New Director has New Ideas for Office of Institutional Research and Planning

Christopher Hourigan

Christopher Hourigan is RIC’s new director of Institutional Research and Planning, an office whose role, he said, is “to provide the information and analysis that help to gauge RIC’s success in carrying out its mission.”

Hourigan, originally from the Capital District of New York, joined RIC in September after working in the institutional research field as an assistant/associate director at William Paterson University in New Jersey, and director at the University of New Haven in Connecticut and Johnson & Wales University in Providence.

He is looking forward to introducing several new initiatives to his department, and to RIC, which he describes as a “hidden gem.”

“I feel fortunate to be able to lead an office that is so critical to the development of this college’s future and one that, thanks to the excellent staff already on board, has established a solid foundation I can build on,” Hourigan stated.

In addition to Hourigan, the staff includes Jennifer Ellis, assistant director; Michael Smith, interim assistant director; and Donna Konicki, the former director, who will serve in a part-time capacity until her official retirement at the end of the current semester.

The office reports to William Gearhart, vice president for Administration and Finance. Previously, it was under the purview of Richard Prull, assistant vice president for Information Technology, who will continue to provide guidance on several projects the office undertakes.

Hourigan plans to establish a survey research policy that he hopes will increase student awareness of – and responses to – the surveys undertaken by the college. He will take steps to ensure students know why the surveys are important, what is done with the results, and how student feedback will play a role in policy formation. The results of the surveys will be shared with the students whenever possible, he added.

Hourigan wants to streamline the survey process, by working more closely with other departments to get the most comprehensive data possible for a particular issue, and to ease the burden of those departments by taking a more hands-on role in collecting the information.

Also on his checklist is the creation of a Data Standards Committee to ensure accuracy, consistency, and efficiency in how the college’s shared data are maintained. The committee will work to facilitate better communication about changes and updates to data and develop a process for documenting these changes, Hourigan said.

To better assist RIC in making important decisions, Hourigan wants to incorporate a broader spectrum of data – from his department, others on campus and external sources – to provide the most complete picture of an issue facing the college. He will also expand his department’s efforts in gathering information on what’s going on outside of RIC – changing demographics, student interests – and to take a more far-reaching view of those factors, by looking at institutions in the region overall.

“We exist in a much larger universe than we may have been thinking of in the past,” Hourigan said. He believes that looking at how we compare to other colleges and universities on a variety of dimensions is essential.

Hourigan earned an EdD from Columbia University’s Teachers College and an MEd from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bowdoin College.

Thus far, said Hourigan, things have been going “very well” for him at RIC. “People seem receptive to the ideas I have.”

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning is located in Roberts Hall and can be reached at (401) 456-8099.