The Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR) was inaugurated on December 1, 1992. However, its staff and physical resources had been present on campus for almost a decade before that. The Office is essentially a reconfiguration of the Human Organization Science Institute, established in 1983. The Human Organization Science Institute, had been predominantly concerned with external evaluative research and training in the human services.
Based on a recommendation from the 1990 Middle States Accreditation Team, the University decided to formalize its Institutional Research (IR) and selected the HOS Institute for this role. This decision was driven by the fact that the incumbent HOS team embodied all the core skills required to launch a comprehensive IR office. Staff were well versed in critical functions such as: survey research, instrument development, statistical analysis, qualitative research and report writing.
The activity soon swelled to include not only classical IR activities but a range of key support projects such as establishing and coordinating a continuous quality improvement program (Villanova Quality Improvement), a multi-faceted training program including a leadership training sequence and a range of organizational development (OD) assignment. Over time, several of these charges were spun off to other internal units (a culture of evidence based decision making).
OPIR currently concentrates on front line IR work and has distinguished itself in this area. Our systematic survey cycle, our CATS system (design and managed by OPIR), a number of our Strategic Planning tools/techniques have been published in refereed journals, presented at conferences and drawn the praise of colleagues.
OPIR's professional staff is a productive and experienced team. Typically, each year, the team completes approximately ten major University-Wide, strategic level, high impact projects. These help shape the direction and quality of the University. These range from a comprehensive Community Climate Survey to an annual senior survey. A strategic alliance exists with the Office of the Provost and OPIR systematically devotes research and evaluative efforts directly to our academic mission through this partnership. Additionally, over forty other surveys and focus groups are annually conducted addressing a variety of academic and co- curricular issues. Our CATS team annually prepares approximately 4,460 distinct reports ranging from 3,600 individual faculty reports to 14 college -wide reports as well as a comprehensive University- wide one.
OPIR staff members serve in key roles in the University's strategic planning process and also offer coordination and expertise to the assessment of learning. Traditionally, OPIR staff have played a central role in the development of Middle States self-evaluations.
Further, members of the OPIR team coordinate and/or produce dozens of formal reports in response to external data requests from the federal and state governments as well as Middle States and a number of professional associations.
OPIR staff sit on numerous external boards and leadership committees as well as over 20 internal Villanova committee. Staff also contribute to the published literature in professional journals and share insights with their colleagues in other institutions through conference presentations.