The end of 2015 is upon us, and it seems a good time to look back on what we have done well and to identify areas in which we can do better in the new year.  The good news—this has been a stellar year for Ithaka S+R publications. In the two program areas—Educational Transformation and Libraries and Scholarly Communication—we have issued 21 research reports, case studies and issue briefs.

The Educational Transformation program has focused on case studies that highlight innovative programs undertaken by universities, colleges, and community colleges that have resulted in more access to higher education and/or improved student outcomes. We looked at results achieved by institutions ranging from Arizona State University that now enrolls 70 million students because of its extensive online programs to Georgia State University that increased its six-year graduation rate from 32% in 2003 to 54% by 2014 to Valencia Community College that refocused its mission and goals around student success. These case studies have been widely read in the higher education community and, we hope, have generated discussion in other institutions about focusing on student success and lower costs.

The Library and Scholarly Communication program issued two influential research reports: “Office of Scholarly Communication: Scope, Organizational Placement and Planning in Ten Research Libraries,” and “Exploring Group Study at the University of Nevada, Reno.” The first grew out of a study for Harvard, and was really made possible because the deans and directors of the ten libraries studied, as well as scholarly communications staff, were generous with their time and information. Several librarians at the University of Nevada, Reno co-authored the group study report, and allowed us to extrapolate how lessons learned on their campus can help others embarked on similar projects. In our issue brief series, we emphasized improving the researchers’ experience of accessing digital resources, remaining questions for print preservation,  and several aspects of education for the profession and talent management. NYU’s Neil Rambo guest authored a brief on data management, laying out questions librarians should consider as they contemplate providing services in this area.

Research reports in Educational Transformation included evaluations of developmental math courses and advanced-level online courses in the humanities. Another report identified the adaptive learning solutions that are now available to the higher education community.

If you missed any of these publications and are interested in reading more, you will find that our greatly streamlined, much easier-to-use web site, which was created by a team of ITHAKA web and communications staff, makes finding and reading publications a pleasure.

All Ithaka S+R staff made a commitment to writing blog posts this year. We have published near a hundred blog posts on topics ranging from student and learning outcomes, faculty governance, and teaching with technology on the Educational Transformation side to discovery and access, learning spaces, and talent management from the Library ad Scholarly Communication staff.

Surveys figured prominently in our programs. Both the US and UK Faculty Survey were fielded in the fall, and we are looking forward to publishing results in 2016. Additionally, individual institutions in five countries ran a total of 32 local faculty or student surveys on their campuses. The staff also conducted surveys of staff diversity for art museum directors and for cultural institutions in New York City that are funded by the Department of Cultural Affairs. Our two program directors joined forces to carry out a survey of opinions of higher education leaders about important trends and issues in the field. We will use this panel of leaders to conduct periodic polls on topics of immediate importance and look forward to publishing the results.

We launched a new Research Support Services project in the field of religious studies, and we announced plans to begin projects in the fields of agriculture and Asian studies early in the new year.

We ran consulting projects, conducted workshops, and participated in a wide variety of conferences and meetings by giving presentations and working with colleagues in the community.

We were not able to take on all of the projects that colleagues asked us to join, and we always regret it when our capacity or agenda does not allow for being part of many interesting initiatives. In the coming year, we hope to enhance our workshop and leadership offerings.

Looking back on the year, we are proud of our accomplishments; we always hope to do more next year. We recognize that our success is made possible by your trust in our work. We seek to earn your trust in every publication, every presentation, and every conversation. We really appreciate the good ideas for new work you bring to us, and we are equally interested in hearing from you when you think we have missed the mark.

We are grateful for the privilege of working with our many colleagues in the higher education, library, scholarly communication, scholarly society, and publishing communities. We wish all of you happy and restful holidays and a productive and rewarding 2016.


Deanna Marcum and the Staff of Ithaka S+R