UNTS focuses on culture, governance to make data work

Drowning in data it couldn't use, the University of North Texas System adopted an ambitious strategy to build a data-driven culture and the ability to apply analytics to every aspect of its operations.

UNTS focuses on culture, governance to make data work
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The University of North Texas System (UNTS) is big as higher education institutions (HEIs) go, but it is leveraging data to make itself nimble and responsive.

UNTS employs more than 10,000 people at its various campuses, with a combined enrollment of nearly 44,000 students, and an annual consolidated budget of $1.2 billion. It includes the University of North Texas in Denton (UNT), the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth, and the University of North Texas at Dallas (UNTD). In all, it boasts five major teaching locations.

Like many HEIs, UNTS generates a lot of data, but until a few years ago, it had little to show for it. The data was siloed, data governance was non-existent, and analysis required manual coding. Worse, after three failed attempts to establish a data warehouse and analytics program, hope and trust were in short supply.

"There was a significant lack of trust in the information and data resources that were being provided prior to the program start," says Jason Simon, associate vice president of data, analytics, and institutional research (DAIR) at UNT. "It was the wild, wild west of data and there was no clear governance around information, resources, and data elements."

Moreover, UNT's reporting was largely time-bound and static, and did not allow for forecasting or longitudinal analysis.

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