Austin Community College District Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Analytics Jenna Cullinane Hege served as the expert for How Continuing Ed Fits in with The Overarching Institution with The EvoLLLution.
The Continuing Education division shouldn’t be thought of as an entity that operates on its own. Instead, it should be embraced for the value, data and growth it brings to the institution. After all, as the name suggests, its mission is to help with continuing the journey of education, and that is what every school should be striving for.
The EvoLLLution (Evo): Why is data so valuable to a modern higher ed institution’s effective operation?
Jenna Cullinane Hege (JCH): Data is absolutely critical to a modern higher education institution. Big data is out in the world, and we have seen its benefits in our consumer interactions and the media. People are now accustomed to data insights and visualization throughout their life.
Modern higher education needs to be really sophisticated about where it invests human and financial capital to support students in an environment of limited resources. Data helps us think about how we are using our funding, what the best investments are and how to support as many students as possible, especially in community college education. We are aiming not only to provide an open-door policy but to bring as many students into our colleges, including low-income students, historically underrepresented students and minority students, to help them succeed as much as possible.
We need to be thoughtful about how we’re recruiting, who we’re recruiting, who we’re helping succeed and, increasingly, what kinds of supports are most effective for which populations of students. And even beyond that, how successful we are. Are many students completing? What kinds of awards are we helping to confer? What do our students do after they leave us? What are they gaining economically, socially? And what are the social benefits that extend beyond the individual?
Data is fundamental to all those areas.