February 10, 2014
Mark Figueroa is the director of institutional research at Lewis & Clark College. He gathers and interprets data on housing, student life, athletics and academics, and helps administrators use limited resources in creative ways. Last year, he reviewed the student life division with a six-person team. They transcribed 45-minute interviews with more than 60 staff members, from resident advisors to associate deans. The themes, problem areas and recommendations they identified restructured several departments, including the Career Development Center and the Office of Leadership & Service. Figueroa has also served as an Ex officio member of the Athletics Advisory Board and cochaired the Strategic Planning Council for the Journey Forward: LC’s strategic plan for 2020 and beyond.
At Claremont Scripps College, Figueroa was working on increasing faculty diversity as part of a statewide program funded by the James Irvine Foundation. The registrar told him it would take a week to find current data, because Claremont didn’t have an institutional researcher. Figueroa asked the Provost to create the office, and later she encouraged him to apply for the job. “I read the job description and said ‘hey, I can do this,” he said.
Since then, Figueroa has worked as director of institutional research at St. Mary’s College and Scripps before joining Lewis & Clark. The most challenging part of his job is condensing information. He prepares reports on graduation rates over 4- or 5-year periods and summarizes full-page spreadsheets in eight-point font on powerpoints. At an admissions event, he only got a few minutes to respond when a parent asked, “why is your college worth $1,000 a week?” One of the assignments he gave while teaching institutional research was to draft a one-page memo to the vice president of a college, explaining the value of a new program. Students struggled, but the experience paid off, he said. “One student told me ‘that thing we had to do in class, I actually had to do at work.’”
Figueroa will again teach courses on his evolving field for the M.A. in Student Affairs Administration program. “There’s probably more of a demand for it now than there has been in the past,” he said, “because of the increased amount of accountability.” His courses will cover governance, equity and diversity, foundations and assessment and planning.
Institutional research acts as a hub for the institution, across all three schools, student affairs and academic side. It helps people understand what questions to ask and how to use the data in a meaningful way. Students come to use with different needs. We need to be creative
Area of Expertise
PhD [Year] Claremont Graduate University, M.P.A. [Year] Arizona State University, BA [Year] University of California at Riverside