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Behind the numbers

New OIRAA director aims to make data work for USC faculty, staff

The Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Analytics is the home for much the university’s broad array of institutional data. It’s where staff and faculty can go to find all kinds of key information: number of faculty, staff and students; enrollment data for each college and school; how many degrees are awarded in each area, and much more.

Donald Miles

“You can’t look at data in a vacuum, you have to understand how it’s connected and what it’s connected to to make a sound decision.”

Donald Miles, OIRAA executive director

The office’s new executive director Donald Miles agrees that keeping up with institutional data is a key part of his office’s role, but he also notes that OIRAA’s function goes beyond just storing information.

“One of the things we want to do is provide people with both access and understanding; how to ask the right questions and be able to understand the data and make informed decisions with it,” says Miles, who started in his new position in February after more than a decade at the university.

What OIRAA does

Much of OIRAA’s work happens behind the scenes, but the university would be fundamentally changed without it – it oversees the accreditation process. This includes coordinating and monitoring activities to maintain compliance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Beyond accreditation, the office provides institutional data and assessment findings for external reporting, like the U.S. News and World Report rankings. It also assists stakeholders with internal research, academic program and general education assessment, and support for the institutional planning processes.

It assists in contextualizing this information, too, in order to help people effectively use their data to accomplish unit or department goals.

As Miles says, “You can’t look at data in a vacuum, you have to understand how it’s connected and what it’s connected to to make a sound decision.”

Who is Donald Miles?

Miles has been with OIRAA since 2012 and served several different roles there before being appointed executive director. A first-generation student, Miles holds an MPA from Augusta State University and a B.A. in political science from USC Aiken.

He is excited to lead the OIRAA team, to whom he credits a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise. In his new position, he is looking to connect with other departments and build upon the data analytics community at the university in order to help OIRAA’s partners make informed decisions.

In the future, he sees the university as having the potential to be on the cutting edge of new technology in data and data analytics.

“I want to be on the front edge,” he says. “It’s time for people to start looking at the University of South Carolina as a leader in the areas of institutional research, assessment, accreditation and data analytics.”