IR Functions

The Office of Institutional Research primarily serves the central decision-making authorities of the University with respect to planning, evaluation, policy formation, accreditation, and other issues. The duties of the Office of Institutional Research include the collection, dissemination, and analysis of institutional data. The Office of Institutional Research uses and combines data from existing databases and gathers additional data as warranted to serve the information needs of the University and its administration.

A general list of these includes the following:

  • planning and decision support
  • regulatory reporting
  • non-regulatory reporting
  • research consortia
  • environmental scanning
  • surveys
  • data management

planning and decision support - Institutional Research (IR) provides descriptive and analytical data for operational decisions and university planning. Institutional Research is asked to provide data to senior administrators on subjects like administrative compensation, faculty salaries, enrollment trends, enrollment capacity, graduation and retention rates, and staffing ratios.

regulatory reporting - Agencies to which the institution reports on an annual basis include federal, state, and other controlling authorities, as well as SACS (the regional accrediting association), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), and the United Methodist Church Board of Ministry. A series of data collection instruments known collectively as the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) provide information to the federal government on enrollment, degrees awarded, graduation and retention, faculty, staff, libraries, and finances.

non-regulatory reporting - The university provides information to agencies and educational and professional associations that collect data from institutions across the nation. Comparative data is then provided to participating institutions. The identity of individual institutions may be masked. Some of the non-regulatory agencies that receive data include the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Council on Education (ACE), the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA), College Board, and the National Science Foundation.

research consortia - SMU is a member of the Colonial Group, a data exchange among Institutional Research offices of fourteen private, research universities. Universities of the Colonial Group exchange information periodically on topics of interest to the group.

environmental scanning - reveals trends in higher education and standard practices at other institutions. Institutional Research maintains information about a number of current issues in education including assessment, faculty tenure, and minority admissions.

surveys - collect data about faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Each year, the entering class of undergraduates is asked to complete a national survey of college freshmen known as the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey. The survey helps to document changing interests, attitudes, and backgrounds of first year students at SMU.

data management - This work is the foundation for nearly every component of institutional research. Files must be designed, modified, reconciled, and updated to provide answers to current and future questions. Since 1994, Institutional Research has established a series of census files on admissions, enrollment, faculty, financial aid, instruction, and retention.