The Office of Institutional Research and Analytics (OIRA) serves the university by integrating research, assessment and planning. We operate under the guiding maxim “Generating discussion, fostering understanding, and promoting improvement one analysis at a time.” Our enrollment reports provide an overview of enrollment figures for each term. The fact book provides data broken out by school, student level, and numerous other categories. Our Common Data Set includes additional information not found in the Fact Book.
Mission, Vision & Values
OIRA serves many of the information needs of Samford University. This office provides a wide variety of data and information to university administrators, faculty, and staff for use in management, assessment, policy analysis, and planning, and coordinates the university’s responses to external requests for information. OIRA lends strong support to the university’s broad mission of nurturing persons through data collection (e.g., the fact brochure that introduces prospective students to Samford University) and assessment efforts (e.g., feedback from graduating seniors) that enable the university to gauge the extent to which it meets or exceeds the expectations of students. Data integrity is our primary concern as we seek to ensure the validity of our reports and analyses. This also furthers the mission of Samford and accuracy in decision-making as analyses are done using reliable information.
OIRA engages in continuous improvement. Each year, we strive to become more accurate and efficient in our data reporting efforts. The vision of Institutional Research and Analytics is to ensure that our office contributes to major policy and planning decisions at Samford that shall better equip the university in meeting its motto of Nurturing Persons: for God, for learning, forever.
This mission is undertaken while preserving the value of data integrity. OIRA places a high value on data integrity because the office’s work is a reflection upon Samford as a Christian university. This office also places a high value on the community relationships that have been nurtured through interactions and teamwork with members at every level and in every function of Samford University. Ensuring these collegial relationships continue is inherent to the office fulfilling its mission.
Institutional Effectiveness at Samford University is ensured by a strong relationship between institutional data analytics and institutional assessment practices. Randy Swing in “A New Vision for Institutional Research” defines the new role of institutional research as “coaching a wide array of data consumers, managing institution-wide data and analytical requirements, and orchestrating “the economics of institutional research” in balancing information supply and demand.” We realize that assessment and research are partners in helping the institution maintain quality measures.
The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment utilizes these data processes to enable academic, administrative and educational support units to make the best decisions possible in order to efficiently manage the University, contribute to the global community, and to enhance student learning. Webpages within this site address many of these processes.
The Office of Institutional Research and Analytics (OIRA) serves Samford University administrators, deans, faculty and staff, and trustees, as well as the Alabama Baptist State Convention, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the state and federal government, the NCAA, and survey designers such as US News and World Report.
The goal of OIRA is the efficient and effective generation of information needed by the administrators, faculty, and staff of the Samford community to implement policies and evaluate programs. OIRA presents information and data in a way that minimizes the time decision-makers spend interpreting data, and maximizing their ability to concentrate their efforts on the decisions at hand.
Quality Assessment and Outcomes
OIRA serves as a resource for generating outcome information, conducting needed assessments and generating meaningful results that can quickly be used by decision-makers as they undertake their responsibilities.
OIRA provides the skills and resources needed to assist policy-makers through each stage of policy analysis. These stages include evaluating policy implementation to assisting with the development of measures to allow for future assessment of the intended and unintended consequences of the policies.;
OIRA is a valuable resource for program evaluation in their ability to provide data to assist decision-makers as they implement programs, as well as assisting in designing evaluations. Program evaluation is a key tool for the Samford community to assess the design, implementation, improvement, and outcomes of programs ranging from those for entering freshmen to graduates entering the workforce.
The factbook serves as a repository of information ranging from enrollment information to retention and graduation rates, serving as a basis for fact-based decisions and understanding of Samford characteristics.
Enrollment Management and Student Analysis
OIRA is the chief source of the data, information, and analyses necessary for enrollment management.
Creation of Enrollment Extract Files
In addition to the enrollment and various extracts needed in the non-fall terms, each fall, OIRA creates the necessary entering cohort, enrollment, projection, and financial aid extracts necessary for the completion of external and internal requests
OIRA serves as a key resource in the development of survey instruments for evaluating student opinion and outcome assessment as well as the analysis of results.
Periodic Publications on a Variety of Topics
OIRA periodically releases publications on a variety of topics for use by administrators as they carry out the operation of the institution.
Participation on University-wide Teams or Committees
The OIRA staff participates in and presents to a variety of university committees and workgroups. OIRA must be included on every committee or team related to the university’s administrative software system due to OIRA’s key role in reporting and providing analysis and assessment, both of which rely upon information generated from this system.
OIRA is responsible for, or assists with, the completion of a wide variety of external requests for information.
OIRA plays a role in the university’s SACS accreditation and the accreditation and peer reviews of the various schools and disciplines comprising the university.
National Survey Requests and Completion of the Common Data Set
The completion of national surveys, including U.S. News and World Report, and maintenance of the Common Data Set are crucial OIRA functions in maintaining Samford University’s national reputation for academic excellence.
National Center for Education Statistics (IPEDS)
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reporting to the U.S. Department of Education is another key aspect to the reporting requirements of OIRA. IPEDS data serves to provide OIRA national level data for comparison to peer institutions.
Federal Government Reporting
In addition to IPEDS reporting, OIRA provides information necessary for compliance and federally mandated reporting requirements.
Alabama Baptist Convention
OIRA generates for enrollment and financial aid figures for the Alabama Baptist Convention.
Ad Hoc External Requests
OIRA assists Samford leadership and the Division of Marketing and Communication in providing accurate information and data about the university to the media, Alabama citizens and the general public.
The Office of Institutional Research and Analytics (OIRA) requires that any surveyor distributing an instrument to any part of the Samford University population must first complete a Survey Questionnaire.
Please make all survey requests at least six weeks prior to the desired distribution date.
All requests must adhere to guidelines set forth by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Samford University Institutional Review Board (IRB), and any other relevant university, state or federal guidelines/regulations.
If your survey contains any portion of a questionnaire that has been copyrighted or is the intellectual property of another party, your survey may be subject to approval by the external entity. In such instances, you must submit documentation showing copyright approval.
Completion of survey questionnaire does not guarantee approval. For final approval of the survey, the Survey Committee will require the survey instrument in order to ensure that the collected data do not duplicate existing data and that the survey is respectful of students, faculty and staff, and their time.
All data collected is a University asset with survey data provided to the Office of Institutional Research and Analytics.
Sources & Professional Associations
Alabama Higher Education
Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), a statewide 12-member lay board appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house and confirmed by the senate, is the state agency responsible for the overall statewide planning and coordination of higher education in Alabama, the administration of various student aid programs, and the performance of designated regulatory functions. The commission seeks to provide reasonable access to quality collegiate and university education for the citizens of Alabama.
- Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
- IPEDS (Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System)
- National Center for Education Statistics
- US Statistical Abstract Homepage
- Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
- Chronicle of Higher Education
Professional associations with which OIRA is affiliated.