Staff Stories – Office of Research Administration

The Office of Research Administration (ORA) is responsible for collecting and analyzing institutional research data, facilitating and supporting research activities among members of the university community, and reporting and disseminating information useful for establishing policies and making decisions. What does all of this REALLY mean? Well, first of all, faculty and staff often seek assistance in developing evaluation methods for research initiatives, which often includes involvement in the grant writing, planning and follow-through stages. Allow us to toot our own horn:

Projects facilitated through ORA include Mursell House

  • Grants received from The Teagle Foundation for the “Lawrence Fellows in the Liberal Arts and Sciences” program and “Researching Assessment Methods in Tutorial Education” study
  • A Spencer Foundation grant to study factors contributing to productive discussions in the Freshman Studies program
  • The implementation of a suicide prevention program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • An Associated Colleges of the Midwest grant to determine beliefs about liberal education
  • A National Science Foundation grant to study innovation in the Department of Physics

Lawrence is required to respond to numerous requests from federal, state, and local agencies for data and statistical information on the university. These requests are fulfilled through ORA, in addition to requests from internal departments, committees, and faculty members for data that support their efforts. We want the campus community to be proud of the assessment efforts by ORA to meet accreditation goals, bolster Lawrence’s reputation, maintain compliance with all relevant organizations, and facilitate research or evaluation efforts within the campus community. Confidentiality can be ensured by ORA when working with faculty, staff, and student data.

The Research Administration website ( makes publicly available several documents commonly shared between institutions.

  • The Lawrence Profile summarizes fast facts about the campus, graduation and retention, enrollment, incoming freshman class, financial aid, faculty and staff, and tuition, to name a few.
  • The Common Data Set is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community to provide data to students and their families as well as peer institutions. This document provides commonly used/requested data including enrollment and admissions figures, academic offerings and student life information, tuition and financial aid details, faculty and class size figures, and degrees conferred by discipline.
  • Dashboard Indicators compiles a quick snapshot of Lawrence’s most important indicators over the past 10 years which are commonly used to compare with peer schools.

ORA is a member of The Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium which is an organization of private colleges and universities that supports member institutions through the collection and sharing of national comparative data needed for effective strategic planning. Lawrence benefits from this membership through secure data sharing which enables us to gather data on trends and issues of strategic importance, evaluate how we’re doing relative to our peers, and obtain this data in a more timely manner than from other sources.

ORA is somewhat off the beaten path, located in Mursell House on the corner of Washington Street and Park Avenue. With only two staff members, we are a high energy team! (Well, that’s the vibe we try to convey.) Bill Skinner, Director, joined ORA five years ago after spending 21 years as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kentucky. Lynsey Schwabrow, Associate Director, has been at Lawrence for two years following five years at Missouri Southern State University as a Career Counselor and adjunct faculty in Psychology. She is currently completing her Ph.D. The big gray house is also currently home to a Conservatory fellow, Sonya Downing, and Conservatory lecturer Dewa Adnyana, and a part-time grant assistant, Kristin McKinley.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for your research and data needs!