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Former UIT intern bolsters partnership between BI & Student Affairs

By Jesse Drake

L-R: Stacy Ackerlind, director of the Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (Student Affairs); Dane Luby, AER business systems analyst; and Tom Howa, associate director of UIT Business Intelligence.

L-R: Dr. Stacy Ackerlind, director of the Office of Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (Student Affairs); Dane Luby, AER business systems analyst; and Tom Howa, associate director of UIT Business Intelligence.

Dane Luby, three-year intern with UIT's Business Intelligence (BI) group, has been hired on as a business systems analyst with the Office of Assessment, Evaluation & Research (AER) in Student Affairs.

Luby represents a bourgeoning partnership between the two organizations, which Stacy Ackerlind, AER director and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs, characterizes as "collaborative and respectful."

"What makes it particularly fun is learning from each other," Ackerlind said. "We bring different expertise to the table, and this helps both groups deepen their knowledge and better serve the needs of the institution. ... Assessment is not only about data, but using data to improve programs and services, as well as the student experience."

Tom Howa, associate director of the BI team, said that creating a career path has long been a fixture in UIT's student internship program.

"It's great to be able to cultivate talent among our interns, so that they're trained right out of the gate to transition into an entry-level position," Howa said. "Every single intern we've ever had has ended up in a great job. I can't think of many places where you can obtain so much experience with [software programs] SQL, Tableau, and SAP."

"The flexibility and work environment here has been great," added Luby, who holds a bachelor's degree in Information Systems, which he earned while a BI intern beginning in 2015, graduating in spring 2018.

Working with AER Associate Director Elizabeth Duszak, Luby helped develop a series of dashboards which allow Student Affairs to track metrics around post-graduation plans, such as continuing education versus anticipated workplace location, organization, salary, etc. Data is collected via the First Destination Form that students receive during their final semester and then again 3-6 months after graduation. Additional information is gathered through calling campaigns, social media mining, and other data collection initiatives.

"The sophistication of what we can provide continues to progress," Ackerlind said. "It's a great example of maximizing our resources and expertise to develop a strategy to serve the university more holistically."

Ackerlind further lauded Duszak's and Luby's work on utilization reporting, which helps departments track who's using their services and programs, and strengthens outreach efforts.

"The BI process associated with this project allows us to analyze this data using a machine learning-based approach, which adds an important dimension to the assessment process," Ackerlind said.

BI and AER's partnership grew out of a desire to streamline processes that support Student Affairs, including Enrollment Management's operational data needs. University Registrar Tim Ebner, who chairs the Student Data Warehouse Management Team, had encouraged Ackerlind to get involved in the BI Community of Practice.

One of AER's roles is conducting large-scale surveys and sharing response data with various campus stakeholders. Prior to working with the BI team, Ackerlind's group faced a time-consuming process of cleaning and preparing data for static reports, but with tools like Tableau, AER is able to improve its reporting process, and give clients greater access to data with fewer errors.

"We started meeting regularly with Tom's team, so both teams could understand each other’s roles," she said. "It has been an amazing partnership, as I feel like both groups learn from each other, and that helps all of us do our jobs better."

Last Updated: 3/27/19