Institutional Research & Decision Support

IRDS provides ongoing support for campus planning and decision-making to help advance the educational mission and effectiveness of the institution. Learn more


Assessment of IRDS's Services

Institutional Planning and Analysis administered an anonymous survey between February 3 and February 28, 2011 to 897 regular instructional and non-instructional employees to assess the quality of our services. Results from the survey, which had a 30% response rate, are available here

Data Warehouse / Decision-Support Update

In Fall 2010, the Data Warehouse Team successfully launched the first prototype data mart (Admissions) using both a dimensional model and a Cognos cube.  A demo of the prototype, using Cognos reporting tools (Report Studio and Analysis Studio), was presented first to the Admissions Office and the Provost/EVC and then to the Deans, VC Student Affairs, and AVC Enrollment Management. 
To validate the Team's overall approach and assess technical, design, and modeling capabilities, we engaged a review by IBM consultants in October 2010.  [IBM acquired Cognos in November 2007.]  This 5-day review covered the following objectives:

  • Validate the overall design approach, including its extensibility and sustainability, to confirm viability of future integration of dimensional models and cubes
  • Evaluate use of Cognos tools to be sure that they are put to optimal use in the design of the dimensional models and cubes and the underlying framework manager packages
  • Evaluate use of the Oracle ETL tool (OWB)
  • Confirm campus' choice of hardware and operating system platform for Cognos
  • Identify other products, staff skill sets and/or levels, alternative approaches, etc. that might significantly improve staff productivity and product delivery schedule.

IBM found that our current architectural configuration with Cognos was in line with proven best practice methodologies within the current development and production environments.  A data architecture review of both the ODS and data warehouse was recommended to insure standard data warehouse practices were in use.  Another recommendation was to utilize a commercial ETL tool, rather than using custom code (PS-SQL) to do all the ETL processes.  This would greatly reduce development time and improve sustainability and maintenance.  IBM also noted that the team use a more formal project management methodology and go forward with plans to create the Data Warehouse Steering Committee.

New Survey Tool

Institutional Planning and Analysis began using Qualtrics survey software ( for its institutional surveys during the 2011-12 academic year.  After a thorough review of options, Qualtrics was selected for use by IRDS due to its high quality and attractive interface and its full complement of analytical tools.  IRDS is utilizing the software to administer its annual surveys, such as the New Student Survey, Graduating Senior Survey, Graduate Student Survey, and 1-Year Alumni Survey.  Individual campus units are also collaborating with IRDS to complete surveys of specific populations using Qualtrics.  Contact IRDS ( for more information or to discuss a survey project.

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