Reinvesting in the Right Online Academic Programs

April 27, 2018

Gray recently had the opportunity to work with the Provost of a private, non-profit college with over 36,000 students enrolled in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.  The college’s existing portfolio consisted entirely of online programs.  When the college initially conceived the project, it was thinking in terms of identifying new flagship programs, but as they engaged with Gray, they began to think more broadly.  As she explained, “We realized it was more than just looking for a flagship program – we also needed to look at our entire portfolio of programs….  And I thought Gray would allow us to do that.” 

“In Gray, I truly felt like we had a partner we could trust.”

Online College Serving more than 36,000 Students


Data-Driven Decision-Making at its Finest

The Provost did her due diligence before hiring Gray.  The research left her impressed with Gray’s comprehensive dataset.  Discussions with her internal team cemented the Provost’s decision to move forward with Gray.  “The people in our business intelligence unit, who have significant resources, said that for us to pull this kind of data together would probably take one or more people a year or more, just to have that data.”

As the project progressed, our client was excited to find that Gray’s analytics provided insights into their existing portfolio of programs that even they had never realized.  “People were surprised at the amount of information that you were able to give us about the programs that we thought we knew….  We had a lot of small programs.  That was a shocker.  It’s interesting – you work so closely with it, you think you know them in-depth, but I think everybody was surprised to see how small some of our programs were.”

The client was equally impressed with Gray’s ability to understand and communicate the meaning of the data clearly and effectively across functional leaders, from the numbers people, to the deans, to the faculty running the programs.  “It was important for us to be working with people who we were confident were not only able to interpret those numbers correctly, but were able to convey it to a group of people and help them understand it.” explained the Provost.

“We need a systematic process for program review and the development of new programs.”

Online College Serving more than 36,000 Students

A Transparent Process to Prevent Group-Think and Encourage Teamwork

The culmination of the project was a multi-day workshop, facilitated by Gray, where the executive team at the college evaluated their entire program portfolio.  While some of the discussions centered on which programs to start, and which to grow or sustain, the team also had the tough conversation around the programs they might need to sunset.  Gray’s help proved especially valuable here, said our client.  “It was hard for me as the provost.  You know, I advocate for these people.  I work with these people.  I am their representative….  It was hard for me to say that, but I think the data made it easier.  I won’t say easy – you made it easier for that to happen.”

Although the discussion was difficult at times, Gray’s transparency and sensitivity were key to building consensus.  “So, as hard as the discussion was, the data made it clear.” said the Provost.  “Consensus was not always easy.  Gray really did help us to reach that goal.  I’m not sure we would have been able to do it as smoothly without Gray.”

In the future, the client looks forward to working with Gray again as they continue to refine their program portfolio.   “Working with Gray was data-driven decision-making at its finest,” said the Provost.  “I think one of the takeaways for us is that we need a systematic process for program review and for the development of new programs.” 

“Working with Gray was data-driven decision-making at its finest.”

Online College Serving more than 36,000 Students

Gray Associates

Gray Associates, Inc. provides the best available data, software, and facilitated processes to help higher education institutions make high-stakes decisions regarding academic programs, pricing, and locations.

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