Earlier this week I had the opportunity to provide an overview of the accomplishments of our unit, Outreach & Engagement, to our president and his leadership team. This was a great opportunity because it was just over four years ago that our institution decided to make a greater investment in doing more outreach.
The other great thing about this opportunity is that it forced me to look back and to take a critical look at what we’ve accomplished, and more importantly defining the what our indicators of success are.
At first blush, it was rather easy to look at our dashboard indicators, number of events, enrollments, revenue flow, etc. and it was apparent by those measures that we’ve been successful. It is unfortunate that for many of our units our success is only seen as pure qualitative measures.
But at the end of the day this was only a small part of the story I wanted to tell the President. The more important pieces of the story were answering questions like have we built and nurtured position relationships with our on and off campus partners; did we help our students succeed in the manner in which they defined success; did we contribute to the university and greater community; in short, were we good university and community citizens?
Answering these questions is certainly more difficult than showing growth in enrollments, events and revenue. What I found, to my chagrin, is that I didn’t have as rich data to answer these more important questions. While I felt that we have had a positive impact and that we were good university and community citizen, I felt as if I hadn’t done as good a job of obtaining measures to answer the important questions.
This was certainly a siren call to me that if I wanted our impact to be measured by more than events, enrollment, and revenue, then I and our unit needed to provide the leadership in identifying and gathering the appropriate data.
I believe this is also an important conversation we need to have as a profession and as an association. How do we want to be measured and what are the best methods for obtaining the information?