Spring 2020 Newsletter


John Mayer’s single “Waiting on the world to change” was released in summer 2006, and even though the full lyrics don’t exactly match our current situation, I wonder if we’re still waiting for that change. Our world has unquestionably shifted in the time since our annual conference in Orange Beach two months ago. We have been challenged with working from home and keeping ourselves and our families safe while we still seek to achieve our professional goals and meet reporting deadlines. How appropriate that this year’s conference theme was “A new decade of data”! This new decade has already presented some interesting issues to troubleshoot. We are certainly facing a new normal, but that doesn’t change ALAIR’s commitment to offer a variety of professional opportunities for our members and colleagues. We are open to ideas for continuing to connect in our new normal. Stay safe and well, and keep in touch!

Wendy Broyles

ALAIR President 2019-2020


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The 34th annual ALAIR Annual Conference took place at the Orange Beach Hampton Inn and Suites in Orange Beach, Alabama from March 11-13, 2020. The conference theme, A New Decade of Data, was selected to reflect the challenges and opportunities institutional research and their organizations face in an increasingly data-centric world. Little did we know then how much more important this would become in the weeks since the conference.

In total, there were 56 attendees at the conference, representing 17 two-year institutions and 14 four-year institutions. We had three sponsors for the conference, Weave and Emsi, both platinum sponsors, and SAS, a gold sponsor.

We kicked the conference off with a brand-new workshop from IPEDS, Beyond Compliance: How to Use IPEDS Data to Examine Student and Institutional Success Workshop. Twenty-four individuals attended the workshop. The workshop demonstrated how to utilize student achievement data captured in the annual IPEDS surveys using several hands-on case studies. Attendees arriving early had the opportunity to participate in a sandcastle team building exercise out on the beach Thursday morning. We have some incredibly talented members of ALAIR based on the results!

ALAIR would like to thank all our conference presenters. Without each of you, we would have no conference. We were fortunate to have presentations on a variety of topics including SQL, retention, institutional effectiveness, productivity, accreditation, Power BI, stress management, NSSE data, strategic planning, and data visualization. The full conference program and slides from some presentations can be found at

The Thursday night event was held at The Hangout, and it looked like everyone had fun. The venue, staff, and food were terrific, and it gave attendees a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Nuria Cuevas, SACSCOC Vice President. Dr. Cuevas’ presentation, Student Achievement: How IR Professionals Can (and Do) Support Institutional Approaches, focused on data intensive accreditation standards and how institutional researchers can support their institutions in meeting them.

Thank you to everyone that helped make the conference a success!

Lesley Shotts

ALAIR Vice President/Conference Chair 2019-2020


March 13, 2020 ALAIR Business Meeting Minutes Draft

Please review the draft of the March minutes. The minutes will be approved at the 2021 ALAIR business meeting.

2020 Treasurer's Report

The 2020 Treasurer's Report can be reviewed here.

Additional conference photos can be found on the ALAIR website:



Casey Thomas joined UAB as an Institutional Research Analyst II in March, and the team is thrilled to have her on board!

Tanisha Lewis joined Oakwood University as a Data Analyst at Oakwood University recently. She recently graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is happy to be in her new role because she can see the direct influence it makes in decision making.


There are two new appointments at Air University Maxwell Air Force Base. Dr. Mark Conversino is the new Chief Academic Officer, and Dr. Yolanda Williams is the new Chief of Academic Affairs.

Michael Gibson from Snead State Community College is pursuing a Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. He expects to complete the 30-hour degree program by Summer 2022.

Mandy Lanier, Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Wallace Community College Dothan, married James (Bo) Sessions III on May 16, 2020 in Orange Beach, AL.

Wendy Broyles, Director of Assessment and Compliance at Troy University, welcomed two precious twins on April 1: Lucy Marie and Joseph Aaron. All are doing great!


The 2020 ALAIR Conference program included 11 scheduled concurrent sessions, not counting 3 special topics/open discussions. An electronic copy of this year’s conference program is posted on our website here. We are proud to announce that “Helping Your Data Speak for Itself: Strategies for Effective Data Visualization” presented by Ginny Cockerill (pictured to the left) of The University of Alabama in Huntsville was voted as Best Presentation for 2020. This is Ginny's second consecutive year to win this award. Ginny will receive a $300 stipend after presenting this session at an upcoming AIR Forum or SAIR conference. Congratulations, Ginny, and thank you for your valuable contributions to ALAIR 2020!

Sutton Leadership Award

The Joseph T. Sutton Leadership Award was created to recognize Alabamians who have demonstrated leadership and outstanding accomplishment in the field of institutional research and related fields. Named for Dr. Joseph Sutton, the award should be a meaningful recognition of individuals who have provided exemplary service and leadership and who have actively supported and enhanced the goals of ALAIR. Details regarding the award’s eligibility criteria, selection process, and past recipients are posted at

This year, Cara Mia Braswell (pictured to the right with ALAIR President Wendy Broyles), who now serves as Director of Assessment of Institutional Effectivness at the University of South Alabama, was presented as the 2020 Joseph T Sutton Leadership Award winner. Cara Mia was nominated by one of her ALAIR peers on behalf of her service to the organization and the profession over the last 25 years. Congratulations Cara Mia!

Sam Lowther Travel Grant

The Sam Lowther Travel Grant provides a $300 stipend for travel to the Annual SAIR Conference or the Annual AIR Forum. The grant honors the memory of our colleague Sam Lowther, late Senior Analyst at Auburn University, who recognized the importance of professional organization participation in pursuit of individual and institutional excellence.

Judy Harwell (pictured to the left with ALAIR President Wendy Broyles), Coordinator of Data Collections at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Alabama, has been awarded the 2020 Sam Lowther Travel Grant. Judy looks forward to attending the SAIR Conference this fall in Point Clear, Alabama, and she will receive her $300 stipend after completing her travel. Congratulations, Judy!



WHEN: September 26-29, 2020

WHERE: Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama

DETAILS: The Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR) is dedicated to the advancement of research leading to improved understanding, planning, and operation of institutions of post-secondary education. SAIR provides a forum for the dissemination of information and interchange of ideas on problems of common interest in the field of institutional research. In addition, SAIR promotes the continued professional development of individuals engaging in institutional research and fosters the unity and cooperation among persons having interests and activities related to research. Visit for more information


PRESIDENT: Wendy Broyles- Troy University

VICE-PRESIDENT/CONFERENCE CHAIR: Lesley Shotts- J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College

PAST-PRESIDENT: Julianna Proctor- University of Alabama

SECRETARY: Hayley Johnson- University of West Alabama

TREASURER: Nareiko Stephens- Jefferson State Community College

MEMBER-AT-LARGE: Somer Givens- Auburn University

MEMBER-AT-LARGE: Mattie Hudson- Wallace State Community College- Hanceville

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: Andrew Davis- Enterprise Community College

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: Jessica Carroll- Wallace Community College Selma

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2020-2021 alair leadership:

PRESIDENT: Lesley Shotts- J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College

VICE-PRESIDENT/CONFERENCE CHAIR: Jacob Pleitz- University of Alabama

PAST-PRESIDENT: Wendy Broyles- Troy University

SECRETARY: Shannon Levitzke- Lurleen B. Wallace Community College

TREASURER: Nareiko Stephens- Jefferson State Community College

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: Jesse Lowe- University of Alabama Birmingham

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: John Glasscock- Auburn University Montgomery



The ALAIR website provides great resources and information about recent conferences and the organization’s history. Have news to share on the website? Please send news and information for the website to Julianna Proctor (


Connect with ALAIR on Facebook. Share announcements and photos, and let folks know when you’re attending an ALAIR event. Learning, networking, and entertainment don’t have to end when we leave the annual ALAIR conference.


The ALAIR listserv is designed for members to communicate and support each other. It is a good way for Alabama’s IR and related professionals to ask questions or share good practices and advice.