Thursday Plenaries

Using Data to Change the World

Courtney Brown, Jennifer Engle, Elise Miller

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Philanthropic organizations have long viewed colleges and universities as a worthy cause for their support. But in recent years, many have stepped up their investments in trying to make colleges more accessible, affordable, accountable, and productive as a way to meet society’s rapidly rising needs for an educated population. A particular focus of funders has been in trying to improve the use of data and information to help drive change. This plenary will feature program officers from three major philanthropies focusing on higher education – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Access Group Center for Research and Policy Analysis, and Lumina Foundation – who will share their perspectives on the nation’s postsecondary data infrastructure, what they have learned from investments they have made to date, and the role of data in helping to drive change that leads to better information and more student success.

Courtney Brown
Lumina Foundation


Jennifer Engle
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Elise Miller
Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis

Students, Data and Decisions

Tom Allison

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

College students today have more access to data and information to make educational decisions than ever before, whether they are looking to select an institution, choose a program of study, or to fill out a course schedule. In response, institutions, the government, the vendor community, and others are striving to meet these growing demands. What can we learn from students themselves about the kind of information that most matters to them, and how it is packaged and presented? In this plenary, Tom Allison of Young Invincibles, a nonprofit working to make the voices of college students heard in the national dialogue about access and success, will report on students’ perspectives on how they use data, the design of data tools, and questions of privacy and data security.

Tom Allison
Deputy Policy & Research Director for the Young Invincibles