We now have astonishing levels of access to student data, which can be invaluable for a wide range of student success activities. But student data are also easy to misuse, and our new Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) system provides unprecedented access to new categories of employees. We need, therefore, an infrastructure to govern data activities, and we will be working to develop a comprehensive approach.
But even before that, we must address communication with students. The wide availability of student data could enable the sending of mass unsolicited emails to large portions of our student population. One useful model for considering what is appropriate is our existing campus-wide email policy, which requires approval from division heads and University Relations before an email can be sent to the entire student body.
To that end, we adopt the following policies for all academic programs:
- Departments, programs, and colleges may communicate only with affiliated students, defined as students who are enrolled in the program with which the sender is affiliated. For example, a department may email its majors, and a college can email its own students. Program administrators are free to create their own policies to govern the granting of permission to communicate with their students. And, of course, individual instructors are still encouraged to email their own students.
- Departments, programs, and colleges may communicate with unaffiliated students only with written permission of the dean of the college with which those students are affiliated. The dean should consider the purpose of the email and balance whether anticipated student interest in its content outweighs concerns about overall student email volume.
- All communication with groups of prospective (not yet enrolled) students should be managed through the campus Customer Relationship Management tool.
Johannes Britz Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee