Institutional Research and Assessment team photo

Executive Strategy and Planning was created just over two years ago by President Clark Gilbert. One of the charges of this group is to better manage the ever-growing amount of data collected at BYU-Idaho. If departments or offices on campus need data, Executive Strategy and Planning is the place to receive help. The university is fortunate to have skilled research and data professionals.

Former Managing Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Scott Bergstrom was replaced by Ben Fryar earlier this year. Fryar was leading the Online and Pathway Research organization, which merged with Institutional Research and Assessment as one team. In addition, a new Data and Analysis Services Department has been formed with Roy Sleight as director. This team reports through Aaron Sanns, managing director of Institutional Planning.

These areas are charged with centralizing institutional data and research. Dedicated resources have been established to serve campus departments, the online organization, and BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

“We are trying to keep the best of both worlds. We are centralizing under individual directors, but we are keeping people dedicated and embedded in individual organizations. That way we always have people who understand how a particular organization works and can also ensure that prioritized needs are met in a timely manner,” Sanns said.

“We had several goals in making these changes, the most important being to better coordinate data and research efforts across the university. With two research shops, there was too much duplication, too many inefficiencies, and too many surprises. It’s going to take some time, but I feel like these changes set us on a path to a much better place in the long run,” Fryar said.

Changes will be taking place over the coming months as new positions are filled, processes are refined, and infrastructure is developed to make for better access to data.

The newly organized areas ensure reports have been properly coordinated and vetted before they are presented. This helps to fill unforeseen holes, especially when that data may influence other campus organizations or outside entities.

Prioritizing and coordinating all the needs can be a big challenge.

“Our approach is to make visible the resources available to each area, and then those areas set their own priorities within the resource constraints. An exchange team has been set up, which looks across all projects to see where we need to address overlaps,” Fryar said.

These changes show promise for the future of data at BYU-Idaho as efficiencies are picked up, and as the university takes on a higher-level vision of consolidation and concentration.