SAS recognizes excellence in teaching and the use of analytics

Inaugural education awards honor Western Kentucky, Kennesaw State professor and Student Ambassadors

Analytics is not only one of the hottest fields for new graduates, it is also used by educational institutions to improve administration, teaching and learning. In acknowledgement of the importance of analytics in education, SAS has recognized Western Kentucky University with the first SAS Excellence in Education award and presented Dr. Jennifer Priestley of Kennesaw State University with the Distinguished Professor award. The 2012 SAS Student Ambassadors were also honored at SAS® Global Forum.

"SAS values these accomplished instructors, students and educational institutions that are innovative in deploying analytics," said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. "The honorees distinguish themselves in using and teaching analytics, demonstrating the impact of SAS in higher education."

WKU's business analytics success

The SAS Excellence in Education award spotlights an educational organization using SAS to improve operations, empower leaders, prepare students for today's workforce, spark innovation and/or expand educational opportunities.

WKU's Office of Institutional Research (IR) employs SAS Business Analytics for data integration, analytics and Web-based reporting, providing timely insight into students, faculty, programs and courses. A SAS customer for 17 years, the IR office added SAS Business Analytics to save time for itself and its constituents.

WKU incorporates different data sources, such as HR data, course information and outside data, to better determine what drives student success.

University instructors assess all freshmen after five weeks to ensure they are on track with coursework. Deans and department heads can monitor assessment progress, while advisers see who is struggling in specific classes and can intervene with anyone underperforming.

One WKU dean, noticing a program had few part-time students, analyzed its course offerings. Most were scheduled between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., difficult times for nontraditional students and those with jobs. SAS highlighted the need to expand offerings to attract more nontraditional students.

Creating analytics experts at Kennesaw State

Dr. Jennifer Priestley is a professor of applied statistics and directs Kennesaw's Center for Statistics and Analytical Services. The 2012 Distinguished Professor award, which honors the late Dr. Patricia Cerrito of the University of Louisville, recognizes a professor using SAS in teaching and/or research and supporting successful student use of SAS.

Dr. Priestley drives KSU's efforts to meet demand for graduates with analytics expertise and arm them with highly marketable skills. Instrumental in creating a Master of Science in applied statistics, a minor in applied statistics and data analysis and a SAS certificate in statistical analysis, she teaches statistics to undergraduates and graduates. To date, 60 students have earned SAS certificates.  

Of 104 master's program graduates, all who qualify to work in the US are employed. The program emphasizes full knowledge of statistics and practical application.

The Center's advisory board includes Atlanta-area Fortune Global 500® companies to ensure alignment with industry needs. Dr. Priestley created a graduate course that incorporates real-world experience cleaning and analyzing structured and unstructured data by partnering with one board member company to provide massive data sets. 

Tomorrow's analytics leaders

Also recognized were the  the 2012 SAS Student Ambassadors. These students are using SAS in innovative ways that benefit their respective industries and research. They are:

Manoj Immadi, Zubair Shaik and Ning Song from Oklahoma State University; Patrick Hall and Ryan Snyder from North Carolina State University; Yi-Fang Wu from the University of Iowa; Phillipe Baeke from Ghent University; Lori Miller from the UC-Davis School of Nursing; Merland Petit-Bois from the University of South Florida; and Jacob Warwick and Aaron Daniels from Cary Academy. 

Winners of eight student honorable mentions, 11 student scholarships and eight faculty scholarships representing 24 institutions were also recognized.

Today's announcement was made at SAS Global Forum, the world's largest gathering of SAS users, attended by more than 3,400 business and IT users of SAS software and solutions.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW® .

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