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Faculty and Staff

Five Questions with Margery Overton and Institutional Strategy and Analysis

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In February, NC State released the Wolfpack 2030: Powering the Extraordinary strategic plan metrics and dashboard. Institutional Strategy and Analysis (ISA) developed and maintains each of the 56 charts in the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard using institutional data, sometimes working in close collaboration with partners like the Office of Research and Innovation or University Advancement. We caught up with Margery Overton, senior vice provost for Institutional Strategy and Analysis, to learn more about ISA, the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard and ISA’s initiatives in the FY22-24 implementation plan

Margery Overton
Dr. Margery Overton

In addition to producing the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard, what other key functions does ISA perform?

ISA is the university’s authoritative source for institutional reporting and analytics. Throughout each year, the university is required to report a wide range of institutional data and information at both the state and federal levels. ISA analysts work with many partners across the university and the UNC System Office to ensure that NC State submits timely, consistent and reliable information. They do the same for voluntary initiatives in which NC State participates, such as international and domestic university rankings.

The ISA survey team administers numerous recurring institutional and national surveys to NC State faculty, staff, students and alumni. They assist individuals on campus who want to survey a university population according to the university’s survey regulation. The team also manages and provides support for the university’s Qualtrics account.

ISA analysts create and maintain dashboards that faculty and staff can use to access much of the same information reported to federal and state sources and collected in surveys. Our analysts also use institutional data to create special reports as needed or requested throughout the year by senior leaders, academic administrators, and staff.

Our staff have other responsibilities related to the university’s strategic plan in addition to producing and maintaining the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard. ISA staff work in close cooperation with the Provost’s Office and the university’s senior leadership to manage the strategic planning process, develop implementation plans, and identify and pursue activities and resources needed to facilitate successful implementation. 

ISA supports ClassEval and the Academic Program Assessment application. We also serve as NC State’s central resource for other tools that collect and manage data and information, like Qualtrics and Faculty Success.

Finally, ISA is building capacity to support critical, collaborative data governance efforts at NC State. Data governance is essential to ensure data quality and consistency campuswide. 

What can visitors to the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard expect to find there?

Visitors will find the Wolfpack 2030 metrics organized by the strategic plan’s seven goals. Those who are familiar with NC State’s previous strategic plan, Pathway to the Future, will notice some key metrics that carried over to the new plan such as metrics for student success, research and innovation, and philanthropic support and engagement.

Visitors will also find new metrics that reflect new goals and directions. For example, Wolfpack 2030 metrics include additions to survey questions, advancement metrics and staff demographics. 

Each metric has a base year, and many metrics have a target set for 2030. Targets were established in partnership with senior leaders by evaluating NC State’s past performance, peer performance and related research. Targets also factored in major planned initiatives like Engineering Expansion, which will significantly affect projections related to student enrollment and completions.

How are ISA’s other dashboards related to the Wolfpack 2030 metrics dashboard?

ISA analysts work to ensure that consistent, reliable information is reported to the university community in all of our dashboards.

The Wolfpack 2030 metrics are high-level aggregated views of institutional data, while other ISA dashboards are built to allow users to explore institutional data and survey results in greater detail. 

Links to ISA dashboards for enrollment, student credit hours, degrees and certificates, graduation and retention, and faculty and staff data are located to the left of the charts on the Factbook webpage. Shibboleth login is required to access them. Faculty and staff can explore trends by college or unit, by student degree level, or by employee type, for example.

The same is true of the dashboards for annual, biennial and triennial surveys like the Incoming Transfer Student Survey, Undergraduate and Graduate Future Plans Survey, COACHE Faculty Survey and Employee Engagement Survey. For each survey, we provide a dashboard for each year the survey is administered as well as one for trends over time.

How is ISA contributing to NC State’s strategic goal of transforming operations?

In Goal 5, NC State recognizes institutional data as a business asset to be managed, protected and leveraged. ISA is leading or supporting several highly collaborative initiatives that will strengthen the foundation required to make data-enabled decision-making the norm at NC State. 

For example, the university is developing a coordinated data governance program to help NC State ensure that valuable data are accurate, consistent, understandable, accessible and used appropriately. Through a data governance program, the university establishes decision rights, responsibilities and processes for how institutional data are managed and used.   

Staff and administrators also need a shared language and understanding of institutional data in order to use it consistently and appropriately. We are working to develop a data catalog that will promote such shared understandings. The catalog will directly integrate with dashboards and provide dashboard users with important notes, definitions and information so that they can better understand, interpret and use the dashboard. Catalog users will also be able to learn whether and how dashboards and reports that use institutional data are accessible and view documentation about them. 

Information in the catalog will also position analysts and developers who create dashboards and reports at NC State to be more consistent in their sources and methodologies.  

What else should the NC State community know about ISA?

ISA maintains a contact form for NC State employees or students who need data or consultation. 

It’s great to see institutional data from ISA dashboards leveraged and cited in presentations across the university. To help foster inclusion of our dashboard information in work across campus, ISA provides a citation format in each of our dashboards. Find them in the “Data Source” section of the dashboard.

Finally, data and information will become even more central to decision-making at NC State in the future, and the ISA team is growing to support that direction. We look forward to envisioning new ways to serve the university community.

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