Embracing a Data-Informed Future at Marshall University, Like a BOSS


Late last fall, I had the distinct privilege of sitting down with a writer from BOSS Magazine to discuss the transformative journey of Marshall University (https://mag.thebossmagazine.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=0ab70d43-fba7-45f6-92d6-05cc49af80e9&pnum=42). It was an incredible opportunity to highlight how our institution, steeped in history and tradition, is adapting to the changing tides of higher education by embracing a data-informed culture.

The Renaissance of Marshall University

In the words of Principal John Hayes of Spring Valley High School, “I think we are witnessing a renaissance at Marshall University.” Our leadership is focused and solid, guiding the university through this transformative period. I am thoroughly enjoying being a part of this transformation, providing data and insights that help shape our future. The university, which has been an educational beacon since 1837, is undergoing a significant shift. We are moving away from outdated models and focusing more on a data-informed approach to drive decisions in areas such as budgeting and enrollment.

A New Era of Data Management

The article in BOSS Magazine accurately captures our journey towards revolutionizing data management. As Marshall University’s first-ever Chief Data Officer, my role has been and will become even more pivotal in this transition. We are breaking down data silos that have historically existed within the university and integrating data from various systems. This approach allows us to view students, faculty, and staff more holistically, enhancing the educational experience for all.

Predicting the Future with Data

One of the challenges we face is the anticipated decrease in high school graduates, particularly in West Virginia, which supplies approximately 77% of our student body. To address this, we are developing predictive models to anticipate enrollment trends, incorporating external factors such as state population statistics and graduation rates. This model will help us in strategizing to attract a more diverse student population, including out-of-state and adult learners.

Cultivating a Data-Informed Culture

The transition to a data-informed culture is more than just a technological upgrade. It’s a strategic shift towards being more connected, efficient, and innovative. We are empowering our faculty and staff with the tools and information needed to enhance student success and resilience in a rapidly changing world.  My favorite quote from the article is “this is teaching us that real institutional change actually requires a change of culture, and that may mean a replacement of culture rather than just a modification of culture.  It’s not just a technology change.  Without the right people, the right culture, and the right leadership, it won’t be successful.”  I believe we have the right mix at Marshall.

Staying True to Our Core Values

While we embrace these changes, we remain committed to our core values and the mission of our university. Using data to make informed decisions is crucial in how we plan to transform and continue to inspire extraordinary futures.


At Marshall University, we are not just changing with the times; we are leading the charge in higher education. We are dedicated to changing lives, inspiring futures, and remaining a pillar of innovation and excellence.

Here’s to the transformation of Marshall U, with data!

Brian M. Morgan
Chief Data Officer, Marshall University

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