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New Committee Tackles Data Governance at UW

December 5, 2018

To the UW community:

A real trend in higher education today is greater use of data to inform important decisions, particularly toward the optimization of student success outcomes. By ensuring access to clean and reliable data, institutions can realize significant improvements in how they serve their students and the public, as well as how they direct limited resources to fulfill their mission and strategic priorities.

Data governance and access to data have been identified as areas in need of attention. Our goal is to grow our capacity to share and analyze data to make well-informed, strategic decisions. The purpose of data governance, broadly, is to develop university-wide policies and procedures that ensure that data maintained and utilized by the university meet established criteria within and across data systems -- and that they are used responsibly in achieving these goals. To address these needs, I have constituted a new Data Governance Committee, a standing committee reporting directly to the Office of the President.

I have charged the Data Governance Committee with the following responsibilities:

  • Develop the appropriate policies to govern the university’s use of data in achieving its mission and strategic priorities.
  • Develop a central data dictionary (that is, common definitions for specific data variables) and keep it current over time. It is understood that each functional area is responsible for the quality of the data from its area that is provided to campus.
  • Recommend additional data variables to be included in the central data environment to respond to the developing need for analytics.
  • Recommend a data architecture, including hardware, software, databases and associated infrastructure, needed to support student success and learning analytics in addition to business operations.
  • Broaden the role of the data authorities within major stakeholder areas to ensure data is up-to-date and accurate, to have ownership of approval and support of access including the training for reporting tools and the sustaining of accurate information in the data dictionary regarding their data.
  • Ensure ease of access and ensure that once data are located, users have enough information about the data to interpret them correctly and consistently.

The committee is composed of the data stewards of key administrative units, including Institutional Analysis, the Registrar, Admissions, Business and Financial Services, Human Resources, Financial Aid and Student Financial Services, the University of Wyoming Foundation, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Information Technology, and Budget and Institutional Planning. The representatives of these various offices are familiar with the data housed in their units and their uses, including state and federal laws governing their use. Others may be drawn into the committee’s activities, as appropriate. I have asked Jen Chavez, director of Enterprise IT, and Alex Kean, director of Budget and Institutional Planning, to co-chair the committee.

The Data Governance Committee met for the first time last week, and in the coming months it will begin to review the data environment at the University of Wyoming and make recommendations concerning data governance and the use of data. I appreciate that each member of the committee has accepted my invitation to serve in this capacity and look forward to receiving reports on their progress as they proceed in this endeavor.

Those serving on the committee include:

  • Information Systems: Jen Chavez, co-chair
  • Director of Budget Office, or designee: Alex Kean, co-chair
  • Planning and Effectiveness/OIA: Sue Koller
  • Registrar, or designee: Lane Buchanan
  • Manager of Business and Financial Services, or designee: Aaron Courtney
  • Associate Vice President for Human Resources, or designee: Jeanne Durr (replacement post-HCM implementation)
  • Director of Admissions, or designee: Christie Oliver
  • WyoCloud: Meredith Bickell
  • Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid, or designee: Debra Hintz
  • Vice President for Development, or designee: Toby Marlatt
  • Division of Academic Affairs and/or Dean’s Representative: Anne Alexander
  • Division of Student Affairs Representative: Jamie Miller


You will most likely hear more from this committee as the members get their work plan underway. In the meantime, I thank the committee for taking on this significant and very important work. If you have any questions about the committee, please contact the co-chairs directly, or you can always forward suggestions to me as well.

Laurie Nichols, President

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