Our mission is to provide data, expertise, analyses, and staffing necessary to support the University's planning, institutional research, and university assessment committees and processes.

The Office of Planning and Analysis supports the University's leaders and strategic planning processes by providing objective, accurate, and timely information, analysis, and advice to inform decision-making and resource allocation processes. In addition, the Office conducts studies that describe, analyze, and evaluate the operations and outcomes of the University and maintains an electronically accessible database of institutional trends.

Responsibilities and Activities

The Office of Planning and Analysis (OPA) serves several internal and external constituencies. OPA is the source for official university statistics, based on our databases of student and employee data.

Internal Requests

OPA provides statistics for a wide on-campus constituency, such as students writing class reports or ASMSU proposals, faculty developing grant proposals or trend studies for particular courses, and administrators planning resource allocation. OPA works closely with the Registrar's Office, the Office of Student Success, HumanResources, the Office of Institutional Equity, Career Services, Athletics, Admissions, and Communications and Public Affairs to design research projects, provide data, and conduct analyses.

The Office of Planning and Analysis provides information for the five Councils created by the President. This information comes in the form of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for academic departments, Delaware Study for comparative cost and productivity data, and other ad hoc reports.

External Requests

OPA provides data for over 100 surveys sent to MSU annually. Off-campus requestors of institutional statistics include local news media, the Commissioner for Higher Education, the Governor's Office of Budget and Program Planning, federal agencies, and other colleges and universities. OPA regularly prepares reports for the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the College and University Professionals Association (CUPA), the Delaware Studies of Instructional Costs/Productivity and of Faculty Activity, and Oklahoma State University's annual faculty salary survey (accessible only to MSU). The Common Data Set (CDS), a format developed by four major guidebook publishers, which has become the de facto standard for basic college reporting, is available online.

The Office of Planning and Analysis (OPA) reports to the President, and the Director is a member of the President's Executive Council.

Office of Planning & Analysis Staff

Chris Fastnow, Ph.D.

Director, [email protected]

  • Provide leadership and guidance for the University Planning and Analysis Office
  • Chair of the Planning Council
  • Develop and propose policies, procedures, and/or new initiatives designed to enhance the processes and outcomes of various activities including enrollment management, space management, strategic priority action plans, annual operating budgets, institutional effectiveness and efficiency, and assessment of return on program investments
  • Collaborate with campus CEOs and IR professionals on four-campus solutions for planning and institutional research needs
  • Direct the collection, analysis, and presentation of institutional and/or comparative data that are used to support and enhance policy formation and decision-making
  • Direct the reporting of all institutional data required by Federal, State, and accreditation agencies and the Board of Regents as well as by campus administrators and committees
  • Design statistical strategies for answering questions about Montana State University faculty, staff, students, and alumni
  • Consult on survey design and analysis for campus constituents

Ian C.P. Godwin, Ed.D.

Associate Director, [email protected]

  • Serve as a resource for planning, analysis, and data reporting for the President and Vice Presidents, the University’s governance councils and committees, and other decision-makers and university programs
  • Direct and participate in the collection and reporting of data on progress on the University’s Strategic Plan and NWCCU Accreditation
  • Oversee and/or participate in the collection, analysis, and presentation of institutional and/or comparative data (e.g. faculty activity reporting, Academic Analytics, etc.) that are used to support and enhance planning, budgeting, policy, and other decision-making
  • Serve as project director for Activity Insight (faculty productivity reporting tool)
  • Propose and implement analytical and assessment projects
  • Represent the President's Office and OPA on university committees as assigned
  • In the absence of the Director, direct the operations of OPA

Rebecca Belou, M.P.A.

Senior Data Scientist, [email protected]

  • Equity data analyst 
  • OPA Contact for the Delaware Studies, CUPA-HR, OSU, GSS, and other employee surveys
  • Provide a variety of ad hoc and term-by-term reports that present academic, human resource, and financial data for an assortment of committees, departments, and faculty members as well as other extramural requestors for MSU information
  • Maintain Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reports
  • Design statistical strategies for answering questions about Montana State University faculty, staff, students, and alumni

Dustin Dickerson, M.S.

Data Scientist, [email protected]

  • OPA Contact for Division of Student Success
  • Provide ad hoc analytical support on request and in collaboration with requester, OPA staff, and other university offices
  • Design statistical strategies for answering questions about Montana State University faculty, staff, students, and alumni
  • Create and maintain both internal and public-facing visualizations to highlight institutional trends over time
  • Prepare standard federal, state, and university reports 

Terry Dysart

Research Analyst, [email protected]

  • Provide institutional data for online reports including Quick Facts, Common Data Set, and Trend Data
  • Responsible for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports for the National Center for Education Statistics
  • Respond to requests for university information from national sources such as U.S. News & World Report, Peterson's Guide to Graduate Schools, Chronicle Guidance, College Board, and the National Science Foundation
  • Design statistical strategies for answering questions about Montana State University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and graduates
  • Design and maintain website for the Office of Planning and Analysis and help generate and maintain the facts and stats therein

Ian Johnson

Data Scientist, [email protected]

  • Primary OPA contact for HR/employee data
  • Develop and maintain Human Resources metrics and indicators related to
    Head-count, Job-count, and FTE Sums
    Job-type classification
  • Fulfill HR data requests related to
    Ad-hoc internal projects
    OCHE reporting
    State and Federal reporting
    FOIA requests
  • Data wrangler, visualizer, and pipeline developer

Tonya Lauriski-Karriker

Senior Data Scientist, [email protected]

  • Identify student populations for various student success programs and research projects
  • Develop statistical models for prediction of student outcomes
  • Implement analyses to evaluate and answer questions about Montana State University programs and students
  • Build and maintain reports to track program metrics and other student related outcomes

Miranda Bly

Administrative Associate, [email protected]

  • Provides support to data analysts
  • Maintains Planning & Analysis and Planning Council webpages
  • Processes degree history forms