April 28, 2017

Dear faculty and staff, 

As you know, we have been working to create a data warehouse so we can better manage our data and have more meaningful data. This will help us plan better, make more informed decisions and make sure our students' needs are met.

We are making progress on implementing this new data warehouse, analytics and visualization system known as the Insights Program. We're in the process of establishing the standards for data governance that will guide the management, use, accessibility and integrity of our data. The Data, Analytics and Institutional Research (DAIR) unit will be meeting with key stakeholders in the coming weeks to establish these standards as well as data governance councils and workgroups.

To help lead this process, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Dan Hubbard has joined us as the Director of Data Management, Training and Benchmarking. Dr. Hubbard has 12 years of progressive experience in higher education and proven leadership in data management and organizational change across large units. 

The Insights Program will offer big advantages over our current data systems because it is designed to help break down silos, allow us to do a deeper dive into the data and provide it in an easy-to-consume format. You will be able to leverage the Insights Program dashboards in real time for such things as planning for academic offerings, advising or strategic planning. Once it is fully realized in the coming years, the Insights Program will:

  • Better track retention analysis, academic progression and degree patterns
  • Show patterns of student strength and challenge
  • Combine data into readily consumable dashboards for grant and research proposals
  • Make it easier to track areas for collaboration, shared research interests, etc., for teaching, research and service
  • Provide peer analysis and nationally comparable data for benchmarking at the university, division and department level

DAIR is partnering with areas across campus and with UNT System ITSS to implement the Insights Program and associated systems. The program's first phase — slated to kick off at the end of May — include mission-critical enrollment management and finance data. Data governance councils and workgroups will be implemented in tandem with the rollout of phase one. Going forward, all data managed in the Insights Program data warehouse will have appropriate governance standards and documentation.

While the rollout is taking place, DAIR and other units with whom they partner — including Admissions, Budget Office, Registrar's Office, Student Affairs, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, and System Finance — will focus much of their time and efforts to making sure the Insights Program is successfully launched. Please take this into consideration in requesting data, especially ad hoc requests. For the next two months, I've asked DAIR to only focus on ad hoc requests that are directly related to mandatory academic program review data, data for grant submissions, state and federal reporting data needs, individual academic program accreditation processes and financial/budget reporting enhancements. 

For other ad hoc requests, you can take advantage of the data available at the DAIR website. We recognize this may create short-term burdens, but we believe it will help us achieve our long-term vision of expanding data through the Insights Program. 

Thanks for your support, patience and collaboration. With the Insights Program, we will give our students a better experience and support their success throughout their time at UNT.

UNT Proud,

Neal Smatresk