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Bill Clark is accustomed to co-workers who don’t completely comprehend what he does as an institutional researcher.

Want to look at historical enrollment data to see if there is a quantitative answer on how to improve admission efforts in the New England states? Bill Clark can help. Maybe you are interested in how graduates of the past five years are doing since they left campus. Bill Clark is a great person to start with.

Clark joined the College this spring as its first Institutional Researcher.

“It is important to have someone in place who does this to provide access to information that is scattered in different places,” says Clark, who earned a master’s degree from Kent State and two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington. “I serve as a translator for the questions that people have on campus, but don’t know how to obtain the data or even where they are housed. You may have a certain question that you articulate in plain language. I can articulate it in the language the databases have.”

Provost Janet Bland said Economics Professor Greg Delemeester did a great job filling the IR position in a part-time capacity, but the College needed someone who could do it full time.

“With the creation of this position and the arrival of Bill Clark, there are so many opportunities for us to enhance our performance. People talk about ‘data-driven decisions’ — in many ways I prefer ‘data-informed decisions’ as there is always a human factor,” Bland says. “We’re very happy to have him join our team and help us take the College forward. Every college and university gathers a huge amount of data — but to make it meaningful, you have to manage it, organize it and understand it in order to make informed decisions.”

Bland also added that the College needed help in responding to the data that must to be collected for a variety of accrediting bodies.

“This is what cutting-edge higher education looks like — institutions that succeed are able to support their decisions, to guide their choices, to research what has worked and what doesn’t, to increase the chances of success because we were able to draw conclusions about retention, admissions, assessment of student learning, all based on data,” she says.

Clark came to Marietta from the University of Akron-Wayne College. He says he backed into this type of work after beginning his career by teaching statistics and later working as a data analyst for the National Institute of Mental Health.

“It’s not like I said, ‘this is what I want to do,’” he says. “I’m glad to be here and I have a chance to put my stamp on this. Everyone has made me feel very welcome and my arrival was highly anticipated. … In just my first week, I already felt palpable progress.”

-Tom Perry