If you think that UMBC only looks at students’ academic performance during the admissions application process, think again. Throughout a student’s enrollment, the university captures and stores pertinent data and regularly uses it to answer questions about student academic and resource needs, as well as curriculum and program changes. In addition to overseeing Undergraduate Admissions, Yvette Mozie-Ross, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, is also in charge of financial aid and scholarships, academic advising, the Registrar’s Office, and Student Administration projects. “Basically, my staff and I facilitate students’ enrollment from recruitment to graduation,” Mozie-Ross explains. An essential part of keeping up with those processes is storing and reviewing student data.
Prior to the introduction of PeopleSoft and REX, accessing student data was very difficult. “There was a time when our IT manager was always joined at my hip,” Mozie-Ross laughs. “The data was there in the legacy system, but I couldn’t access it.” Any time there was a question involving data, such as how many students from a particular geographic region graduated in the past year or which students are enrolling in high demand service courses, an IT staff member would need to write a query to find that information in the system. In 2007, the REX data warehouse was finally implemented and by 2009, the university had started to use PeopleSoft. “We were excited about the prospects to come,” Mozie-Ross says of the transition. “While some institutions had other options and as a result, may not have been as successful with the implementation of this tool, here, there was much anticipation and excitement because we hadn’t had anything like it before.”
Now, REX has become an integral part of the functions of Enrollment Management. There are a range of staff members using the system in the various offices, including counselors/advisors, assistant/associate directors, and directors. “It’s used at all levels to analyze the data and inform important decisions” Mozie-Ross explains. The data stored in REX also plays a critical role in forming new enrollment goals and strategies. For example, Admissions can compare the admit and yield admit rates of its top feeder schools and even examine the success of enrolling students from particular high schools. These reports can easily be shared, allowing greater collaboration with partner institutions and schools and a more efficient recruitment process.
Not only is the data in REX used for recruitment, but it is also used in areas such as advising and registration. For example, Mozie-Ross and her team can use REX to oversee course demand. “We keep track of course utilization and availability throughout summer orientation for incoming freshmen,” she says. Using this information, they can either flag areas of concern or promote classes that still have many seats open as more students register for the upcoming semester.
According to Mozie-Ross, the best part about REX is being able to access the data from anywhere and at any time. In the past, she would have to make a list of all questions asked during meetings and then wait for an IR or IT staff member to get back to her with answers. Because of this complicated process, it wasn’t possible for information to be shared quickly. “When there’s a delay in answers, people think their questions or concerns are not important,” Mozie-Ross explains. But now, she can respond to questions in a more timely fashion. She usually brings her laptop to meetings so she can generate answers on the spot, making for more productive and meaningful sessions. Furthermore, because the system allows customizable reports, she can run a report for any specific request in a matter of minutes. Mozie-Ross believes this immediacy helps to strengthen relationships with campus partners, whether they’re community colleges or high schools, academic departments, or other administrative units on campus. “With respect to our partners, having the ability to easily access and share data shows we care about our students,” she says. “It also helps our partner schools and institutions better prepare prospective students for admission and academic success at UMBC.”
Since the implementation of REX, Mozie-Ross has been active with the user group that meets every other week to discuss issues and suggestions. While she does create reports for departments across campus that are not yet comfortable with the technology, in the future she would like to see the use of REX expand beyond her offices. “People are missing the opportunity to provide tangible evidence related to the effectiveness of their programs and services,” she explains. She would also like to see individuals who oversee student cohort groups use REX to track the data of members. Every college has a lot of data, but at UMBC, Mozie-Ross believes that DoIT has found a way to efficiently use and manage that information. “They have been great partners, and are open to understanding what we do and what we need in order to do that work,” she adds. “I look forward to seeing where the technology takes us.”
–Article and photo by Laura Lefavor ’13, Summer 2012