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BU has created a new department to address what President Robert A. Brown calls the “stunning transformations” from “massive amounts of data” in the University’s operations. The department, mostly staffed by existing employees, will require only one new position.
The new Data Governance and Institutional Research (DGIR) department, which will work to improve analysis, will be led by Linette Decarie (Wheelock’16), currently director of institutional research, Brown told the University Leadership Group in a recent letter.
Decarie’s new title will be assistant vice president of data governance and institutional research. In that capacity, she will report to Tracy Schroeder, vice president of information services and technology, who now will have the additional title of chief data officer.
“Up until this point, we have had staff creating repositories of data,” Schroeder says, “building data models and analytical tools as well as performing queries on data.” Both Institutional Research and Information Services & Technology have done this work, and “many of their skills are similar,” she says. “By bringing the teams together, we can take advantage of synergies in skills and knowledge and accomplish even more.”
Decarie says the reorganization will shift 11 Institutional Research employees, including her, to the new department. “This move will enable us to bring together our technical and analytical resources to better focus on issues that affect the students, faculty, and staff at BU,” she says, while also improving University-wide access to data.
The sources of data relevant to the University and driving the reorganization include social media, devices connected to BU’s network, and digital scholarship and research, Schroeder says. Some of this information is big data, comprising voluminous records. Other information is of a new type, such as student-produced videos.
Colleges and universities are working to manage and analyze this diverse data “in the interest of student success and institutional strategy,” she notes.
Derek Howe, BU’s vice president for budget and capital planning, says Decarie “has been involved in a variety of efforts supporting institutional data needs over the years,” preparing her to head the new department. “While there are some logistics of duties to still work out regarding our teams, there will also be many opportunities for change and growth that will result in a more efficient operation.”
Brown’s letter to University leaders said that the cyber-tsunami of new data available to BU is reshaping everything from research to administration and marketing.
“As both the quantity and complexity of relevant data expand,” he wrote, “we need to enhance our institutional capabilities to strategically gather, define, analyze, and provide data to our community and external constituencies.”