Virginia Tech’s administrative data is a decision-making resource that can be of pivotal importance in shaping university-wide strategy, but proper management and use of this ever-growing store of data is crucial.

Recognizing this dual-edged opportunity, Virginia Tech established a University Data Governance Council (UDGC) in August 2020. The council was charged with providing strategic guidance for the university’s data management and analytics efforts.

The effort was co-chaired by Vice President for Information Technology and CIO Scott Midkiff and Executive Vice Provost Don Taylor (who succeeded Ken Smith in this role). The council has strategic responsibilities to develop university data definitions; to craft and endorse policies and best practices related to sensitive data, security, and compliance; and to inform requirements about storage architecture, data access, and sharing. 

“Our ability to collect, manage, secure, and employ data effectively across the university is critical to our growth and success as a land grant institution. The University Data Governance Council is well positioned to leverage best practices and the expertise of the council members to ensure our databases are reliable and strengthen our commitment to evidence-based decision making,” said Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost.

The council’s efforts during the first year were focused around working groups made up of UDGC members and selected subject matter experts, each tasked with developing and documenting guidance in these four topic areas:

  1. Data access, risk, privacy/ethics, and compliance.
  2. Data quality, integrity, and systems of record.
  3. Metadata and data dictionary.
  4. Data literacy, training, and tools.

At the conclusion of the first academic year, the working groups presented the outcomes of their activities. Reports on these efforts are published on the UDGC website and include:

  • An inventory of existing Virginia Tech policies related to data, with a gap analysis that shows where policy or standards are lacking.
  • A streamlined version of the 17-page “Administrative Data Management Standard” focusing on data domains, trustees, and stewards.
  • A survey of VT data stewards that was used to create an inventory of data, its source of record, and current practices. Information from more than 20 administrative areas and departments is included.
  • An summary of existing metadata practices and data dictionaries, including recommended next steps.
  • Results of a survey of departmental IT managers; including a list of data analytics tools currently in use, a summary of related training needs, and recommended next steps.
  • A draft of a “Guide to Data Protection for Data Trustees and Stewards,” which codifies consistent data access requirements and request processes, and identifies needs for new or modified policies, standards, and guidelines.

Over the coming year, data quality will be addressed in collaboration with the University Data Commons and the Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness (A&IE) office. The council will also continue to recommend improvements for streamlining access to administrative data by units wishing to enable analytics and simplify consistent reporting across the university.

“Advancing data-driven decision making is integral to our pursuit of institutional excellence. Our ability to boost accountability, transparency, and operational effectiveness relies heavily on data, further emphasizing the need to safeguard this invaluable asset at the university level,” said Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president and chief business officer and co-sponsor of the UDGC initiative.

The UDGC is among the many examples of ongoing administrative transformation efforts helping Virginia Tech build upon its capacity to deliver best-in-class administrative and business services, while taking advantage of the latest technology to achieve this charge.

More information, including the council’s charter, scope, reporting structure, membership roster, and reports are available at the UDGC website found at The council seeks input, ideas, and comments via a form that can be accessed at the website. Questions and comments may also be directed to

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