Manage data more effectively
- Gain a better understanding of students throughout their lifecycle
- Extend the functionality of investments across the ecosystem
- Achieve stability in planning
We're looking to manage data more effectively. The conversation around that is helping us all understand the value that an enterprise approach has compared to, say, pockets of excellence. Having an enterprise approach really helps us better understand our students, from the point in time that we contact them or engage them to become potential students to the time that they graduate and become alumni.
Ethos has a data model that speaks specifically to higher education. And when I say "data model," what I mean is, it puts things in proper form for us to be able to gain insights into the work that we're doing and the impact of the work that we're doing. And it also allows us to think about how we might extend the functionality of the investments that we've had with the ecosystem of other vendors who provide related services that are important to the university.
And when we think about those interfaces, we think about the workflow of things that connect those transactions together. And Ethos gives us the ability to thread those things together more consistently, more easily, and in a fashion that really meets the business objective versus the IT delivery of that business need.
Our partnership with Ellucian is important in reaching our goals, because it really is the driving technology and the storage of all of the information that defines who Kent State is. And in talking with the executives from Ellucian and understanding the roadmap that's been set for the Ellucian platform, it gives us an opportunity to also set a strategic roadmap of how we want to do business at Kent State. It gives us stability in our planning, and it gives us a solid partner who is listening to the needs that we have and responding to those needs.
Developing an enterprise approach to data management
Kent State University invests in Ellucian Ethos to meet its business objective.
Implement an IT governance policy to help guide decision-making and technology priorities
- Enhanced collaboration across the institution
- Increased transparency into the decision-making process
- Better focus on priorities that support the institution
As Brookdale Community College was in the midst of outlining an ambitious IT strategic plan, the institution began to examine the options for implementing a technology governance model to effectively guide priorities, decision making, and technology investments. The purpose of the governance model was to, in effect, create a level playing field for the adoption of technology, solutions, and approaches. “We wanted to establish a decision-making process that allowed us to prioritize key projects, ensure that our technology resources were being used to its fullest potential, and support the institution’s goals and objectives,” says George Sotirion, chief information officer at Brookdale.
The institution’s leadership recognized that a strong IT governance policy would not only bolster the college’s mission, but also inform campus constituents into why certain technology solutions may or may not be implemented. “We wanted to clear away the clouds and identify the technology that was most important,” says Brookdale Community College President David Stout. “The plan would help us map expectations to our strategic plan so that we could rank projects accordingly.”
“Sometimes the college community wasn't aware of exactly why certain decisions were being made, and if they were putting forth ideas, why those ideas weren't being adopted, causing a level of friction and disengagement,” says Sotirion. “So really, it all had to do with transparency.”
Charting the right path with IT governance
Implementing a governance model guides priorities and provides transparency
Integrate data to save on HVAC and labor costs
- Increased efficiency for staff
- Savings of approximately $20,000 in electricity
- Improved comfort for faculty and students
There are innumerable ways to save money across campus. But Kirkwood Community College has developed an effective way to save on energy costs: Integrate data from its ERP with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
By integrating the ERP with the HVAC system, the institution was able to automate its upload to the HVAC system and saved $260,000 in personnel time and shaved $20,000 off of its nearly $500,000 annual electricity bill at the main campus.
Prior to integrating the HVAC system with the ERP, department offices had to manually input section schedules into the HVAC management system—a labor-intensive and tedious process. “The interface from the HVAC management company was very poor, it couldn’t upload, drag and drop, or copy large sections,” says Jon Neff, vice president of IT at Kirkwood Community College. “We had an opportunity to eliminate this drudgery and improve accuracy, so we worked with Facilities and Academic Affairs teams to better integrate the HVAC with Colleague.”
A cool (or warm) approach to integrating data
Bridging IT and facilities management through technology saves money and time
Increase enrollment by targeting best-fit students, while also improving the student experience
- Improved results from recruiting efforts
- More accurate data about prospective students
- Increased efficiency through improved processes
Pacific University is a private institution located in Forest Grove, Oregon, with additional campuses in Eugene, Hillsboro, Woodburn, and Portland. The university serves about 3,500 students, offering both graduate and undergraduate degrees, and is consistently named among the top regional institutions in the West.
After experiencing an influx of students upon reinstating its football program, Pacific University saw a significant financial bump from the increased enrollment. Since the institution relies heavily on tuition, the administration then concluded that it would be financially prudent to redouble its efforts in recruiting and retention, to carry that success forward into the next decade.
To achieve that goal, Pacific University began the process of implementing Ellucian CRM Recruit. “We learned about Ellucian CRM Recruit at one of our user conferences,” says the former manager of administrative services, admissions. “We came back and told our director about it. We were really excited. After years of trying to use Ellucian Colleague® for recruitment, this was a good opportunity for us to get a recruitment-centric system of our own while still having that integration with Colleague for the rest of the campus.”
Increasing enrollment—and staying ahead of the competition
Targeting best-fit students and increasing efficiency
- Cleared backlog of approximately 4,500 exceptions
- Standardized and automated complex manual exception processes
- Improved student service with timely feedback
We wanted actionable data, so we started looking into our data and how can we report on it properly, correctly. And everyone would get the same number.
Why we chose Ellucian Analytics was four reasons. One is we wanted to leverage our known and our deep expertise in Banner. Also, it had to do with how easily could we springboard our activities to create these dashboards and reports more easily without having to recreate them in another tool? If they came out of the box, it's a large number of them that we could leverage from day one, largely. That was a huge selling point.
Also, we liked the idea of dipping our toe into a data lake. Our current practice is using EDW and ODS. Those are differently structured. And we thought, that's an aspirational state. So we need to be able to get there. How can we do that? Ellucian Analytics.
And I would say the fourth reason was, we liked to leverage Tableau. There was light development of Tableau on campus. So we thought, how could we leverage that? Would that help our users to be more likely to adopt and overcome some of that change resistance?
The provost office is leveraging it heavily from a student retention perspective, but also, they're very much using it for answering the questions of how well utilized are our classrooms, our spaces? Could I get more classes? Can I take down an entire building in terms of HVAC and electricity by intelligently, strategically using our data to make informed decisions about which classrooms we can move into one building or another?
Also, looking at faculty load, we have an over-reliance on part time faculty or adjunct faculty. Given the changing landscape, how can we better leverage our subject matter experts, which our faculty are, tenure track, how can we leverage them to teach other classes? So looking at load to be fair and the ability to really dig deep.
We can leverage Ellucian Analytics to have a single pane of glass into our data so that we can look at all of our data at once as it relates to how we want to leverage it to ask our questions and get them answered. It also helps for us to move forward to be a true data-centric or data-driven institution. We need to look at data as a strategic institutional asset and treat it as such.
Viewing our data through a single pane of glass
University of La Verne leverages Ellucian Analytics to improve decision making
- Improved data quality, security, and governance
- Streamlined institutional processes
- Better and more accurate insights into institutional data
With a focus on delivering a world-class educational experience, the University of La Verne recently began exploring new solutions that would allow it to gain an informed view into the university’s operations—and transform those insights into student success. “The student, for us, is the nexus of our reality,” says Dr. Todd Britton, chief information officer and associate vice president at the University of La Verne. “Everything we do is about our students. That also means that's where the preponderance of our data issues are.”
And like most institutions, La Verne was awash in data—from student records to faculty information—spread across multiple systems and databases. The university had, for a number of years, attempted to wrangle its data via reports generated through various database solutions. However, the university found that the information gleaned didn’t provide the kind of deep-insight it required. “We were looking to improve on what we were getting and hoping to truly focus on both tactical risk reports and more predictive and prescriptive types of analytic reports,” says Britton.
The university turned to Ellucian Analytics to help it make sense of institutional data—and use it to drive positive outcomes for the entire La Verne community.
Transforming data into an institutional asset
How analytics—and sound data governance—lead to institutional insights
- Publish and subscribe model for real time data
- Controlled access to information
- Streamlined cloud migration
If your mission is to be innovative and move into a cloud atmosphere of technology, you have a really nice available product from Ellucian called Ethos that gets you that really first big boost into being able to make your presence in the cloud environment work.
And that's really what it is. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can start with Ethos. You can have the data model, the publish and subscribe, and the request response resources right in one package that's available for that university or for that school wanting to move into that space.
Ethos includes field level security which protects sensitive data through controlled access
We brought on a new security team and had a pretty thorough conversation with Ellucian about how Ethos worked and how their data was being protected. And at the end of the day, the assessment came back as pretty low risk in that we're being well taken care of.
And they looked at everything. They looked at how it was running through their cloud environment, how that PII data is moving through the Ethos system, and how those APIs are being exposed.
And one of the big benefits that they saw is we do have to push personal data through Ethos, but we have something called field level security. So any user that's coming in asking Ethos for something or sending out, we can say “no,” you're not going to send your social security number or birth date.
And so we can really have that control, that micro control over who gets what data at what time. Ethos is on AWS. That was a big seller as well.
Innovating together for the future
We've innovated together. So not only did we find problems here and there, we also found opportunities to move forward. And I think it's been a really great partnership.
Universal data model streamlines move to cloud
Southern New Hampshire University invests in Ellucian Ethos to drive innovation
- Streamline system integrations
- Real-time data updates
- Personalized student advising
As we started to purchase new software systems and more sophisticated software systems, and connecting those systems together, we were actually running out of hours in the day. Because how we were doing it was we were taking flat files, and picking them up, and shifting them over. Those flat files take time to generate and to run. And by the time you were done moving all of the data, you have run out of your 24 hours.
So we knew in order to be more innovative, we had to be more creative in our integration space and deliver data more real-time. When you have a change in one system, it will reflect throughout all of your systems. And it makes for a better student experience, a better staff and faculty experience, and for better and stronger decision-making.
Ethos decouples data from software
We learned about Ethos probably two or three years ago, maybe longer. And we learned about the pub-sub model, and we learned about the data model. And the data model is what probably was the most attractive piece. So effectively, what this allows you to do is decouple data from software. And once you can decouple data from software, that means you've opened up a whole world of possibilities to be able to lift, and shift, and move various elements of that data around, regardless of what that software system is.
The financial benefits of integration
I no longer have to build an integration for first name, last name, address every time we bring in a new piece of software. It's done. Now, I just have to connect it. And that's really, for my team, on the small and the micro scale, is where we're going to see the financial benefit.
On the bigger scale, when you have real-time integrations, the financial benefit you're going to see is in retention, right? So if we can get to those students faster with the right data at the right time, we can save them for leaving or help them through any struggles that they have by being able to alert the advisors from no matter where that problem is happening throughout the system, whether it's a bill is late, or if there's an issue with grades, or they missed a class, or haven't logged into their LMS system. That all goes to the advisor. It's that personal touch. That advisor calls the student to say, “Is everything OK? How can we help you?” And that's really where we are going to see the value of that retention.
Integrating systems to increase retention
Southern New Hampshire University invests in Ellucian Ethos to personalize advising
- Streamline system integrations
- Real-time data updates
- Personalized student advising
The bus does two basic things. At its very core, it does two very simple things. The first one is a publish and subscribe methodology. So anybody who is interested in any kind of data, so name for example, we publish our changes anytime that name changes. This is how we get to that real-time experience. Anytime that name changes, it publishes out a change notification, and any other software system that is interested in name will get that information almost instantly. That's the first mechanism of what the bus does.
The other is your basic request-response. So if you want to ask a question, you ask the question to the SNHU bus. If the question is, “How many people got an A last term?” you ask the bus, and the bus will go and collect that information and deliver it back to you, whether that's coming from your SIS system or your learning management system.
It really started with discovering Ethos. We've basically wrapped MuleSoft around Ethos, creating a universe of these APIs. Now we can build any connector that we want. And it uses basically a proxy, using MuleSoft as a proxy, to talk to Ethos.
And so if you have everything that runs through Mule, and the connections are all coming into Ethos, then whatever you bolt up onto the sides of it, you don't have to reprogram. You're reusing all of that stuff on the inside. And Ethos is just doing its job.
Real-time data improves CRM interactions
One of the really nice benefits of putting Ethos, MuleSoft, and the SNHU bus together is really that real-time reaction. So an advisor can now contact a student if they get a failing grade, and they're going to know that within a very short period of time. There are all kinds of benefits around that.
Before we put this system in place, once you clicked your application, it would take your 15-20 minutes before that would even get in front of an advisor, or it would be put on a spreadsheet, and you'd see it the next day. Now, from the time that you say yep, I think I'm interested in SNHU, within six seconds, an advisor can call you and start to talk to you about your options at SNHU. So it's those kind of things that we're shooting for to build value to get the right data to the right people at the right time.
Real-time data improves admission and advising experience
Southern New Hampshire University partners with Ellucian and Mulesoft to create campus wide integration
How your institution can leverage data insights to understand and improve DEI initiatives
A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is vital in higher education today. DEI impacts every corner of campus, and many colleges and universities have DEI initiatives with focuses varying from faculty hiring and retention to student outcomes. Measuring the success of these initiatives, as well as understanding where your institution might improve, can be difficult. However, the right data analytics can offer actionable insights that help you examine and power your DEI efforts. Read on for a few areas of data you might be overlooking when talking about DEI at your institution.
Recruitment and retention
Studies have shown that a focus on DEI in faculty recruitment can impact student outcomes, and that a diverse workforce makes organizations more effective. Ensuring that you’re recruiting and hiring diverse employees is an important first step, but how can you pinpoint where to concentrate your efforts? That’s where the data comes in.
Look at the data
To launch a DEI hiring initiative, the first step is analyzing the available data to understand where your hiring process is breaking down. For instance, if you’re struggling hire more women into the STEM departments at your institution, you might examine the applicant pool. If you’re not attracting any female candidates, you know to concentrate your efforts on sharing the role more widely, or potentially re-writing the position description to remove gender bias. Parse through geographic data about applicants to see which advertising efforts were most successful, and even examine your application process itself—are there points where candidates drop out? How could you rethink those processes?
Examine diversity breakdowns
If your applicant pool is split evenly between men and women, but the women aren’t being hired, you’re facing a different challenge and might consider solutions like blind resume review to remove gender bias during that step of the process. Teams should also be sure to drill down into the specifics, rather than just looking at overall numbers about gender equity or racial diversity. Examine diversity breakdowns by department, college, or role type for a holistic understanding of which parts of your institution need the most support in achieving DEI goals.
Identify retention opportunities
The data can also help you go a layer deeper . Varying departments might be hiring a diverse group of employees, but that won’t make a difference if those employees aren’t staying. Data analytics can reveal pay gaps, employee engagement metrics, and retention information, helping you identify and compare where your DEI strategies are falling short or succeeding.
Faculty and the tenure process
The tenure process at HigherEd higher education institutions is a prominent discussion today. Many articles in this collection by the Chronicle speak about gender and racial inequities and discuss the barriers faced by women and minorities in the tenure process. To know understand what steps your institution could take to build a more equitable tenure process, you must first examine the data to identify if there’s a problem to be solved.
With insights into faculty workload, including research, teaching, and service burdens, you can identify potential bias in service hours or see where faculty might be falling behind on their research hours—and consider extending the tenure clock in some circumstances. The right analytics can tell you if certain tenure and promotion cases take more time to review—perhaps unnecessarily—or if there are departments that have failed to promote qualified candidates. These metrics can help drive strategic decisions about things like implementing anti-bias training or changing an institutional policy about service hours. A digitized faculty platform can help deans and faculty manage and analyze the data and pull out the necessary insights easily.
Retaining and engaging the right students
Just as recruitment isn’t the only challenge faced when building a diverse faculty and staff body, recruiting a diverse student body is only the first step. Retention and engagement for are key to DEI efforts for students at your institution. So how can you harness data to make sure you are offering the right support at the right time and supporting positive student outcomes?
Measuring attrition and student performance in real time—throughout a semester-long class instead of at the end—can help professors offer personalized support to students who are struggling. Such data can also prompt a re-evaluation of the course’s instructional design based on the current needs of students.
Other teams can make use of student data. Advisors can dive deep into student engagement metrics across campus to look for warning signs of a student who is at risk of dropping out or failing and offer resources. They might also discover a student missing a key course that would prevent them from graduating. Most undergraduate students don’t finish their degree in four years, and sometimes the reasons are as simple as a few missing credits or an unpaid overdue fine from the library.
Examining this data, and understanding the support services that can be beneficial for at-risk students, students on financial aid, or first-generation students, can help your institution improve student outcomes with data-backed strategies.
Powering your institution with data across your campus
Often, departments, schools, or teams working across a university might view themselves as independent groups with unique problems. It is true that some challenges are not university-wide, but when your data is connected and analyzed across campus, those insights can reveal shared challenges and help teams come up with solutions that can have cross-campus impact.
A data analytics strategy at your institution can make a difference on every corner of your campus, and now is the time to start building a culture based on analytics and data-informed decisions. Your data tells a story, and you can get your leadership on board if you can get truly actionable insights from the information that your campus already has.
A joint statement about data analytics strategies by the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), EDUCAUSE, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) says, “The time to act is now.” It’s important to have an analytics tool that provides real-time insight, integrates with your other systems, and allows you to drill down or see the bigger picture. Don’t wait to build a data analytics strategy—dive in today.
This post was written by Ellie Smith of PeopleAdmin, an innovative platform offering solutions for talent management, academic affairs, faculty, and student outcomes. Learn more about PeopleAdmin.