Higher Education has been slow to adopt analytics in comparison to the commercial sector, but those institutions that have embraced a culture of analytics have seen significant and tangible results. Higher Education analytics can help in nearly every corner of academia including enrollment and retention, student success, academic research and workforce development.  

SAS has been a fixture in higher education for nearly 50 years and is proud to highlight the customers and projects honored by the 2022 EdScoop 50 Awards. The awards celebrate the top technology leaders and innovation across the higher education field. This year’s Ed Scoop 50 Award recipients underscore the breadth and variety of analytics in higher education and showcase institutions and leaders who foster a culture of better decision-making with the use of reliable data and predictive analytics, leading to student and institutional success.  

Higher Education IT Executive of the Year

Dr. Paul Nagy, Vice President for Strategic Planning and Analysis
Hillsborough Community College, Florida

Paul Nagy is a transformational data and technology leader. Over the last year at Hillsborough Community College, Nagy has implemented and refined both the near-grad and auto-grad programs. The college’s chatbot, Gwen, reaches out to “near-grads” who stopped attending with fewer than 15 credits away from a degree. In the chatbot’s pilot program, 61 students finished their degrees after receiving text messages from the chatbot. The auto-grad program automates the graduation process for students who have fulfilled requirements but never formally applied for graduation. This program now accounts for over 28% of all degree and certificate graduates.      

Learn more about the Hillsborough Community College “near-grad” program 

University Technology Leader of the Year 

Melanie Boynton, Director of Enterprise Systems and Data Intelligence
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Virginia

Melanie Boynton is the director of enterprise systems and data intelligence at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College, part of the Virginia Community College System. Boynton was tasked with providing data insights to leadership at J. Sargeant Reynolds to support student outcomes. Now, by gathering data from multiple campuses and creating systemwide dashboards, the JSRCC administration has data at their fingertips using SAS Analytics.  

University Technology Leader of the Year 

Dr. Thulasi Kumar, Associate Vice Provost  
Virginia Tech 

Thulasi Kumar is the associate vice provost for analytics and institutional effectiveness at Virginia Tech. Throughout his tenure in higher education, and specifically in institutional research, Kumar has embedded analytics into reporting and decision making for institutions across the country. At Virginia Tech, Kumar’s team is focused on putting data in the hands of decision-makers across campus through their analytics portal known as the “University Data Commons.” With an innovative eye for moving beyond dashboarding and utilizing predictive analytics, the Institution Research team at Virginia Tech is using cloud infrastructure to modernize and scale at the university. 

University Technology Innovation of the Year 

Course Schedule Optimization 
Augusta Technical College, Georgia 

Augusta Technical College is using SAS Analytics to provide a course schedule optimization which will provide outcome measurements and propose course times and days of the week for student success overall and for each delivery method and subject area. The analysis determines which instructors need additional training/resources based on desired student outcomes. The schedule optimization solution will include cost analysis and a schedule optimization component to provide a course schedule optimized around student outcomes (grades) that considers various constraints such as class size, location, instructor availability, and the technology needed in the classroom. 

Learn more about classroom and course scheduling optimization

University Technology Innovation of the Year 

Cold chain vaccine integrity 
North Carolina Collaboratory 

Vaccine waste and storage was a challenging part of the supply chain during the pandemic. The NC Collaboratory, based at the University of North Carolina, is integrating data from vaccine storage freezers at NC universities, including HBCUs and rural institutions that help get vaccines to sparsely populated areas. The Collaboratory cold chain integrity project used intelligent alerting to derive impact of effects such as temperature, humidity, vibration during transport, open/close, storage duration, and freezer capacity on vaccine viability.

Improving vaccine cold chain integrity with IoT analytics through SAS and NC Collaboratory partnership 

Learn more about the SAS technologies behind these innovative people and projects

About Author

Brock Matthews

Advisory Industry Consultant

Brock Matthews is an Advisory Industry Consultant at SAS. In this role, he builds public-private coalitions between institutions of higher education, federal and state government agencies, and private sector partners. Brock works with a network of postsecondary education alliance partners to provide analytic solutions to higher education’s most pressing issues. During his 21 years working in higher education, Brock forged partnerships and relationships with individuals and academic institutions across the country in various disciplines, including admissions, advancement, career services, human resources, finance, academic affairs, student affairs, and research. Prior to joining SAS, Brock worked for both public and private institutions including Duke University, Emory University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his most recent role, he served nearly eight years as the Assistant Dean of Advancement and the President of the Foundation for the NC State University College of Sciences. Brock holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and received his MBA from Emory University.

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