Meet the Staff: Jim Miller, MBA

 

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Mini-survey: “What staff member is responsible for research and analysis at the College, enjoys singing to large crowds, and is an Abe Lincoln presenter (impersonator) in his spare time?” (select one response):

a. Jim Miller

b. Jim Miller

c. Jim Miller

If you guessed a, b, or c—you’re right! Jim, who has been with the College since 2002, is the Director of Institutional Research (IR), based at the Concord Campus. No doubt you have received at least one faculty survey from him—if you haven’t, your turn will come!

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Jim Miller, Director of Institutional Research at Granite State College

Some of you worked with him on the Assessment Committee, while others have marched with him at Commencement (his favorite opportunity to sing the National Anthem, for each of the past four years). Jim hasn’t found time to teach at GSC yet, but came to the College having been an English Composition adjunct at NHTI: “I learned that teaching takes hard work and planning—but that it certainly has its rewards. . . like a student you run into years later who says that you made a real difference in their life.”

Jim has a BA in Russian from Middlebury, and an MBA from Cornell. Like many of us, his path to working in higher education has taken many twists and turns. “I was a waiter and occasional baker during college, so it felt fairly natural to pursue a career in the restaurant industry after earning my MBA.  After ten years in marketing and franchising work, it was time to start my own consulting business. Many of my clients were nonprofits, and through one of them I became involved with the re-launch of a NH- and UK-based magazine called Science & Spirit—eventually becoming its Publisher. That was certainly an unexpected—but interesting—detour! When Science & Spirit pulled up stakes and moved to Chicago, I stayed in NH and decided to try teaching. That, in turn, introduced me to GSC (then CLL), where I hired on as their first Marketing Director. The Institutional Research function began as somewhat of an “experiment” under President Karol Lacroix. Thankfully, it has worked out to be the perfect niche for what I enjoy doing!

“I learned that teaching takes hard work and planning—but that it certainly has its rewards. . . like a student you run into years later who says that you made a real difference in their life.”

So, what does Institutional Research (IR) do? IR is a service department, supporting staff throughout the College with reports, research, analysis, and other information-related assistance. In that regard, Jim plays a leadership role in framing research and analysis projects, developing and finding relevant (and accurate) data, and helping translate information into action plans. The IR Dept., which includes Pam Woods as IR Analyst, is part of Academic Affairs and reports to Scott Stanley, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Research.

Jim’s main interaction with faculty to-date (other than the annual Faculty Survey) has been around outcomes assessment: specifically, the Davis Foundation Grant-funded project assessing learning outcomes in entry-level Critical Thinking, Math, and Communications courses. During the coming year, he is looking forward to becoming more directly involved in assessment across the entire institution.

One of Jim’s more interesting projects revolves around understanding how GSC can retain more of its first-time students. His advice for faculty is certainly not original, but it bears repeating:

“the earlier you can notice—and tell an Academic Coach about—a student who is not fully participating or who is struggling and falling behind, the better chance they’ll have to recover and continue towards their degree. Waiting until mid-terms to see who is floundering is too late. Most of our students are working adults, so there are distractions and pressures that, especially for those returning to school after a long absence, can make the classroom (or online) experience overwhelming. First course stumbles, are one of the main reasons students stop out; however, on the flip side, those who make it through their first term—a tremendous new sense of accomplishment—are likely to try again in the next term. Providing struggling students with a bit of intensive help (and encouragement) in the first 2-3 weeks of classes can make a significant difference in retention and eventual graduation.”

To contact Jim, send an e-mail to jim.miller@granite.edu.