The Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) are looking for a Data Specialist III. Successful candidate will be required to work from the THECB location (1200 East Anderson Lane, Austin Texas) 3 days per week and the UT System location (700 Colorado Street, Austin Texas) 2 days a week. For more information, please view the entire job description.
Job Type: Limited term, one-year minimum – contingent upon additional contractual funding.
Performs advanced technical and analytical policy research work for higher education. Work involves providing professional expertise, technical assistance, and support for UT System related activities including research, data collection and analysis, and special projects. Prepares technical and policy reports. Work is performed under minimal supervision with considerable latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment. This position reports to the Assistant Director of the Educational Data Center.
General Duties and Responsibilities:
- Analyzes data for better understanding of higher education using SAS software
- Insures the accuracy of data collected and assembled for staff and public use, for publication, and for inclusion in higher education and P16 data warehouses
- Performs technical and analytical tasks with particular emphasis on the interpretation, aggregation and evaluation of a variety of statistical and qualitative data related to higher education linkages
- Interprets data and information received and provides cogent explanation to constituencies
- Responds to ad hoc customer requests, both internal and external to the agency, and provides customer support
- Writes programs for data analysis and compiles data for review
- Analyzes data and information related to high school student participation in college-level courses and college student participation in developmental education courses
- Takes initiative on projects and completes them successfully without close supervision
- Assists Director with special projects including preparation of the regional plan for higher education
- Cooperates, collaborates and works as a team with members of the division, agency, and other state offices
- Understands the reporting system and the different uses of data, including state-level higher education reporting systems
Required Minimum Education and Experience:
- Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- Minimum five years progressively responsible experience performing complex PC programming for data analysis, testing, validation, and problem solving using PC SAS (or equivalent statistical software)
- Six months of the work experience described above may be substituted for each semester (15 semester hours) of the required college education with a maximum substitution of two years
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
- Knowledge of PC programming and software, including statistical analysis
- Knowledge of statistical methods
- Skill with a PC using Microsoft Word, Excel, and database software
- Skill with the use of statistical and reporting software (SAS preferred)
- Skill using written and verbal communication
- Skill in creating ad hoc reports and products using PC SAS (or equivalent), Excel, and Word
- Ability to work at the Coordinating Board location 3 days per week and the UT System location 2 days a week
- Ability to travel approximately 5% of time
- Ability to accept and follow instructions given in a variety of forms
- Course work in database management/computer programming is preferred
- Relevant work experience with higher education data is preferred
- Experience with Microsoft SQL is desirable but not mandatory
- One year of additional related work experience may be substituted for each year of the college education, with a maximum substitution of two years
- Additional accredited education beyond the bachelor’s degree may be substituted for up to two years of the work experience requirement
The Texas Tribune made a splash this past weekend with its three-day Tribune Fest, providing a forum to some of the state’s most prominent thinkers, politicians, and public servants who were only too happy to dive into the state’s and nation’s most pressing issues: public and higher ed, immigration, healthcare, transportation, energy, environment, criminal justice, and government transparency. This year’s solid lineup included Governor Rick Perry; U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn; state Senators Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, and Dan Patrick; Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and many others.
U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) teamed up with Stephanie Huie, UT System’s Vice Chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) for a panel presentation “Making Higher Ed Affordable.” Rounding out the six-person panel were Dan Jones, President of Texas A&M Commerce; Texas State Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock); and Sue McMillin, President of Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation. Texas Tribune reporter Reeve Hamilton served as moderator.
The panelists covered a lot more than the title would suggest, delving into the necessity for better consumer information to help students make critical decisions concerning their academic career path, UT System’s approach to reducing costs to students, and the need to address a more seamless path for students who transfer among UT institutions or from community colleges.
The hot topics for this panel were the importance of educating students about the costs of college and student loan debt, and finding what post-graduation salaries are by major. While the Federal
Government needs to clarify information and streamline the options they present to students and parents about what financial support is available to them, Stephanie Huie was able to expound on the attributes of OSI’s seekUT tool and website, and explain how seekUT provides data to answer these questions.
The first of its kind in the academic arena, seekUT gives students an idea of what their average loan debt will be, as well as an idea of the average salary they will make in their chosen career upon graduation. Once version 2.0 of seekUT launches later this fall, data for 11 graduating classes from 2002-2012 will be available – seven more graduating classes than what is presently offered.
The tool will also provide median earnings data for one, five, and 10 years after receiving a degree, allowing students and their families to select the right academic path for a more lucrative and satisfying future. The new 2.0 version of seekUT will show average student debt by the month, rather than just the total amount, and it will also include data of those students earning graduate and professional degrees.
Another important issue discussed was that of higher education funding, which, due to increasing healthcare demands for longer-living Americans, is receiving less state investment than in prior years. The UT System has taken a number of innovative approaches to reduce costs, having frozen in-state tuition for all of its nine academic institutions for the past three years.
Congressman Castro brought to light the fact that students are paying more for college because they are taking courses at community colleges that ultimately have to be retaken upon transfer to a university. All the panelists chimed in on the importance of timely graduation in reducing higher education costs, describing UT System’s innovative programs that offer rebates and incentives to students who graduate in four years.
Photo credit: Patty Ryan
If seekUT had been around in the 70s and 80s, there’s a good chance that more than 700,000 Baby Boomers would not still have outstanding student loan debt
If you are a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964), you’ve probably been working on that nest egg of yours for more than 40 years. You did all the right things. You got a higher education, climbed the corporate ladder, socked money away in your 401K, paid into Social Security, raised your kids, put them through school, and now you are preparing for the joys of retiring and being a loving grandparent. You’ve been eyeing that Callaway driver or a luxury RV, planning a trip to Italy or considering a face lift to make you look as young as you feel in your Golden Years. That’s the American Dream, and you are living it – except for one little problem – you have outstanding student loan debt, and that’s moving your nest way up and out of your reach. What the heck happened!? you ask.
If this scenario fits your present situation, bear in mind that you and more than 700,000 Americans 65 years or older are in the same boat, according to a Report released on September 10th by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). In fact, the debt held by post-graduate sexagenarians and septuagenarians amounted to more than $18 billion in 2013, or about 16% of the total $1.2 trillion of outstanding student loan debt.
Sadly enough, statistics also show that Boomers default on student loans at a higher rate than younger generations. According to a recent Inside Higher Ed article – Senior (Citizen) Student Debt Rising – by Michael Stratford:
“More than one-quarter of federal student loans held by individuals 65 to 74 years old are in default, compared with only 12 percent of loans held by borrowers 25 to 49 years old, the GAO found. Among the oldest borrowers, those over 75 years old, the default rate is even higher, with more than 50 percent of those loans in default.”
But wait! you say, Doesn’t a lot of that debt reflect loans taken out to put children through school? Yes, but far less than what you would expect. It turns out that approximately 80% of that loan debt is attributable to the borrower’s own education. And what’s more, many of these Boomers are repaying their loans at a much higher rate than Generation X (1965-1979), Generation Y (1980-2000), or Generation Z (2000-present). Adding insult to injury, this debt cannot be discharged, so soon-to-be retirees are facing the fact that the government can garnish their tax refunds and Social Security benefits by as much as 15% to repay delinquent student loans. There goes the Callaway driver and the trip to Italy!
This scenario isn’t limited to just those students who took loans out in the 1970s and 1980s. Consider parents today who are in their 40s or 50s and are facing the reality of funding their children’s college educations. They may consider taking out a Parent PLUS Loan, which is a loan taken out in the parents’ name. According to Robert Farrington in an article he wrote for Forbes – Parents: Stop Taking Out Loans For Your Child’s College Education – Parent PLUS Loans are not exactly flexible and most likely will not be forgiven either under the Federal Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Program or by the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Following an even dicier road, parents may consider taking out a private student loan (with usually higher interest rates) either in their name or as a cosigner. Perish the thought, some parents even resort to taking out home equity loans! Regardless of the loan or the reasoning behind it, these parents are ultimately going to be completely responsible for the debt incurred.
seekUT to the Rescue
Of course, the ideal outcome for students is to graduate from college debt free. Thankfully, there are more alternatives to fund higher education available to students today than ever before, but parents and students have to be aware of the potential loan debt in the first place, before they make their final decision. This is where seekUT comes in, and why students who plan to attend college in Texas can move ahead of the pack. In January of this year, UT System launched the seekUT website and interactive tool, which has proven to be a great resource for students and their parents when it comes to helping them make informed decisions about their education.
Not only does seekUT give students an idea of what their average loan debt will be, but it also gives them an idea of the average salary they will make in their chosen area of expertise once they graduate. The seekUT tool provides data that shows median earnings for graduates one and five years after receiving a degree. This information allows students and their families to select the right academic path for a more lucrative and satisfying future.
Not resting on its laurels, UT System Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) made sure that seekUT continued to evolve over the year, launching a new version of the tool in August that is suitable for Android and iPhone use. But wait, there’s more! UT System OSI is preparing to launch the 2.0 version of seekUT later this year.
The new seekUT version will allow users to:
- Search by institution
- Find out what their average student debt will be by the month, rather than just the total amount
- Access earnings data for those who received graduate and professional degrees
- Tap data that is based on the 1st and 5th year earnings across 11 graduating classes from 2002-2012 – seven more graduating classes than what is presently offered.
The Moral of This Story
Whether you end up with a nest egg or a goose egg depends on whether you pay your student loan debt before you near retirement. As the old Chinese proverb says, “In the broken nest there are no whole eggs.” I just say, “Seek(UT) and you shall find.”
The Office of Strategic Initiatives is looking for a Senior Research & Policy Analyst (Job ID #1392). For more information, please view the entire job description on UT Share.
Conduct complex statistical data analyses to evaluate institutional and System effectiveness using data from the UT System data warehouse and other data sources and translating analyses in a clear, straightforward, and non-technical manner for a wide variety of audiences and for dissemination in a variety of mediums. This includes:
- Data collection and gathering, restructuring of existing data files, merging of data files from multiple sources, and data cleaning
- Design and developing a research approach that utilizes sound and appropriate methodology, both inferential and descriptive, for the specific research question
- Maintain comprehensive and accurate documentation of data cleaning techniques, methodological decisions, and necessary decisions and the logic/reasoning for the choices made about the research approach taken
- Developing and writing rigorous and high quality policy papers and briefs and other publications in order to disseminate the findings and any recommendations resulting from the analyses
- Develop creative visual displays for data findings for use on the Web, as well as for presentation of findings in meetings or conference settings
- Representing OSI at internal and external project-related meetings. Present analyses at professional meetings and conferences, when appropriate
- Conduct analyses to respond to regular ad hoc requests from various stakeholders in a timely and accurate manner. This may include mining data from multiple sources, including working directly with campuses to obtain the necessary data; gathering and providing comparable benchmarks (national, state, and institutional peers) for metrics of interest; working with the stakeholder to increase understanding of what data is available to answer the question posed; writing a brief synopsis of any analyses, tables/graphs, or findings; and fully and accurately sourcing and explaining any limitations of the data
- Research and stay current with the literature and industry best practices in research methodology, statistical techniques, and data display. Monitor trends in higher education at the national, state, and institutional level in order to work with the assistant director to identify the topics for new research studies. Stay informed about System-wide initiatives and goals, as well as campus level initiatives, and collaborate with UT System and institutional colleagues to work strategically to align research project goals with those broader initiatives
- Masters degree with at least five years of experience in higher education research and policy
- A minimum of 5 years of experience using SAS or equivalent statistical package to conduct statistical analyses is required
- A minimum of 5 years of experience working with complex, large-scale datasets. Analytic experience should include a full range of professional statistical work such as sampling; survey response bias analysis; collecting, cleaning, and conducting both descriptive, as well as complex inferential analyses; and interpreting results of statistical techniques such as simple and multiple correlation, analysis of variance, regression, and tests of significance. Candidates should have experience in conducting research and analyzing quantitative information with an eye towards communications and policy evaluation and development. Strong communication skills, both written and oral.
- Proven ability to complete projects with attention to detail and a high degree of accuracy, to work independently, with minimal supervision, and function as part of a collaborative team
- Advanced ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously, work in a fast paced environment and shift priorities quickly, without losing track of project or deadlines.
Data Warehouse Developer
The Office of Strategic Initiatives is looking for a Data Warehouse Developer (Job ID #1391). For more information, please view the entire job description on UT Share.
- Participate in the development of a System-wide research data warehouse, which includes data integration, data quality, data cleansing, and other Extract/Transform/Load (ETL)-related activities
- Work with ETL and reporting tools such as Data Integration Studio to load data into the warehouse and extract data for various usages.
- Assist in the coordination and compilation of an information repository from national, state, component and internal database system
- Assist in the visual and technical layout of the dashboard and interfaces, web development of portals, reports, visual analytics, data dictionaries, and additional links. Develop and edit website content
- Ensure accuracy and integrity of data and applications through analysis, coding, writing clear documentation, and problem resolution
- Provide end user training on application software and possibly develop user manuals
- Provide technical knowledge of ETL solutions for Business Intelligence projects
- Analyze and translate functional specifications and change requests into technical specifications
- Develop and maintain information systems and software, including problem identification, analysis, database structure design, testing, and implementation
- Create and maintain development and production environments, implementation of appropriate tools and technologies, establish users and permissions as required
Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Science, Information Systems, or related field and 3 years of experience with data warehousing, data mining, query, and data analytics tools to include 1 year of experience as an ETL Analyst in a dimensional data warehouse environment. Ability to complete assignments with attention to detail and a high degree of accuracy, to work independently, with general supervision, and function as part of a collaborative team. Advanced ability to shift priorities quickly, without losing tract of projects.
According to Ancestry.com, the last name Cockerham is a locational surname. The town of Cockerham, which is located south of Lancaster in Lancashire, started out as a homestead (“ham”) on the River Cocker. Not to be mistaken with the rock star Joe, cocker actually means “winding.”
Is this English geography important? Of course it is. Cockerham just happens to be the ancestral provenance of Elizabeth Cockerham, OSI’s newest family member.
Elizabeth joins OSI as an experienced and multi-talented Project Manager who will manage the numerous facets of the Research Data Warehouse initiative, as well as lead multiple projects to deliver business critical data. Some of her other responsibilities will include project planning, requirements definition, analysis, development of risk mitigation strategies, and ensuring the quality of projects through testing and validation activities.
A Native Texan and Air Force brat, Elizabeth has lived and worked in many places, including Washington, D.C., a number of Mid-Atlantic states, and New York City, as well as London, England. Elizabeth brings 20 years of diverse business and technical experience as a project manager, grant and compliance director, human resource manager, consultant, and small business owner.
A graduate of Louisiana College, Elizabeth received a BA in Theatre Arts Management with a minor in Psychology. Since that time, she has directed the implementation of projects varying from high visibility state projects to small website implementations for non-profit organizations. Most recently, she served as a project manager for Blackbaud.
Additionally, Elizabeth enjoys an activity-filled life, traveling, cycling, participating and directing triathlons, and partaking in any water activity she can find.
All of my change I spent on you . . . NOT!
Keep the change. seekUT can now be accessed via smartphone!
I mean, really, who uses payphones anymore? The Maroon 5 song is catchy, but it doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to accessing UT System’s seekUT tool, which, by the way, is not available by payphone. As of today, however, it is certainly available via mobile phone.
The seekUT website, which is now suitable for Android and iPhone use, is designed to provide users with the three key pieces of data from seekUT: median first-year earnings, median fifth-year earnings, and average student loan debt for UT System graduates by major.
The seekUT website and interactive tool, which made its debut in January 2014, evolved as a result of recommendations by the Student Debt Reduction Task Force to explore potential solutions to the issue of growing student debt. After the initial launch, the seekUT tool was made accessible via an iPad and other tablet devices. Today the new version of seekUT can be accessed from smartphones.
I talked with OSI Assistant Director Jessica Shedd, who was the lead on this project, and asked her the following questions:
Q: Why is it important to make seekUT accessible via mobile phones?
A: We all do so much of our web browsing these days from our mobile phones, and this is particularly true of students. We have come to expect easy, anytime access to websites and tools. And now students, as well as all seekUT users, can get basic wage data anytime they want – while they are commuting, vacationing, or lounging by the pool. Anyone can now access the seekUT tool through their smartphones.
Q: How do users access seekUT on their mobile phones?
A: They can access the seekUT site from their phones at http://www.utsystem.edu/seekut
Q: Is the mobile site different from the full seekUT tool?
A. Yes. The mobile version of the tool is more limited in scope than the full version in order to accommodate the smaller screens of smartphones. However, the mobile version still focuses on simple presentations of the key pieces of data from seekUT: earnings and student debt by majors.
Q: Is the seekUT site still accessible by other mobile devices?
A: Absolutely. The seekUT tool can also be accessed from an iPad and other tablet devices. Links to the smartphone-friendly tool and more information on the Mobile BI app that allows for use of seekUT from tablets can be found on the seekUT website.
Q: Will the mobile site be updated/revised from time to time?
A: Of course. As data on the full seekUT site are updated, the smartphone version will be updated, as well, to make sure that everyone has the most up-to-date information accessible to them, regardless of whether they are on a PC, tablet, or browsing from their phone.