Webinar Recap: Measuring and Managing Impact, A Story from the University of St. Thomas in Houston

Our clients are doing great things and we love sharing their successes. Earlier this year, Dr. Beena George, Dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of St. Thomas at Houston (USTH) joined us for a webinar, “Measuring and Managing Impact.”

Our discussion focused on how USTH is defining and capturing the impact of their faculty contributions. She also discussed how this aligns with the mission of both the College of Business and university as a whole. Dr. George shared “We needed a means to measure impact and to make sense of it in the context of the school’s mission and goals to drive continuous improvement.”

Read on for three key takeaways and insight. Did you miss the webinar? Or want to watch it again? Here’s the recording.

Background

Founded in 1947, the University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic university in Houston, Texas. The university has one central campus with a combined five schools and 36 undergraduate and 18 graduate programs. At USTH, the core focus of the university as a whole as well as each college is teaching. The Cameron School of Business at USTH is an AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited school with 27 tenured and tenure-track faculty.

1) Develop a Structured Way of Thinking About Impact

To help decide how to construct and define impact your university should start with some exploratory questions. Consider asking: “What your mission calls for you to impact,” “Whose activities have impact,” “What activities create impact,” “Who these activities impact,” “How to recognize impact,” “Why recognizing impact is important,” and “What the intention is of these activities.” It’s also important to factor in your university’s balance between teaching, research and service activities.

For George, it was important to make a connection to the Cameron School of Business’s objectives of “growth and enrollment while being able to understand and explain the impact of the school in different areas to stakeholders.” She continued, “There’s faculty activities—teaching, research and service. And there’s student support service, alumni connections and engagement opportunities. So, all these activities could produce some type of impact on different stakeholders–from development of students in the academic arena and outside the classroom as well as alumni, the community in general, business practices, our peers in academia and more.” All these touch points were integral to USTH when considering how to measure impact.

2) Decide How To Define How You Will Measure Impact

Before attempting to capture impact, George suggests you spend some time thinking about how you will measure and manage it. For USTH, reviewing literature on the topic laid a strong foundationsome resources their team referenced included the Business School Impact Survey and the AACSB “Impact of Research” report. These publications guided Beena and her team in discussions with faculty as well as brainstorming about about quantitative versus qualitative assessments, immediate versus delayed impact, direct versus indirect effort, measurable versus non-measurable effects, simple versus multiplier effects and more. By discussing the means in which to measure impact, USTH was able to decide ways in which to capture and manage it.

George also recommends considering the variety of different activities that the faculty invest time in, the potential for impact and the intentionality of each activity. She explained, “It’s important to identify activity drivers. Universities should give thought to how it impacts an audience as well as the magnitude and quality of the impact.”

3) Reporting the Impact of Teaching, Research and Service

Once the foundation is set—and you have defined what your university will capture and how it will be measured—use a faculty activity reporting solution to collect and report on the information you need. USTH has partnered with Digital Measures to achieve their two goals: streamlined data entry for faculty and comprehensive reporting. “We needed to think about how we would actually collect the pieces of information that we wanted, make sure it was granular and interpreted in the right way,” George explained. She continued, “The information in Activity Insight gives us a very quick picture of our faculty’s work… We were able to craft our own story of continuous improvement.”

Watch the webinar to see actual examples of how the University of St. Thomas at Houston collects impact information as well as the specific custom reports built for them.

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