great recession in 2009. It forced us because of the drops and enrollments and just a number of other demographic changes in Silicon valley. For us to begin thinking about our place in the larger social context.

O'Brien: Nationally community colleges are under a certain amount of stress these days, financially, everyone is, in terms of enrollments, community colleges are feeling that strain more than ever. How do you make the case for investing in analytics and data at a time when resources are at a low?

Miner: When I think about making a case for data analytics and sort of the cost that's there, I'd like to start by saying, if we agree as a community on our institutional values and goals, then data and participatory governance are essential elements in achieving those goals. So, evidence-based strategies will certainly be compelling, but highly inclusive dialogue and even debate will create more commitment to an ownership of the work to be done at the operational level.

Moreau: The biggest investment that we need to be prepared to make is time. I think that for most institutions, we have gobs of data. We have the tools to visualize that data, to report on that data. But developing a culture of data ingestion, if you will, by all of those governance groups and planning groups and management groups, and really making the time to understand what the data says, to challenge it if we don't agree. And, but to be prepared, to be surprised.

O'Brien: We published a statement along with NACUBO and the Association for Institutional Research, and it's change with And in it, we said that if you're going to do analytics, those initiatives should be driven by specific outcomes, the specific results you want. I'm curious, what were your top three or top two or top outcomes that you were hoping to change with analytics?

Miner: The goals that we have at Foothill-De Anza are really about student access and success. So, I would put maybe at the top of the list, our dual mission of transfer and employability as a function of our transfer preparation and our career technical education programs. Those are equally important to us. And they're not necessarily mutually exclusive, even though some people might view it that way. Certainly having an increase in the diversity of the students who go into various areas where we have had an under-representation, whether it's around ethnicity or gender or ability or gender identity, that's really important to us that we prepare the most diverse population of students for the world that they are entering as workers. And I would say in the third area that I would want to look at, is that cultural shift for the institution. I think it's really important having picked up on something that Joe has said about being surprised by data. I really like that approach that we may discover things that we didn't know about the way we're operating. And so to be very open, to say the data need to inform ways that we would change, and not just looking for the support for opinions that we've held or practices that we've had in the institution in a very traditional way.