Wayne State University targets retention and graduation rates

September 1st, 2016

SAS Visual Analytics, Hadoop offers self-service access


Administrators and staff at Wayne State University are dedicated to helping students succeed. But accessing student-level data to guide their strategy was challenging. Pre-formatted online reports provided limited insight, and working through IT was time-consuming. To solve these issues and quickly create and share interactive reports, Wayne State uses SAS® Visual Analytics with Hadoop.

Located in Detroit, Wayne State serves more than 27,000 students. Using SAS Visual Analytics to dig into massive amounts of data stored in Hadoop, the university analyzes details on enrollment, demographics, classes, students and more. Among the dashboards the university creates are retention and graduation rates by different cohorts, admissions, peer comparisons and overall university enrollment. Administrators can see all these views on one screen and easily analyze variables.

In just five months using SAS, Wayne State was able to recreate and modernize 80 percent of its old, non-drillable reports (that previously had taken five years to create) into new interactive reports and dashboards.

“Previously, we would have to meet with IT, write a ticket, explain in detail what we need, and then lay out the variables,” says Mark Byrd, Assistant Vice President of Budget, Planning and Analysis at Wayne State. “The time savings alone with SAS makes an enormous difference. SAS advanced in-memory processing combined with Hadoop’s distributed storage allows us to access and analyze data quickly.”

Wayne State’s finance department is also using SAS to report general fund revenues and expenditures. Analysts can easily compare budget history and see how much they’re spending or budgeting for different areas.

“SAS paired with Hadoop’s distributed storage capabilities eliminates processing bottlenecks and provides everything need to get valuable insights from all our data,” said Adam Perkins, Senior Web Developer and Technical Analyst at Wayne State.

“Accessing and analyzing data should be simple for any company,” said Tapan Patel, SAS Global Marketing Manager. “Wayne State uses SAS Visual Analytics with Hadoop to spotlight and drill down into important information such as revenue, spending, admissions, student performance and more. Building interactive reports and dashboards allows them to analyze trends and make data-informed decisions.”

With four decades working with educational institutions, SAS analytics software is now used at more than 3,000 educational institutions worldwide for teaching, research and administration.

“Wayne State’s analytics strategy helps students succeed, while saving money,” said Emily Baranello, Vice President, SAS Education Practice. “This is the promise of analytics in higher education.”


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Material from a press release was used in this report.

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