The Office of Planning and Institutional Research (PIR) was created in Fall 1983 in response to the President’s interest in producing a strategic plan for presentation to the Board of Trustees. A one-person institutional research office that reported to Academic Services in the Provost’s office was reorganized that year, and reporting relationships shifted to the then-Associate Vice President for Information Systems, Planning, and Institutional Research. The office became the contact for the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium between 1986 and 2009. In 1987 responsibility for the Testing and Evaluation Services was added and the office moved to the third floor of the Ungar Computing Center. Between 1996 and 2004, PIR had responsibility for the University’s central web site. In 2007, the Assistant Vice President of Planning and Institutional Research started reporting to the Provost of the University. In 2010, PIR merged with the Office of Accreditation and Assessment and was renamed as the Office of Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment (PIRA).
PIR’s planning activities include tracking key metrics over time, comparing UM performance with that of peer universities, and producing five-year enrollment projections for the University.
- Institutional Research
The office engages in a wide range of institutional research and assessment activities as part of its mission to support planning, policy analysis, institutional management, and assessment by analyzing student, faculty, and other data to address issues related to a wide range of topics. PIRA publishes a pocket-size Fact Finder each fall summarizing key statistics about the institution; in addition, the office produces a more comprehensive Fact Book, available in the fall, spring, and summer, that includes five-year trends and data by school, college, and department. The office also prepares a series of reports relating to admissions credentials, financial aid, enrollments, grades, degrees, retention, graduation rates, teaching loads, class size, faculty, and employees. It sends a Fact File for each school and college and a series of reports to graduate programs to assist them in “cleaning” and analyzing their official data. PIRA responds each year to hundreds of other requests for data from outside agencies, the media, the Board of Trustees, the Provost’s office, vice presidents and deans, the Faculty Senate, departments, and faculty members.
- Analysis of Peer Data
Data relating to the University are routinely compared with data from other private universities and/or research universities. In addition, survey responses from entering students, enrolled students, graduating seniors, and alumni at the University of Miami are compared with those students at other private universities and/or research universities.
- External Reporting
The office provides data for the Department of Education (IPEDS), State (ICUF) reporting, the NCAA, professional organizations, and various college guides, including U.S. News and World Report. The office also prepares a Common Data Set report to provide data for a number of these outside surveys.
The office maintains databases dealing with enrollments, courses, class size, grades, course and curriculum, degrees, retention and graduation rates, admissions, housing, financial aid, athletes, faculty, employees, and teaching loads, all based on the official benchmark data from the University’s information systems. PIR works very closely with data custodians for each of these systems, producing a series of weekly “data management reports” to increase the quality of the data at benchmark.
- Surveys and Focus Group
Data from official university databases are supplemented by surveys and focus groups. Undergraduates are surveyed throughout their career: at admission, while enrolled, when withdrawing or graduating, and as alumni, and faculty and staff are also surveyed regularly. The office conducts focus groups of students, faculty, and staff dealing with a variety of issues (e.g., student life, housing, technology, and school/college issues).
- Professional Associations
The office maintains professional contacts with the Association for Institutional Research (AIR—the assistant VP has served as AIR’s president), the Southern Association for Institutional Research (the assistant VP is a past president), the Colonial Group (the assistant VP has served as the convener), and the Society for College and University Planning. The assistant VP has also served on the steering committee of the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC), coordinated by the U.S. Department of Education, and has chaired three working groups for NPEC and three technical review panels for the National Center for Education Statistics and has served as a member of numerous others.