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 Tuesday, May 23, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Institutional Research Paints a Portrait of CU by the Numbers
by Linda Besen, Publications and Creative Services

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data," said the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. The Institutional Analysis (IA) area of the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis precludes this grave error by collecting, analyzing, distributing and assisting in the use of a staggering breadth of information about CU-Boulder.

Information is compiled about students, alumni, staff, faculty, space, budgets and other assets. IA uses surveys, observation, experiments, policy analysis and extensive records analysis to obtain data. They distribute standard and custom information in both paper and electronic formats.

Of course statistics are vital to decision-making about the university. IA Director Lou McClelland explained, "Institutional research helps administrators and policy-makers understand how the university works and make decisions based on evidence."

Information is used for federal, state, and internal reporting, collected by college-guide publishers, exchanged with other AAU and Big 12 institutions and available for external surveys, the press and internal inquiries. Greg Swenson of News Services said, "Often we need a statistic ten minutes ago, and they come through for us. We couldn't live without them."

With so much at stake, it's a huge responsibility. According McClelland, "In all our activities we aim for consistency, efficiency, effective delivery and relevance." Is there anything her office doesn't know? "I don't recall who wanted to know the birth order of each student," she said, "but that's one of the few pieces of information we just don't have."

More information than you will ever have time to absorb is available on the Institutional Analysis web site.

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