CIO 100 Award

2017 CIO 100 Nomination


The CIO 100 is a set of 100 awards given annually by CIO Magazine to recognize companies and organizations all over the U.S. that have demonstrated excellence in leadership, innovation, and business strategy. We were honored to be a recipient of this year’s prestigious award, along with so many other excellent tech companies and organizations.

To be considered for this award, OU IT submitted two of our recent successful projects, both of which we’re extremely proud. You’ve heard us talk before about ONE, and we’ve been pleased to hear your feedback about what you love and how we can continue to improve. But you might not have heard about the work we’re doing in data analytics and outreach with OU’s Chief Data Scientist and IBM Watson.

First, some background. This year OU achieved its highest freshman retention rate in its history, ranking among the top 30 of all institutions in the nation. It’s no secret that our highest priority at the University of Oklahoma is student success. We decided to try to build upon the university’s successful retention rates by working with OU’s Chief Data Scientist and IBM Watson to develop a groundbreaking new method for identifying students at risk of dropping out of school.

How did we do it? We used Watson to perform a sentiment analysis study on unstructured data from student admission essays. If you’re not familiar with a sentiment analysis, it’s the process of using data to identify opinions expressed in a piece of text to determine the writer’s attitude towards a particular topic. Once we understood what attributes could be derived from the Watson analysis, we could then pare those results with historical student data to determine if there was any correlation with student success.

Ultimately, Watson’s sentiment analysis determined certain causal patterns in the data for us to further assess along with other key retention factors as we seek to maximize student success at OU. Our hope is that this new data will help us better target our resources to those students who can most benefit from them.

Thanks so much to CIO, but also an enormous thank you to our people (pictured above! Hi!) whose hard work and dedication are the reason we’re able to accomplish the things we do.