dotEDU Episode 06: Big Data Goes to College


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired on September 30, 2019

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Lindsay Wayt, director of analytics for the National Association of College and University Business Officers​ (NACUBO), discusses how colleges and universities are using analytics to achieve the essential goals of a 21st century campus—building campuses that focus on student success, managing costs, improving efficiency, and more.

She also gives an overview of a new set of principles from NACUBO, the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), and EDUCAUSE designed to help higher education leaders tap into the power of analytics.

After chatting with Lindsay, hosts Jon Fansmith and Jon Turk talk about the future of the FUTURE Act, which must be passed by Sept. 30 to preserve a vital funding stream for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions.​​

Episode Notes

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

From the introduction

Post-interview chat on the FUTURE Act

Hosts and Guests
Lindsay Wayt - Director of Analytics, National Association of College and University Business Officers - Guest
Lindsay Wayt
Director of Analytics, National Association of College and University Business Officers

 Read this episode's transcript

Jon Fansmith [00:00:03] Hello again and welcome to dotEDU, a higher education podcast from the American Council on Education. I'm Jon Fansmith, host of dotEDU and I work in the government relations office here at ACE. My regular co-host Lorelle Espinosa can't join us today, so I am very excited, very, very excited, to be joined by my esteemed highly intellectual colleague Dr. Jon Turk. Hi Jon.

Jon Turk [00:00:30] Hey Jon. Can you believe they let me do this?

Jon Fansmith [00:00:33] I'm frankly shocked they let me do this. The fact that they would let two guys named Jon co-host a podcast.

Jon Turk [00:00:38] It seems crazy, right?

Jon Fansmith [00:00:39] It doesn't seem like a good idea, but here we are anyway. We are going to be joined a little bit later by Lindsay Wayt, who is the director of analytics at the National Association for College and University Business Officers. Lindsey is somebody we work with at ACE a lot. She is, as I like to say, a friend of ACE, and she's going to be talking to us about a statement that NACUBO recently put out with the Association for Institutional Research and EDUCAUSE, which is the association that represents campus IT and information officers. When we're done talking to Lindsey, we're going to have a little bit of discussion about what's going on in Washington that's of importance. But, before we bring Lindsey on, Jon, I understand you just spent a little time in Chicago?

Jon Turk [00:01:22] Yes, I just got back. I was there about a week ago. Had a great hotel right on the river. I had an opportunity to jump in and get my favorite deep-dish pizza.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:31] All right. What is your favorite deep-dish pizza?

Jon Turk [00:01:33] So, I'm a Lou Malnati's guy. Which, you know...Jon Fansmith [00:01:37] You're saying this...There's hesitation. There's this look on your face like this is a

Jon Turk [00:01:44] I don't...So, I don't think it's controversial, but as a Midwesterner and with a lot family from Chicago, we all have our favorites.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:50] This is a heated interfamily issue?

Jon Turk [00:01:52] It is a heated interfamily issue. I am kind of the stand-alone for Lou Malnati.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:58] So, you're the black sheep of the family?

Jon Turk [00:01:59] I am a little bit the black sheep. But, you know, doesn't matter. I love it. Had a good opportunity to have that.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:03] I am glad.

Jon Turk [00:02:04] But more importantly...

Jon Fansmith [00:02:06] More important than pizza.

Jon Turk [00:02:08] It is more important than pizza. I had great family relations. I had a great opportunity to speak with the Council for Opportunity and Education, so COE.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:16] Sure, great group.

Jon Turk [00:02:17] They were having their annual meeting, annual conference in Chicago. So this is a meeting of about 2,000 college access and student success professionals, a lot of which work with the TRiO programs--.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:28] The federal TRiO programs.

Jon Turk [00:02:30] So I was giving a presentation about our Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education report. So I was given an opportunity to really talk about data, about college access and affordability, really looking at some of the differential impact of how students pay for college and some of the loan burdens and some of those other points that affect students of color in particular. But, yeah, we had a really great conversation. It was a good meeting.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:59] Good pizza.

Jon Turk [00:03:00] Yeah. Good pizza.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:01] A chance to further alienate yourself from your family.

Jon Turk [00:03:02] Exactly. All that's there.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:04] Lots of great stuff all rolled into one. Excellent, excellent, Well, we're glad you're here and available to join us--unlike my co-host, Lorelle Espinosa. And I think, actually, what you're talking about in Chicago is a really nice segue to bringing Lindsay on because we're talking about how research impacts outcomes for students and how it can help inform practice and guide institutions. And that's exactly what Lindsey is here to talk with us about. So, we're gonna bring Lindsay on in just a second, right after the break.

Jon Turk [00:03:36] All right. So we're joined today by Lindsey Wayt from NACUBO. Lindsey, how are you doing?

Lindsay Wayt [00:03:41] I'm doing well. And I'd like to thank you for having me. It's great to be surrounded by Jons today. I've got Jon Turk and Jon Fansmith. Definitely excited to be back here at ACE.

Jon Turk [00:03:53] We're trying to make 'Turk' a thing. It's not always happening, but--.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:56] I really like it.

Jon Turk [00:03:58] That's fine.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:59] And if you say it really emphatically, "Turk!"

Jon Turk [00:04:01] Exactly.

Lindsay Wayt [00:04:02] Although, honestly, it is really easy just to be able to say Jon and then it doesn't matter which one of you I'm talking to. That'll make this podcast recording very easy.

Jon Fansmith [00:04:10] Easy for you.

Lindsay Wayt [00:04:10] Yes. Yes, definitely that was planned in advance so thank you.

Jon Turk [00:04:14] Well, thanks for joining us today. Why don't you start again by telling us a little bit more about what you do at NACUBO?

Lindsay Wayt [00:04:19] Well, yes, I'll start off by just talking a little bit more about what a NACUBO is. So, NACUBO, like ACE, is a higher education member association. So we have a little over 1,900 college and universities who are members of our organization and we work primarily with anybody who is in the business office. And that's everybody from the CBO to bursars to directors of student financial services. And so NACUBO really works on a wide range of topics and issues. And, like ACE, we have advocacy efforts, we offer professional development activities, and all of those would focus on areas of interest of really anybody in the business office and that's our primary role.

Jon Fansmith [00:05:02] And I'll just say, from the GR side we work with NACUBO all the time. You have a huge range of issues and we really appreciate the expertise you and your members have.

Lindsay Wayt [00:05:09] Yes, definitely on all those tax/accounting. Yes, a lot of those finance and government issues.

Jon Turk [00:05:14] I'm so glad we don't have to memorize the accounting standards. I'm really, really happy.

Jon Fansmith [00:05:17] I'm also very glad that Steven Bloom in our office manages those issues. It's good for everyone that I'm not doing it. 

Lindsay Wayt [00:05:24] And then a little bit about me and my role. So I actually don't work with tax or accounting or any of those numbers, those types of numbers directly. My role is actually a new position at NACUBO. So NACUBO recently adopted five new strategic priorities, one of which is to lead higher education's integration of analytics to achieve institutional strategic goals. You know, that's fancy strategic language speak for, "We really want to support our members in their use of data to make data-informed decisions on their campuses." And my role at NACUBO is to support them in doing so. And whether that's by doing research activities or designing professional development opportunities or collaborating with those other associations or with our business partners who do similar work, all of that is included in my job portfolio. So that's really what I do at NACUBO.

Jon Fansmith [00:06:14] And that's really interesting, too, because I think analytics in some ways is kind of like a buzzword, right. Whether you're talking about higher education or professional sports, analytics just sort of keeps coming up and for a lot of our audience who are college and university leaders, they may have the same understanding of analytics that I do which is that it's numbers. So I like that you talked a little bit about it's using data. Can you just maybe give a little bit more context for what analytics is and how to use on campuses?

Lindsay Wayt [00:06:46] Yeah, and I appreciated that you mentioned some of those non-higher ed examples too, like sports or the business world. I really do think when we think about all the advances in technology that we've seen, when we think about advances in software that can help with statistical analysis and all of that, we've seen a lot of advances that really have made big data prominent, not just in higher education but outside of higher education. But I really think when we think about the use of data in higher education, it should be a support for our leaders. Now that higher education has access to all of these tools and resources and ultimately the ability to analyze data and really think about, "How can I make good decisions?" They almost have an obligation to do so. So I get that analytics is kind of a buzzword, but it's also something that leaders can't really ignore. If they have access to it, I do think whether it's the president, the provost, the business officer, we really do need to start using the data that we have access to support our students and ultimately propel our mission on our campuses.

Jon Turk [00:07:50] So, recently NACUBO just released a new statement right in partnerships with EDUCAUSE and AIR. I think it was entitled was it, "Analytics Can Save Higher Education," but it has kind has a little bit more of a pithy kind of title, right?

Jon Fansmith [00:08:06] You're not trying to be too dramatic.

Jon Turk [00:08:07] Right. So just keep things very grounded.

Lindsay Wayt [00:08:10] Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely we weren't trying to seek attention at all with that title.

Jon Turk [00:08:15] So, tell us a little bit about it.

Lindsay Wayt [00:08:17] I think the title kind of does three things. One is this point that you're getting at, the phrasing "analytics can save higher education" really definitely is to grab attention. And when you look at the statement itself, it's short and a lot of it is written with that very similar tone. And that's because we realized that leaders in higher education, whether it's board members or presidents, they're not folks who have a lot of time to read in-depth white papers or another research report. And so the real goal of this statement was to be a call to action. So it had to be something that grabbed attention. It had to be something that appealed to leaders. I also think the title does two other things. When we talk about this idea of "saving" higher education, I mean that makes us wonder, "Well from what?" And so I think it starts to highlight a lot of the different challenges that leaders in higher education are facing today, whether that's changing student demographics or funding issues, you know, that's really what the title is alluding to. And the third important piece is the analytics piece and that's really just reminding leaders again that analytics is the tool that they as leaders can use to support their efforts in navigating all these challenges ultimately to support students.

Jon Turk [00:09:29] Gotcha. Gotcha. So I know you said the statement is short. Can you give us a quick overview of kind of what's in the statement?

Lindsay Wayt [00:09:34] Yeah, so generally the statement starts out with a call to action. So, just setting some context of what challenges is higher at facing today? Why do you need to start using data? So kind of just that call the action piece. And then we've identified six principles and if you go to, you can read them in their pithy language. I'm just going to kind of give my short take of what those six principles are. One is that leaders need to make a commitment to analytics, that while it's important to have folks on the front lines making decisions using data, ultimately a lot of this change will be led by senior leaders on campuses. The second one is that analytics is a collaborative effort on your campus that no one unit can do this alone. We can't just leave it to those who work in academic affairs or student affairs or the business office--it really is everybody. So merging all of our different data sets together to really make the best decisions for our campus. The third one is this idea that change management will be important. Things are going to go wrong along the way and leaders need to be prepared to address those challenges. The fourth one has to do with investment. We realize that when you're thinking analytics, I know the first thing that a lot of folks think about is the technology piece--.

Jon Fansmith [00:11:00] Or the math.

Lindsay Wayt [00:11:02] Well both of these come with some kind of investment, whether it's a monetary investment or an investment in staff who understand this math and all the statistics behind all these algorithms. But it's...You know that this effort isn't just an easy button that you can just click, that it really does call for leaders to start thinking about, "How can I invest in this? How do I make sure I build up my staff capabilities and my institution capabilities to actually make this change happen?".

Jon Fansmith [00:11:28] Especially if, as you're talking about, it's across the campus so in the leadership side, you know the president's office. It's every--[crosstalk]

Lindsay Wayt [00:11:35] It's not just in the president's office. You can't just hire one new special assistant or a person who focuses on this special topic. It really has to mean that you're investing in data literacy across the campus, that you're investing in the infrastructure to make all of this happen, that you're facilitating communication across campus. It really is a big undertaking. And so we realized that. The next principle is that analytics is something that means we need to start thinking about real people and that behind all these numbers are students or faculty or staff. And that really is all of the data that you're looking at, whether you're thinking about salary data or other HR data or enrollment data or student success data or grades and courses. There's real people behind all of these data. And so it's important that, as leaders start using data and analytics to make decisions, that you understand there're students behind all of these numbers, and that it's really important that you make sure you're thinking about data privacy and security, and that you're thinking about making sure you're making the best decisions for all students on your campus, and that you're thinking about issues like equity and success for everyone.

Jon Turk [00:12:49] I mean part of what makes...What I think about when I think about that one right there is, really it goes back to what you're talking about creating the proper team and really supporting and developing that team, because I think we are in this space where folks are increasingly thinking that, "Oh, I'll just go purchase X package. And this analytics package will just do whatever I need to." It's important that you have people that have that expertise and that understanding of how models are working, so that you can make sure that they are not introducing any additional bias or not disadvantaging...particular groups on campus.

Lindsay Wayt [00:13:20] Yeah, and that teamwork part I think is definitely important when it comes to ethics. Like those folks that you're involving are your IR folks. They are your faculty. They are your students' success staff. And so some of those individuals who are maybe more on the front line and understand who's behind all of these stories and I think that that's definitely important as well. I also think that that ties into the next principle which is really we're working to create a sense of urgency. This one is phrased in a statement as, "Tick tock, the time to act is now." And that really is...When we think about who's enrolling on our campuses right now, we do see students coming from more low-income backgrounds. We do see more students of color enrolling. We do see students who have traditionally been underserved by higher education coming at higher rates to our institutions. So those are the students behind all these numbers. And so we have to make sure we're treating these data with care. We also need to make sure we're using the data now, that these students are already enrolling, and we can't wait to act and start using data. And so I would say those are the big six principles that the three organizations were really trying to get across to readers of this statement.

Jon Fansmith [00:14:30] So, for presidents who are listening, and in some ways this is a call to action for presidents and their senior leadership teams to start incorporating analytics into every aspect. One of the things in the federal policy space we're very interested in, I'm personally very interested in, is the student success aspect and you just talked a little bit about growing numbers of low-income students, first generation students, and the urgency of addressing those needs and improving outcomes for the students. Maybe just talk a little bit more...maybe some specific examples of how the use of analytics has been incorporated across campuses and has helped particularly with those populations.

Lindsay Wayt [00:15:02] Yeah. And, if you don't mind, I'm going to take a step back because I want to say that the use of analytics really can permeate all aspects of what the institution is doing and ultimately things that we don't necessarily think of relating to student success really do. And so a couple years ago some staff at NACUBO did a series of focus groups with our members and asked them, "In what ways are you interested in using analytics on campus?" Or "How should analytics be used to support what your missions are really trying to do?" And then as you analyzed all the themes from what those folks were saying, all the responses really fell into three buckets. The biggest one was student success, but I'll also say that our members talked about the importance of using analytics for cost management, so thinking about resource allocation across the campus. And then the third bucket was facilities. And I think that really makes sense. Traditional campuses, they have a lot of buildings. They take up a lot of space. So, of course, business officers are concerned about that. Business officers are concerned about resource allocation. And of course they're concerned about making sure that their campuses are focused on the mission.

Jon Fansmith [00:16:08] And I'd say presidents are also very concerned about resource management/facilities. All those buildings that are not always in use that are large and expensive. Yeah. Everything like that.

Lindsay Wayt [00:16:21] Yeah, and I didn't mean to avoid your question which was really asking for examples.

Jon Fansmith [00:16:25] You did, but I'm glad that wasn't your intent.

Lindsay Wayt [00:16:27] Yeah yeah. No, no, I was eventually going to give you some examples. I just wanted to kind of set the context for...not all of my examples are going to focus most obviously on student success. So, one example that I have that kind of relates to this resource allocation piece is at Johnson County Community College. Johnson County Community College, like other institutions across the US, has started using activity-based costing. And I realized that in itself--.

Jon Fansmith [00:16:56] Can I just ask, where is Johnson County Community College?

Lindsay Wayt [00:16:57] It is in Kansas.

Jon Fansmith [00:16:59] OK.

Lindsay Wayt [00:16:59] Yes. And so they have been using activity-based costing I think for at least three years now, but they have also been doing some work to try to dive deeper and look at more data as they work to understand what does it really cost to have a particular class, like accounting 101, and not just the cost of the faculty that you're hiring to do that, but what's the overhead cost. How do we start understanding how we're using space? How do we make sure we're making the best decisions about delivery models for our students? And so one of the things that some of the data showed for them, and one particular example that some of their staff shared, was they were really trying to look was Accounting 1. How do we make sure that we are being the most efficient in delivering this course all of our students who need to take Accounting 1? And should we deliver that course online or is it more cost-efficient to do it face-to-face? And I know there's a lot of assumptions about, well if you're in a building and so you're spending on the faculty that...the energy costs and all of that are going to add up. And so is it going to be less expensive if we start doing all of this stuff online? And what's really the marginal difference about doing this online and all the technology costs and how many students we could enroll? And, ultimately, they were trying to decide which is better. And I think it's different based on classes, so I can't remember if accounting 101 ended up being more cost-effective face-to-face, I think that is actually what it worked out to be for that course, or if it was online and it's really different by course. But I really think this story shows that data can start letting you ask questions about how to allocate resources more efficiently on a more granular level when we think about course delivery, so the core function of what we're doing on campuses.

Jon Turk [00:18:52] I think that's a really important point, because I think what can sometimes get lost in all of these discussions is the idea that data and data analytics itself doesn't necessarily do anything, right? It's providing leaders with information that needs or helps them better understand what kinds of actions or interventions are needed.

Lindsay Wayt [00:19:09] Yeah. And I do think sometimes, especially when the business office gets involved and we're talking about things like resource allocation or understanding the cost of courses, that even some faculty will say that there's a sense of fear, that does this mean you're going to cut classes, does this mean you're gonna cut programs. And I do realize--.

Jon Fansmith [00:19:26] Or, in this example, move them online which may be a model they're uncomfortable with.

Lindsay Wayt [00:19:29] Yes, yes, it definitely has implications for faculty and they're not always okay with the changes. But I also think this idea of using data creates this sense of transparency and it allows our institutions the opportunity to share these data with faculty, with students, with other staff, so that they understand we're really doing this to serve students in the best way possible, which is focusing on efficiency, which is about maintaining quality as you're doing so, and you need the data to make sure that you're doing that.

Jon Turk [00:20:00] I mean, it really makes me think of the Georgia State example. And I mean, I think everyone around here and I'm sure...I mean anybody in higher education at this point has probably read at least one story about the work of Georgia State University around analytics and helping student success. But, for those of you who maybe are less familiar, so Georgia State University right now is about 34,000 students. It's located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. It's enrollment is a majority minority campus. It's about 40% African-American. So, about 10 or 15 years ago, their graduation rate was hovering right around about 30%. After approaching and looking at data and analytics and really rethinking a lot of their student advising and student support services on campus using that data as an informed base, their graduation right now is about 54%, so it's increased over 20 points in that period of time. And those leaders largely would tie that to their initial work in data analytics. It was taking a look at 10 year's worth of student record data to take a look at their grades, take a look at their experiences on campus to start understanding and better understanding what the potential indicators of "at risk" academically students. And so that all fed into what they now have: this very comprehensive advising model, advising technology that, in real time, I mean like every night, they're uploading grade information, other student attendance information, things like that into the system to be able to give academic advisors over 800 different indicators of potential early warning signs, I guess if you will, of students maybe needing to depart.

Lindsay Wayt [00:21:44] And I would add in addition to those 800 indicators that focus on all of these student success metrics and really allow the institution to focus on their targeted advertising, they also collect, I think, it's another 14 metrics on finance pieces of data. And those allow Georgia State as an institution to award emergency aid to students and that really has also increased their graduation rates as well and that saves students money, that saves the institution money. The more students that you can support and get to complete their degree, it also supports the institution ultimately in meeting their mission.

Jon Turk [00:22:20] So I think that it's a really interesting point about the micro grants. And it's another good example of Georgia State looked over their data and saw that they had a large number of students that were being dropped from the rolls for nonpayment for amounts that were as small as a couple hundred dollars here or there, and so that really helped this idea of emergency aid as a retention strategy. And I know some might think, "Well then how do I...I don't have the money for those kinds of micro grants." Well, that money occurs when you start retaining students longer and they're continuing to pay their bills and things like that.

Jon Fansmith [00:22:54] Yeah, and it's an interesting model too. And one of the things we've seen, particularly as HEA reauthorization continues to kind of drag on, is that that model has really permeated the federal policies, because there's a lot of interest in looking at either revising existing federal programs to provide emergency aid to students or creating new model programs around emergency aid because there is that understanding, especially from the federal policy side, which is less concerned with institutional revenue but much more concerned with student retention and completion particularly on time completion. So it's getting...and I should say Georgia State's president has testified at least twice that I've watched and I think maybe more than that before. So what they're doing at Georgia State is's not just in that sort of the higher ed sphere. It's really resonated here in Washington.

Jon Turk [00:23:41] I mean, like I said, the main thing for me and the big takeaway that I would really push is that data analytics helped identify these underlying problems and are helping to drive a solution, but are themselves not a solution. They could help get there. They realized that they needed to look at summer bridge programs and redesigning classroom experiences and things like that, but that those decisions, and the decisions to even look at that, really came about because they decided to take that deep dive look at their data.

Lindsay Wayt [00:24:08] I do think that data really allows leaders to be more honest with what's going on at their institutions and to have a better understanding about what's going on and also what areas we see where we can improve. You know, I'm thinking about another example of an institution. So Rutgers University in New Brunswick has a really interesting geography. The campus basically surrounds the city. It's a large university. And there was a lore going around on campus that you'll spend more time on buses than you do in the classroom. And so that institution was also able to use analytics to start looking at scheduling data, to start looking at the data from the buses and the bus system and how many students really are having to use public transportation or the university transportation to get from place to place and to try to get around their classes. And they saw that 80% of students were traveling every single day for class. And when they looked at their retention rates and their graduation rates and were putting all of that together with transportation issues, really saw we need to start looking at more of the patterns in our data and what can we do in terms of course delivery or how can we start thinking about flipped classrooms or how do we think about students scheduling differently and how do we also start looking at faculty schedule data and course schedules and really make a difference for our students. And what they've seen as they've started to use analytics for that problem is that they've been able to make some changes on their campus in terms of increasing the number of students that don't have to take the bus anymore. They've worked to develop student communication tools that allow students to make more informed decisions about how to set up their schedule as they're selecting classes. And they've been able to deliver some of their larger lecture courses in a way that ensures no travel for students. And so just looking at the data made it easier for leaders at Rutgers to make different decisions that ultimately supported students and propelled student success efforts on their campus.

Jon Fansmith [00:26:14] And that's such a great example, because it sort of unwinds from this very specific...I love that the lore is you'll will spend more time on buses than in classrooms. And then when you peel that back and all the different impacts it has, as you're talked about earlier across the campus in terms of scheduling, use of classrooms, and faculty obligations and that's a really great example.

Jon Turk [00:26:33] I think it really hits to that idea of designing student-centric universities, right? It's really thinking about all of the functions, all of the processes and policies that go on in a campus. Are they centered around student success?

Lindsay Wayt [00:26:45] Yes. Yes. And I also think...I'm thinking back to one of the comments that Jon Farnsmith made earlier about Georgia State really getting out there and telling their story about how they're using data and how it impacts student success. I think this story from Rutgers and this story from Georgia State, when we think about them together show a bigger lesson in terms of how to use analytics as well. And that's: institutions are unique like Rutgers and their transportation issue, but also institutions can learn quite a bit from each other, so, in terms of other institutions starting to use micro grants or thinking about enrollment and student success. And all of this ties back to the use of data, how do we understand what's different about our institutions and how do we learn from each other in ways that our institutions might be more similar to each other. And all of that ties back to data and understanding our own data and also understanding how our data compare to other institutions.

Jon Fansmith [00:27:44] I think that those are great points. In terms of actions or next steps, the statement is out. You're working with the other associations. Where do you take it from here? Obviously part of it is coming on a podcast like this and talking to institutional leaders, but other steps you're thinking about.

Lindsay Wayt [00:28:00] Yeah. So we have a couple other things on the horizon. So in October, October 10th actually, we will be hosting a Twitter chat and we're inviting institutions to participate, individuals to participate, other organizations to participate and we're really starting to talk about each of the six principles in more depth. So we're trying to facilitate more open discussion about how do we make all of this happen on campus and what challenges might we have, but also what successes and what are some examples that we see from other institutions for how they're making all of this work, because it's not an easy job. So the Twitter chat is one. So that's October 10th at 1:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m. if you're on the West Coast. And then another thing that we're working on is this idea of how do we learn from each other. So how do we learn from institutions like Georgia State or other institutions who are doing really great things with analytics. Because sometimes just getting started is difficult. So we're working to create some resources on the web site that show here's what's other campuses are doing, here're some challenges that they faced while they were doing it, and here's how they got started and maybe you can replicate some of these as well on your own campus.

Jon Fansmith [00:29:18] And these are specific case studies from named institutions? So you can actually look...That's great. That's great.

Jon Turk [00:29:25] Now that...that's cool. So we actually have some work in this area, too. And so one of our former colleagues, Jonathan Gagliardi, shout out to another John that used to be at ACE. He's at Lehman College now.

Jon Fansmith [00:29:36] We hire people who aren't named John, for the record.

Jon Turk [00:29:37] It is true. There are a greater portion of people here who are not John than there are John, but just trust us. So we put out a paper a little over a year ago now talking to some of these same kinds of groups about what we called the data-enabled executive and how data and data analytics really should be at the heart of informing institutional change and change management and so kind of talking through some case examples of how presidents and other senior leaders can use data to support students success in a variety of other topics on campus. We actually have a new paper that's going to be coming out in about a week or so now, it's called "Enabling Faculty-Led Student Success at Community Colleges." And so this is a commission paper that we have that's really a focus about how senior leaders, presidents, provosts, deans at community colleges can really involve their faculty and really empower their faculty to use data and data analytics to identify students success issues, bottlenecks in courses, registration issues, I mean all of the kinds of things that you can think about around student success, but really from this idea of culture change and really team leadership like how do you get faculty to buy in to working on these issues and getting involved.

Lindsay Wayt [00:30:49] That's going to be really important. I especially think faculty are the ones who are working with students day-to-day, so translating some of this work on analytics and making data-informed decisions is definitely going to be vital for them and so I look forward to reading this paper.

Jon Fansmith [00:31:04] And I hope everyone else does, too. You happen to know the authors. You know the author very well. So, before we say goodbye to you, Lindsay, I would be remiss if I didn't mention, which is probably clear to everyone listening, you have your own podcast which is why you're so much better at this than we are. And we appreciate your tolerance with our performance so far.

Lindsay Wayt [00:31:28] I would say actually, while you're mentioning the NACUBO in Brief podcast, I would just say we recently had Lorelle Espinosa who works here at ACE--.

Jon Fansmith [00:31:36] And is one of our co-hosts on our podcast!

Lindsay Wayt [00:31:38] Yes! So she was featured in one of our NACUBO in Brief episodes where she got to talk about the. Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education report and really talking about how data are critical to making decisions and being equity minded on campus and supporting all students. And so I definitely think there's work happening at a lot of places and in a lot of different areas that highlight the importance of data and how data really can support leaders.

Jon Fansmith [00:32:04] And my understanding is Lorelle will also be doing something else with NACUBO coming up?

Lindsay Wayt [00:32:09] Yeah, we continue to collaborate quite a bit. So Lorelle is going to be one of our general session speakers at NACUBO's integrating analytics forum, which will be this November 10th-12th in Orlando, Florida.

Jon Fansmith [00:32:21] Great. Well, Lindsey Wayt, thank you very much for joining us.

Lindsay Wayt [00:32:25] Thank you for having me.

Jon Fansmith [00:32:26] I started off by describing you as a friend of ACE, I think we've repeatedly demonstrated that throughout this podcast, but it's actually been a great joy having you on and talking with you.

Lindsay Wayt [00:32:35] Thank you.

Jon Fansmith [00:32:36] We're going to take a brief break and when we come back we're going to talk about the future of the FUTURE Act and other things happening in Congress.

Jon Fansmith [00:32:50] Well, welcome back. I think I personally, and I say this on pretty much every podcast we do but it really is true, I learned a lot from that conversation. Really appreciate Lindsey Wayt taking the time to come over and talk with us. Certainly brought in my horizons about analytics. It's apparently useful for more than just why no one shoots mid-range jumpers in the NBA anymore. So that's good to know. And of course I'm being a little sarcastic, but we really appreciate Lindsay taking the time and highlighting the efforts they're making at NACUBO, which again is a great organization that we work with all the time. There is a lot going on in the bigger higher ed world here in Washington. There's a lot going on generally in Washington.

Jon Turk [00:33:31] Just a little bit, right?

Jon Fansmith [00:33:32] It's been a little bit of news that, even if you're not paying that much attention, you heard about impeachment talks are in the air. That process is playing itself out or moving forward as we sit here today. Something else...A big deadline is passing for a program of key interest to higher education though and that is today's the last day, today, September 30th, for our listeners depending on when you listen to this for the expiration of funding for HBCUs, HSIs, and I should say is historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, tribal colleges universities, and other Minority Serving Institutions...There's a pool of funding that has been in place for over a decade now, $251 million dollars a year. It goes to those institutions to help them build and expand capacity in a range of areas.

Jon Turk [00:34:26] This is part of the Higher Education Act, right?

Jon Fansmith [00:34:28] So it's not. What's kind of interesting was it was provided through programs in the Higher Education Act, but the actual legislation that created it's been in a number of different pieces of legislation going back to the end of the Bush--George W. Bush administration and it's been renewed or extended. It's running out and it runs out today. What's really kind of interesting about this process is that the House passed a bill that would extend this funding for two more years. Sure. It's called The FUTURE Act. I never get the acronym right.

Jon Turk [00:35:04] Yeah, I mean but it's such a great acronym--[crosstalk].

Jon Fansmith [00:35:08] Right. The Future Act. And it passed the House under something called suspension of the rules, which is essentially a way of saying, "Look, everyone tends to think this is a good bill. Let's have a quick vote on it. We're going to move it quickly." It doesn't happen very often in a very partisan Congress.

Jon Turk [00:35:24] So, very uncontroversial, then.

Jon Fansmith [00:35:26] Very uncontroversial. So, the expectation was: impending deadline, uncontroversial vote in the House...The bill was fully offset. It extends its funding. It pays for it. The Senate would pick it up. They'd pass it. The president in particular has made a point of emphasis of supporting historically black colleges universities. HBCU Week was a couple of weeks ago. President spoke during that. So this seemed on a glide path to passage in resolving this problem.

Jon Turk [00:35:53] But!

Jon Fansmith [00:35:54] But, and it's an important but, it has run into headwaters in the Senate where Senator Lamar Alexander who chairs the Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the committee that oversees higher education policy and all education policy, has opposed bringing this bill to the floor for a vote because he would prefer to have a permanent fix for this program, not a two year patch but a permanent fix. So he is proposing introducing a bill that includes a permanent fix for that, which, again, something ACE supports, the institutions would love to see that.

Jon Turk [00:36:27] Sounds all right so far.

Jon Fansmith [00:36:28] Very good thing. The hook comes from the fact that he also wants to attach a bunch of pieces of legislation that have been offered as part of Higher Education Act reauthorization. Some of them are bipartisan or the original legislation was bipartisan, but the approach is not bipartisan. Senate Democrats have strong objections to trying to move these bills this way. They're particularly concerned about tying it to the funding for HBCUS and HSIs. And so as a result, twice now Senate Democrats have attempted to bring the FUTURE Act up for a vote. Senator Alexander has objected each time, kept it from moving forward. We are at a deadlock as I said at the start. The deadline is expiring today. The one positive at least is that institutions...The program's future funded. So for this coming academic year schools have the federal funds. There is some time to possibly work this out. But what we keep hearing from institutions and what we think is really important is no college president is going to build a program, continue a program on the assumption that--.

Jon Turk [00:37:37] Maybe they'll be lucky enough to get money?

Jon Fansmith [00:37:40] Especially when a deadline has come and gone and there has been no congressional action. So as we sit here, it's a very frustrating example of how partisan politics and disagreements over policy have a real downstream impact on institutions and particularly these institutions that...This is money specifically to provide resources for schools that don't have resources. STEM programs is one of the big uses of these funds. The underrepresentation of minority populations in STEM fields is a huge issue.

Jon Turk [00:38:12] That's a national concern.

Jon Fansmith [00:38:13] And this goes directly to that ratio. So we're seeing this funding being held up when it's easy. It's noncontroversial. It's bipartisan. It's a frustrating thing to watch and so ACE and a number of other associations or institutions are all reaching out to Congress encourage them to just get a vote. You can do the other things you want to do, a permanent fix down the road, but buy the time now, buy the certainty for institutions so that we don't lose this capacity. 

Jon Turk [00:38:39] So is there something we should be telling our members? Can our members be doing anything to help support this?

Jon Fansmith [00:38:43] Yeah, absolutely. And we've sent out on the President to President newsletter a couple times now, I believe, links to a campaign that helps you contact your own members of Congress, letting them know you support the FUTURE act, you want it brought forward for a vote. ACE itself has sent letters to the Senate. We've sent out social media contact. We've directly reached out to offices saying this is something we strongly support. It's straightforward. Bring up for vote pass it. Buy the time to address the other issues. This isn't a partisan issue. This is simply a good governance, fulfilling the obligations to these institutions that you've created. So that's what we're doing. We'd encourage our members to do that same sort of outreach if they haven't already.

Jon Turk [00:39:22] So tieing back to analytics here for a second. Do you have an over/under about the probability that they will actually get passed in time with a deadline? Like what sort of...What are the tea leaves?

Jon Fansmith [00:39:33] I would say I am not known for my strong sense of optimism. So people should always grade these a little bit...It's not looking great. I think there's...It's now gotten tied up in some of the bigger issues around HEA reauthorization. And it really rests with either the leadership in the Senate changing or overruling Senator Alexander, Senator Alexander changing his mind. And he's a pretty steadfast man of his principle, so I don't know that that's going to happen anytime soon. Again, it's frustrating, but all we can do is keep trying.

Jon Turk [00:40:06] Yeah, it really emphasizes the importance of having our members in the higher education community really reaching out to them. We can't wait on this.

Jon Fansmith [00:40:14] Absolutely. That's exactly right. All right. Well, I want to thank everyone for listening to us. I think, again, this has been a really great podcast. I'm always delighted to be joined by Jon Turk. You can find his picture below the fold on our Web page as well as links to all the resources Lindsay and Jon mentioned respectively show notes, other information about the podcast, and our guest. That web page is and you can subscribe to this podcast and listen to it on Apple podcast, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. In addition, please feel free to email us at to offer feedback or suggestions for future episodes, maybe nominate yourself as a future guest. If you're lucky, you'll get the dual Jon pairing. That's always a highlight. Makes it easier if you just have to say Jon as Lindsay pointed out. Anyway, thanks again for listening. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And we'll be coming to you in the future. ​

About the Podcast

​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page​.​

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