Michael Weisman head shot

Spotlight on Strategy with Michael J. Weisman

At the IEHE, we are always excited to have the opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done by our colleagues. As part of the launch of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation, edited by our own Kristina Powers, we’re bringing you a series of profiles of the higher education professionals who share their knowledge and expertise in the book.

Head shot of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities author Michael J. Weisman.

Michael J. Weisman co-founded Campus Labs in 2001 and serves as its Vice President of Campus Relations. He co-wrote Chapter 7: Anticipating Challenges and Offering Possible Solutions with Shannon LaCount. In their chapter, they note that many institutions have never created a data strategy before, and can find it challenging. Chapter 7 addresses the issues that may prevent an institution from naturally moving forward with a data strategy planning process.

Key Chapter Takeaways

Unlike a decade ago, there are very few (if any) colleges and universities with a shortage of data.

“The challenge is determining what to do with all of it. How do we make all the data we have more meaningful and actionable?”

Learning what to do with the data, and developing creative solutions to managing it is Michael’s key takeaway.

Michael J. Weisman On the Process of Writing

Michael indicates he is new to writing for the purpose of contributing to professional literature, which is why he enjoyed co-writing with his colleague Shannon. He was excited to embark on the task since the chapter covered topics that he discusses every day with his clients. In approaching the chapter, the two authors started conversations with clients about how and why they engaged with Campus Labs. They asked questions they don’t typically ask when pursuing a new client, like “What influenced you to contact us?” and “What were some of the data challenges that were presented in using our products?” The answers were insightful, both for the book and for their day-to-day work serving higher education clients.

An Excerpt from Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities:

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: A data strategy should be a resource, not a burden. At a minimum, welcoming a variety of voices helps to ensure that they’ve been heard and allows for the creation of a comprehensive list of needs. Inclusive data strategies can be a resource and an inspiration.
There are various methods for inclusion. Campuses can form groups focused on data strategy that are either ad hoc, existing only during the planning phase, or permanent and advisory as the strategy is launched and requires adjustments. Some institutions develop an academic intelligence vision and designate a leader who concentrates on the campus as a whole. 
Others are driven by mandates or ongoing review, so they start in offices of assessment or educational effectiveness and expand involvement from there. Similarly, enrollment and business considerations may drive the strategy. . . 
 ‘Not everything that can be counted counts.’ While the origin of this saying is debatable, the meaning holds true. Improvement and innovation are well served by meaningful information. This is best achieved through a process where all stakeholders have an opportunity to be heard, which informs the institutional data strategy.

Want to read more? Order your copy of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation now! You can also read more about the chapter authors and an extended excerpt from the book.

Do you write in your head before getting your thoughts on paper? Where do you find inspiration for your professional writing? Tell us about it in the comments below.