With data being a hot commodity, Pensacola State College has assembled a team to gather, manage, examine, establish, and infer the copious amounts of data available today. Higher education personnel use this data to forecast, measure, and view trends related to student enrollment and graduation rates, as well as numerous other measurable topics. Pensacola State College’s Institutional Research department is a band of diverse and highly qualified individuals who assist in the data needs of the college.
Michael Johnston, Associate Vice President, Institutional Research and Management Information Systems:
Michael Johnston is the current Associate Vice President, Institutional Research and Management Information Systems at Pensacola State College. Michael attended the University of Miami and majored in Mechanical Engineering and was involved in student leadership. Michael was active in student government, ultimately becoming Student Government President. Post undergrad, Michael was an intern for former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Donna Shalala. After that internship, he enrolled in AmeriCorps, where he worked with children of migrant families and assisted them in their math education helping them achieve a high school degree.
At Pensacola State, Michael oversees the leadership of the Institutional Research Department, Workday Deployment Team, and Management Information Systems. His team is responsible for understanding all intricacies of campus metrics and explaining the metrics to key personnel to improve the total campus understanding and awareness of data and trends. He has restructured campus datasets, restructured and developed reports, and developed statistical models to target at-risk student populations. Michael currently serves on the Executive Cabinet and is an Executive Sponsor of the Workday ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) deployment. Michael has been an adjunct instructor at Pensacola State College for over 10 years and has a faculty preceptorship appointment at FAMU (FAMU: Florida A&M University) College of Pharmacy.
Laura Fletcher, Executive Assistant Institutional Research:
Laura is an Executive Assistant in the Institutional Research Department at Pensacola State College who enjoys serving others by making an executive’s job easier. Laura is a graduate of Mitchell College in Connecticut with an A.S. in Business and Secretarial Administration and an alumna of PSC (Pensacola State College). In her spare time, she enjoys needlepoint, exercising, and loves the beach. Laura joined PSC as an employee in August 2018.
Mary Graves, Senior Coordinator, Research and Reporting:
Mary Graves, Senior Coordinator, Research and Reporting at Pensacola State College. She has been a Pensacola State College employee for over 27 years. First as an Administrative Secretary at the Warrington Campus, then as a Senior Systems Analyst in the MIS (Management Information Systems) department, and most currently as a Senior Coordinator in the Institutional Research Department.
Her primary duties involve state-related reporting and she works with various departments throughout the college, assisting them with research and reporting.
Ms. Graves was born and raised in Italy until her family immigrated to New York State in the ’70s. She is married and has one daughter, two step-children, and 6 grandchildren. She loves to travel and spend time with her family.
Neil Gonzales, Director, Institutional Research:
Neil Gonzales is the current Director, Institutional Research at Pensacola State College. A foreign war combat U.S. Army veteran, Neil understands how to handle stress and get the job done. His military experience had helped him work well in a team or complete projects individually. Afterward, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration.
In September 2019, Neil started working at Pensacola State College as a Research Analyst. Within one year, he was promoted to Research Analyst II/Career and Technical Education Data Liaison. Then, within the subsequent year, he was again promoted to Senior Research Analyst. Presently, his duties include researching, analyzing, organizing, and presenting data reports for an array of Pensacola State College departments and community affiliations. Additionally, he does data research for grants, and accreditations create and analyze surveys via Question Pro, and establishes Tableau visual dashboards. He also uses SAS software to create and organize data projects. Neil also researches industry certifications for state reporting. He works hand-in-hand with the CTE (Career and Technical Education) department to identify and input students who earned an industry certification.
Meanwhile, Neil is an avid tennis player and a lover of art. His last NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) rating was 4.5. Being analytical and artistic helps him think out of the box, solve issues, and manage a plan for data reports. Finally, Neil has failed seven times as a dog foster. Because he wanted the best for the dogs, Neil decided to keep all seven fosters and has no plans on adopting or fostering more in the future.
Dr. Albaraa Basfar, Research Analyst:
Dr. Albaraa Basfar is the current Research Analyst at Pensacola State College. He earned a Master’s in Educational Research and Evaluation and a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Then he earned a Ph.D. in educational research and evaluation from Ohio University.
His background includes experience in data visualization, program evaluation, and quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method research. He is responsible for compiling, arranging, and presenting data reports for several communities and college departments at Pensacola State College. Additionally, he creates and analyzes surveys, Tableau visual dashboards, and conducts data research related to grants and accreditations, as well as organizes and creates data projects using SAS software.
Sam Smith, Coordinator, Workday Change Management:
Sam joined the team in September 2021 after graduating from Pensacola State College 16 years ago. As someone constantly seeking innovative and efficient ways of working, she felt like this brand-new position in Change Management was made for her.
Her creative and analytical mind has helped her become successful in communications and logistics. She has published over 200 articles with local publications: Pensacola News Journal, Inweekly, and Natural Awakenings magazine. In recent years she managed delivery services for food and freight from Pensacola to Destin. She is happy to be in an environment that not only welcomes change but supports it. This year brought other exciting opportunities for her, such as getting married and buying a condo with her husband. They have two cats and enjoy bowling and photography together.