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Meet leader of new university unit

Sabrina Andrews at IU Bloomington on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. | Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana Unive... Indiana University has established a new unit within University Information Technology Services that will play a pivotal role in informing strategic decision-making across the university.

Sabrina Andrews will lead the Institutional Analytics unit as associate vice president. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, most recently as the executive director of the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Analytics at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. We spoke with Andrews about her new role, and the impact this new unit will have at IU.

What will Institutional Analytics do?

“This unit will be the primary unit for all institutional data reporting, both internal and external, for the university. We will also provide strategic and ad hoc analytical insights to all IU campuses — what I call the ‘a-ha’ role. We will comb through data to discover information we haven’t previously known or utilized, which will be key in helping guide IU’s future.”

What types of data will be tracked, and how will it be used?

“We will utilize all data that is collected. The most common, of course, would be student records data. There are myriad other data sources, from financials to employee to research to external data sources.

“In terms of using the data, there are three main areas of focus. The first is mandatory data reporting, which is information we must share with federal and state agencies for compliance purposes.

“We also track internal data that units regularly need for a variety of reasons. Most of the time units are looking for either what has happened in a reflective capacity, and they need that information to report to a professional accrediting agency, for example. Or they may be looking at what’s happened in the past to help guide what’s likely or possible to happen in the future, like course demand, student enrollment or revenue opportunities. I love when new deans or department chairs reach out to me and say, ‘I want to look at the last five or 10 years of what’s been happening in my unit so I can get a better understanding of how it operates.’

“Then there’s that ‘a-ha’ area I mentioned, where we can really dig into what the data is telling us and reshape it or incorporate new information to create new analytical insights. So much is already happening in this space, but as a unified university Institutional Analytics team, we can be a best-in-class organization and serve as a role model for other institutions. “

Why does IU need Institutional Analytics?

“Institutional Analytics is being recognized and prioritized in higher education as a necessity for an institution to be truly successful. It’s not just data on a piece of paper; it’s a spectrum of activities: reporting, curating data and information, finding new sources of data, and using new tools and technology to analyze data for decision-making.

“I recognize the unique challenges and opportunities that come with a multi-institution university like IU. That’s what I’m most excited for: finding areas for improved collaboration and efficiency. “

What’s the ultimate goal of this new unit?

“We are all here to help serve our students. When you think about all of the data that an institution amasses — all the student records data, staff and faculty data, research data and all the learning analytics data — we need to look at the fabric of all that information to make decisions that ultimately help improve student success.”

What makes you most excited about joining IU?

“IU is an incredible school, and there is already such a tremendous data infrastructure foundation in place and many, many talented individuals to work with. I’m thrilled to come be part of the university and help make a difference.”

Barbara Brosher is a communications consultant with IU Studios.