Meet Newman's new Director of Institutional Research

By Madeline Alvarez, Sports Editor

William Graves, who came to Newman as the new director of institutional research in January, has a pretty calm work environment, mainly working with data. But at the end of the day, he goes home to a full house, where he has his family of four waiting for him, along with their many exotic pets.

Graves was born in Wichita and obtained his undergraduate in human factor psychology at Wichita State University with minors in math and computer science. He then worked in a mental hospital for a year before deciding to return to school for his graduate degree.

After graduating from New Mexico State University with his graduate degree in experimental design research methodologies and psychology, he went to work at NMU’s Physical Science Laboratory.

Graves moved back to Wichita three and a half years ago and started working at Visit Wichita as its data analyst for tourism data. However, Graves said, he wanted to work at a university again.

Graves said that one of the reasons why he wanted to work at Newman was because of the university’s mission statement, which focuses on working with others and building each other up in a community environment.

Graves said a goal of his as director of institutional research is to work with faculty to apply for grants to help Newman grow.

Certain pieces of data need to be taken into consideration when applying for grants, Graves said, including things such as meeting different qualifications to be eligible to apply.

“The faculty may not know that off the top of their head,” he said. “So they would come to me and I would try and get those answers formed and then we would work together.”

Dean of Arts and Sciences Lori Steiner, who previously held Graves’ position until she became dean, said she believes the university is lucky to have found him.

“He’s been able to just step in and go with it,” Steiner said. “He's got a really strong statistics background, which is needed for that position because they have to analyze all of the institutional data and really help inform decisions for the institution on how to best move us forward, how to best serve the students.”

Steiner said the director of institutional research looks at data including students’ success characteristics, as well as financial data, enrollment data, and advancement data.

“The IR person has access to the data and just about every area of the university,” Steiner said. “And that's the person that kind of brings it together to help inform the cabinet as to what we're doing well, and maybe what we need to be focusing on.”

Graves has a wife, Sarah, and three daughters, two of whom are foster children. Sarah does tech support for Apple and works remotely. Graves said his wife’s schedule is part of what made the couple able to foster.

“She’s able to have days off that I would have to be working, and so we’re really grateful it’s given us that kind of flexibility because otherwise it would be very hard to try and foster. If you don’t have a stay-at-home parent, it’s very difficult,” he said.

Graves said each of his daughters is unique, and that the eldest wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

Because of this, Graves said, the family has what he called a “zoo at home,” which includes a crested gecko, a hedgehog, 10 hissing cockroaches, and others.

Graves said he has enjoyed his first few weeks at Newman and has had fun getting to know faculty and staff.

“I had a number of people just walk by my door and stick their head in and say hi, so that was a nice feeling...It’s been really positive,” he said.

PHOTO: Madeline Alvarez, Sports Editor