Ohio's Miami U. looks for first chief data officer

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In an effort to enable a data-driven future at Miami University of Ohio, the institution’s leadership is looking to hire its first chief data officer.

“CDOs are increasingly becoming the norm at institutions across the United States and around the world,” David Seidl, the university’s chief information officer, told EsScoop. “As we leverage data as a key success factor, having someone who is tasked with a data strategy that keeps the data consistent, usable, and valuable is incredibly important.”

Developing and guiding the university’s first institution-wide data strategy will be one of the new CDO’s primary roles, Seidl said, and he or she will have to pay close attention to clear data definitions, good governance and accessible data.

“That all means that our future CDO will need to be a bridge builder who can work across our main campus, our two regional campuses, and even our international location in Luxembourg,” Seidl said.

Data collection, management and use has become a major priority at many higher education institutions across the country and plays a key part in almost every top IT issue, according to Educause’s priorities list for 2020.

“We see data as a new currency for the institution,” Susan Grajek, Educause’s vice president for communities and research, said at the organization’s annual conference in Chicago last month.

This is no different at Miami University. By bringing in a CDO, the university will be able to leverage a treasure trove of institutional data and make it useful and accessible for both academic and administrative operations, Seidl said.

Currently, data at Miami University is being collected and used by several teams across the institution, but this siloed approach creates limited accessibility to data that may be pertinent to a whole host of institutional undertakings .

“Miami has what I’d call data swimming pools. They’re crystal clear, carefully maintained, but fenced in for the divisions that use them or for specific users,” Seidl said. “Our vision is to remove those barriers and to make our data an available resource for all of campus while maintaining that clarity and ease of use.”

Seidl said he has seen how CDOs can transform how campuses think about and use data and hopes to bring the same type of change to Miami University.

“There’s really cool work to be done,” he said.