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The Transformed Emphasis on Community College Research

Supporting the Profession Community Colleges Division AVP or "Number Two" Faculty Graduate Mid-Level Senior Level VP for Student Affairs
December 15, 2023 Richard Monroe Metropolitan Community College - Kansas City

Hello Community Colleges Division Members!

I am Dr. Mayra Olivares-Urueta, she/ella, and it is my honor to serve the NASPA CCD as faculty-in-residence. One of my goals during my tenure in this role is to elevate the research and work being done about community colleges and by our very own community college student affairs professionals. For this first publication, I am thrilled to feature our very own CCD Director, Dr. Richard Monroe! My deepest gratitude to Dr. Monroe for his contribution. Enjoy the read and please continue to visit our page for more features and CCD information and updates.

The Transformed Emphasis on Community College Research

Presented by the Community College Division

Welcome, Friends and colleagues,

Research in higher education is not only vital, but it allows professionals to share the incredible work that is happening all across our profession.  The NASPA CCD is revitalizing the focus on research within the community college realm, and we are excited to begin sharing with the profession all the outstanding research that is occurring.  Fairly often, when we think of higher education research, we only think of Research 1 institutions or more prominent four-year Universities.  The CCD is here to showcase the fantastic journey of community college professionals, adding to the academia of knowledge.

If you are not already aware, the NASPA Community College Division is the professional home for community college professionals and those seeking to become community college professionals.  As a division of NASPA, with a rich history in supporting the work of community colleges throughout the nation, the CCD continues to share the passion and knowledge of the community college constituents with other higher education professionals.  For the past year, we have begun to focus on highlighting community college professionals who are indeed adding to the academe by sharing the passion and knowledge.

I am Richard Monroe, Ph.D, and I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the NASPA Community College Division Director.  I serve as the Student Engagement Manager for the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri, where I get to oversee all the co-curricular experiences through assessment of my two direct reporting departments, Campus Life & Leadership and Career Services.  I immensely enjoy working in community colleges, as it allows me to connect on a different level with students, where we celebrate small wins together and process through not-so-good times.  Our positive impact as community college professionals on our students is not to be taken lightly but embraced.  I have had the opportunity to work at two four-year institutions, one of which is my double alma mater.  In addition to serving as the CCD Director and my full-time position, I recently defended my dissertation, and have earned my Ph.D. in Education, Instructional Design, and Technology.

I was asked to share with my CCD friends and colleagues a little bit about my current research and how it informs the work I do in the community college.  My dissertation research was focused on understanding the difference between business intelligence capability and the value and competitive advantage of higher education professionals who do and do not utilize Business Intelligence Analytics (BIA) and Big Data (BD) tools within their institution.  This research focused on mid-level professionals, comparing those serving at community colleges and four-year public and private higher education institutions.  For those that may not be aware of what Business Intelligence Analytics or Big Data entails, it includes a myriad of tools and resources including, data analysis, exploration and visualization, Artificial Intelligence discovery, data science and data driven business decision modeling; to name a few. 

My focus of this research was to better understand if there was a difference in how the rich information we can mine from data can be used to inform our higher education decision-making process.  I hope that this work, for community colleges specifically, will help to give us a use-case for institutions to identify resources that can be focused on understanding our students better and how we can serve them with the resources they need on a timely basis.  This renewed outlook will hopefully give community colleges, in addition to four-year institutions, an opportunity to utilize BIA and BD tools to gain a competitive advantage within higher education. 

As practitioners in higher education, we need to continue seeking out scholarly research to stay abreast of what is happening for the generation of students attending our institutions and continue adding to the richness of education.  We are called as scholars to advance knowledge.  Why not seek new ways to embrace the difference we can make in students’ lives today?  I challenge all community college professionals to continue researching, embrace change, and share the knowledge with others.  We hope this platform can help you and others highlight the significant work we do every day.