Analytics on COVID cases

Written Question

Due to the president’s focus on metrics, we now have a vice president for analytics. Even with this focus, we remain at the bottom of the metrics within the SUS. Further, I am concerned with how COVID-19 cases are being reported. We have significant data on various performance metrics but virtually no analytics on COVID cases—all we see are weekly counts. I would like the administration to provide a far better analysis of cases, especially as there is an obvious push by the

BOG for faculty and students to move toward more face-to-face classes.

I would like to remain anonymous, however I would appreciate if you could relay my concerns to appropriate offices on campus.


On the first point, I suggest reaching out to Bob Greenlaw, who is spearheading the UNF COVID response effort.  Also, trends in cases and who is being infected are regularly updated at

As for the impact of analytics, that one is easy.  Below are a few examples, all of which are directly attributable to the impact of analytics, particularly those outcomes involving enrollment, diversity, and retention growth.  Once we get the data from other institutions across the country, I believe you’ll find that the combination of growth in those three factors will be among the top 10 in the country, and perhaps even #1.  Also, had the analytics that generated the improvements below not been done, it is highly likely that we would have long since faced substantial layoffs, including the shuttering of programs.  Thus, analytics has had a direct hand in going from facing dire consequences to having one of the best success stories in the United States.

  • Freshman classes: 73% growthin last 5 years
  • Traditionally underrepresented freshmen: 163%growth in last 5 years (247% among Black / African-American)
  • Realized and forthcoming growth in tuition and fees due to 5-year growth in freshman classes: $76 million
  • First-year retention rate: 1 percentage pointgrowth in last 4 years, to a record UNF high
  • Graduation rates: 70% growthin last 5 years, to a record UNF high
  • Growth in metrics points: 47% growth in last 3 years (largest in the SUS), to a record UNF high
  • Performance funding received in the last two years: $25 million+

Metrics goal

Question Posed to Dr. Szymanski, UNF President

In terms of your goals, have you considered changing your metrics goal from “getting more points” to “improving UNF’s ranking” so we’re not camped out in the bottom three among state universities?

Respond from the floor by Dr. Szymanski, UNF President and Dr. Coleman

Dr. Szymanski offered that metrics are not optional, and that the BOG uses them so UNF must consider them, and while UNF does address metrics, he views them as an outcome and not a particular set of goals. In this way, in attending to improving aspects of the university that support faculty and students, the metrics are likely to improve as well.

Dr. Coleman clarified that the bottom 3 rankings no longer limit an institution’s receipt of performance funds and instead institutions are measured against themselves year over year for improvement.

University of North Florida (UNF) metrics performance

Question asked from the floor by Dr. John White, Faculty Association (FA) President:

I’ve seen the marketing department promote how well UNF performed/improved on some of the metrics but have not seen them provide the final ranking. I have heard that UNF once again has ended up ranked among the bottom three universities in terms of overall metric score. Is this accurate? If so, how did this affect UNF’s funding? When hired, was the university president’s main mission to get us out of the bottom three?

Answered from the floor by Dr. Simon Rhodes, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs:

Dr. Coleman’s data office is a good resource, generally, for these kinds of questions, and confirmed that UNF is still in the bottom three for points in SUS. He stressed UNF’s ongoing process to improve in those metrics and is not standing still in working on how it improves. He explained that UNF scored 15 points (83) higher than when the president arrived two years ago.

ISQ Improvement

Question from June FA meeting for fromer Provost Pam Chally

To what extent have you made sure that improvement of ISQs is not coming at the cost of course quality? Many faculty are putting excessive weight on attendance, take-home exams, open book exams, and grade curves, so that the students like them. How are the colleges controlling that? Or is it a college policy to only do what is necessary to improve metrics? If so, can we change the mission statement to low quality instead of high quality education?


Dr. Chally Answered from the floor

One of the things that I am really proud of, of the time that I spent in the provost’s office, is that as an outgrowth of that, we now, and you’ve heard about it twice, have a group that is looking at teaching evaluation, not just ISQs, but the whole package. And that’s what it really needs to be all about. We need to make sure that faculty are appropriately evaluated and that students have a role that gives them a voice in the process. Thank you.



Leadership Crisis on Campus

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

What are you doing to address the current crisis in leadership on our campus? We have some ineffective deans, a severe lack of inspiration, and the metrics failure fiasco. Are we going to see bold, courageous, long-term solutions from you?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

Yes, they plan to work on inspiration, leadership transformation, and success. We are going to be a great institution.”

Online Education and Metrics

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

Once again UNF scored at the bottom of 11 schools on the Board of Governors (BOG) State University System Performance Metrics and once again the metrics on which UNF scored the lowest included student retention and student graduation rates. UNF’s bottom ranking means the loss of tens of millions of dollars in performance-based funding. Correctly the new president has chosen to embrace the metrics and is working to, among other things, increase student retention and reduce the time it takes students to graduate. However is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the prospect that a major of cause of UNF’s low scores in student retention and graduation rate may be UNF’s decision to increase the percent of students in online courses? Under the metrics, each university is permitted to select one goal to be evaluated on (the others are chosen by the BOG). Under the past administration, UNF selected the percent of undergraduate students in online courses as its chosen goal. However, a growing body of education research documents that student retention rates are much lower in online courses (50-70% lower) and lower retention rates mean longer times to graduation. It should therefore not be surprising to think that UNF’s choice to increase online courses as one of its metrics is having an adverse effect on the metrics of retention and time to graduation. Isn’t it time that UNF reevaluate its choice to increase online courses as a metric goal? While online classes are an increasing part of the educational landscape and technology enhanced teaching should not be avoided, no other Florida school has ever selected online courses as its chosen metric. Although an important decision, the choice by UNF to increase online courses was never a strategic one. According to one high-level administrator involved with the decision, the online course metric was chosen because it was considered “low hanging fruit” that UNF could accomplish quickly to increase its metric standing. The decision was also questionable in the face of UNF’s “high-touch” brand of “no one like you and no place like UNF.” Is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the apparent contradiction of UNF’s choice to increase online courses and the consequences of that choice for student retention rates and time to graduation? Has research been conducted to check if student dropout rates at UNF are higher in online courses like research documents? Has research been conducted to determine if UNF’s low retention rates and longer time to graduation are adversely affected by students taking online courses at UNF?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

I do not have an answer to all of these questions; however, we are strategically pursuing answers to these questions through our Institutional Research office.