2013 - 1st Quarter

Institutional Research and Planning (IR&P)

By Robert Mullen, Director Institutional, Research & Planning


Institutional Research & Planning

As part of the UM Office of Planning and Budget, Institutional Research and Planning (IR&P) provides information for senior administrators in areas of planning, decision-making, and policy development.  The Office also supports the information needs and requirements of several University of Missouri internal and external constituents.

To perform these functions, IR&P utilizes data from multiple university information systems—financial, student, human resources, grants and contracts, and financial aid.  In addition, IR&P develops survey instruments, collects and analyzes data, and publishes reports using both primary and secondary data.  The Office is responsible for providing compliance and required data to the Missouri Department of Higher Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, data exchanges and peer alliances, and special requests from a host of external organizations.  Bob Mullen, Director of Institutional Research & Planning, provides leadership in coordinating efforts among the campus institutional research offices in order to minimize duplication, support a census data repository, share research methodologies, and achieve greater efficiencies.

Many facets of work require the department to be Objective, Inclusive, and Reliable.


Institutional research staff strive to be objective in their work.  This is critical because those who use the information and analysis—especially the information being used for key planning or policy decisions—expect freedom from bias and a fair perspective of the issue at hand.  If data, information and analysis are not objective, the trust that the staff have established with their constituents is jeopardized and the effectiveness of the decisions being made on the University’s behalf will be undermined.


Inclusiveness is absolutely necessary in order to build and maintain an effective institutional research office.  This is particularly true because the staff work with several functional data systems (e.g., student, human resources, financial, etc.) across four relatively diverse campuses.  Consequently, gathering input and advice from functional experts as well as understanding the characteristics that are unique to a campus serves as precursors to effectiveness.  In addition, the office serves as an information hub for our institutional research colleagues on the campuses.  In particular, initiatives espoused by the UM System administration, state and federal compliance agencies, and similar initiatives are communicated via regular meetings, listserv announcements, and conference calls.


Reliability is extremely important to the functions of institutional research.  First, staff frequently compares characteristics about the University with other universities or peer groups.  Consistency in defining the characteristics—whether it’s credit hours, first-time college students, research expenditures, or graduation rates, – across all of these institutions is critical.  Second, staff examines a lot of trend or historical data to determine how things change from year to year or from semester to semester.  Defining and measuring these characteristics over time in exactly the same way every time is a requirement.  Most importantly, Institutional Research staff understand that the University community relies on them to provide the information they need in a timely, reliable manner.  IR staff do everything they can to honor that commitment.

To find objective, inclusive, and reliable reports, check out the IR website


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