Get To Know RVU Staff: Jennifer L. Williams, PhD

• Dr. Williams, Senior Institutional Data Analyst at RVU, has worked for 28 years in higher education, serving such roles as Career Advisor, Human Resources Manager/EEO Officer, Assistant Director of Faculty and Curriculum, Assistant Dean of Instruction, and Graduate Research Assistant.

• She came to RVU in 2014 where she first served as the Executive Director of Planning and Assessment, then as the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness.

• She is married and has a cat named Jax. She and her husband live in Eureka, Montana on 21 gorgeous acres, surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping. She is also learning to grow vegetables and flowers and to drive a riding lawnmower.

What’s the last movie you saw? Ford vs. Ferrari

What’s the last book you read? Assessment Essentials (2nd ed.) Banta and Palomba

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Kauai

If you had one free hour each day, how would you use it? Reading or hiking

What is a little-known fact about you? I was a high school social studies teacher for one year and that was enough.

What has been your favorite part about working at RVU? Getting to know our little-known Board of Trustees and ownership (former and current). We have some pretty amazing support that not many RVUers get to experience.

What is the best part about your job? It provides the opportunity to develop skills, support multiple constituents, and use my brain.

What one thing are you looking forward to in the coming year? Seeing my parents after a year-and-a-half due to COVID.

Who would you have with you if stranded on a desert island? My husband – he’s a builder and a farmer, so I think we’d be ok!

What would you like to be known for? That I had a positive impact on those around me, both personally and professionally.

What are Dr. Williams’ FAQs?

Why do we engage in outcomes assessment?

Internally, to improve student learning. We use student assessment data to measure individual student, course, department, program, and university performance in order to make evidence-based decisions about resource allocation, curricular changes, improvement plans, and future goals. Externally, to demonstrate compliance with HLC criteria and COCA standards that require performance and improvement evidence.

What is institutional effectiveness?

And what do I do with all of this data we’re collecting? We’re at the point where the bounty of data we’re collecting needs to be analyzed and understood by leadership, faculty, and staff to weigh against the reasons listed above. We use a balanced scorecard to discern if KPIs are met, but need more sophisticated methodologies to identify how the institution is performing at all levels – curricular, co-curricular, administrative, and operational.

Can you help me/my department with analyzing and making meaning of our assessment and evaluation data?

Yes! This will be part of my new role along with aligning systems, processes, and information to get the job done.

This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue of the Vista View Newsletter, which can be found here.

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