The Institutional Research and Planning team pose with their awards in early March, before university operations were moved to remote due to COVID-19. From left to right (back row): Janice Wiebe, Suman Jiwani, David Ham, Jennifer Parkhouse, Yolanda Dorrington, Wayne Sun. Left to right (front row): Joanne Quan, Zareen Naqvi, Kristina Harvey, Liny Chan.

Awards and recognition

Collaboration key to IRP team’s stellar achievements

October 29, 2020

Exceptional collaborative work has earned the SFU Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) team a 2019 Staff Achievement Team Award.

Working with faculties, departments and units across the university, the IRP’s 11 data analysts try to make sense of data collected from students, courses, surveys, faculty and staff, Facilities Services, and more. Their goal? To consistently deliver timely and accurate data for completing key reports that determine decisions on enrolment planning, budgeting, academic planning, students’ experiences, quality assurance, and much more.

IRP director Zareen Naqvi says much of her team’s collaboration stems from the wide-ranging institutional research they undertake.

For example, she says, some research questions require a variety of staff experts, with one person determining the research methodology, another pulling data, and someone else developing a short survey.

One award nominator praised the IRP staff’s skills in modelling anticipated enrolments, as well as the credit loads of new and continuing students. The IRP’s estimates usually land within one per cent of the actual numbers.

The IRP team also works with external organizations and governments, and is responsible for delivering requested reports and data submissions to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Statistics Canada, and BC Statistics.

Says one award nominator, “SFU continues to have a stellar reputation for data accuracy and institutional research expertise at the ministry and statistical agencies, due to the quality of the team members but also due to their consultation throughout the preparation of these reports.”

IRP staff members sit on a wide variety of university and external committees, which helps them to deliver data that can help faculties and departments with academic planning and external reviews, and recruitment and retention. Their work also helps to assess potential changes for improving university strategies.  

Says one nominator, “They are always available to present the data, to go beyond what has been asked of them, and to openly encourage others to provide input to improve their processes.

“There is lots of emphasis on team-building and problem-solving together, and staff are cross-trained to ensure that work continues when someone is away.”

“We do try to go out of our way to help people,” says Naqvi. “We’re not only team players within our team, we’re team players for the SFU community.”