University of Central Florida says new vice president of student success will bolster analytics efforts

The University of Central Florida filled the newly created position of senior vice president for student success on Thursday, hiring Paul Dosal away from the University of South Florida, where he held a similar position.

Dosal’s position on the Orlando campus involves using predictive analytics and “advanced technologies” to support students, target graduation rates and time to completion, according to a job offer. Dosal had experience implementing new data review and utilization systems at USF, where he oversaw campus-wide initiatives to improve metrics such as obtaining the graduation and retention.

Central Florida is the largest university in the state by enrollment, with over 70,000 students, and has a 75% six-year graduation rate.

Graduation rates rose from 48% to 76% during Dosal’s time at USF, according to the announcement. The University of Tampa used internally developed predictive models to assess first-year student achievement. She also purchased a predictive analytics tool that pulls information from her learning management system and student information system. Using this data has helped staff provide support to students at risk of dropping out, according to the USF website.

Under Florida state law, improving metrics such as graduation rates can result in more money for public universities. Graduation rates are one of 10 metrics used in Florida’s performance-based funding model.

Dosal’s rental is part of a UCF’s broader plan to use the data, university president Alexander Cartwright appointing a director of analysis, Paige Borden, in January. The school also created a data governance site last year, designed to provide clarity on improving university-wide policies and standards.

More and more universities are installing software that can pull data from across their systems to flag barriers to student success, with much of the demand fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Universities are seeing success in implementing these technologies, but their leaders need to act on what their analytics programs find, rather than just looking at the data, experts told EdScoop last year.

Dosal, a Latin American history scholar with a doctorate from Tulane University, begins his role at UCF on July 1. In addition to developing student success and enrollment management strategies, her position will also oversee mental health and student life administration.

“I view performance metrics as a tool to help us measure how well we serve our students as an institution,” Dosal said in the UCF announcement. “Focusing on initiatives to promote higher levels of performance is the right thing to do for our students. I am excited to build on the significant progress already made and develop a movement that will take UCF to the next level.

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