In today’s higher education landscape, the collection, appreciation, and usage of data and analytics is not only necessary, it is essential. As our industry continues to adapt and change to new realities, this is even more true, as many institutions are facing new and recurring circumstances around enrollment management, student success, completion, infrastructure, and finance. These pressing priorities swirl into daily pain points that often collide with one another.

To tame the chaos, it is critical to use data to gain information needed for strategic decision-making and meaningful change. To do so, campuses must understand, utilize, and educate their communities on the use and integration of data and analytics for the greatest impact.

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Over the past two years, UNCF and Anthology have partnered to assist a cohort of HBCUs in strengthening their institutional data processes. One of the most impactful methods deployed by UNCF and Anthology is a data and analytics credential program. Here are four key lessons we have learned from our work with HBCUs that can be applied to all institutions.

1. Data governance structures are a necessity.
In order to effectively use data on campus, you need a plan. However, before that conversation can begin, processes and methods for managing institutional data must be established. To propel your campus forward, data governance should be used as a launching pad to build strong systems around data infrastructure, data stewardship, and data fluency. Institutions should create a fluent, cross-functional approach to identify what data exists, what data needs to exist, how data will exist, and who will be responsible for its existence.

About the Author:

DeShawn Preston, Ph.D., is a Research Associate, Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, UNCF.

Kelli Rainey, Ed.D., is Assistant Vice President for Campus Strategy, Anthology.