Mark Duslak earned his certificate in Institutional Research, as well as a Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration. As he pursued his studies in the doctoral program, he realized that he could earn his certificate in Institutional Research by adding a few more classes. We interviewed Mark to learn more about his academic journey, professional career and future aspirations.
Why did you choose the Institutional Research Certificate program at FSU?
MD: Primarily, I was excited for the connections I could make with faculty, who were experienced and passionate about the field of Institutional Research. From a pragmatic standpoint, I was already enrolled in the Ed. D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. This certificate required only a few additional courses beyond my elective courses.
What are your past/current areas of research?
Mark Duslak: My early research interests involved quantitatively exploring the communication dynamic between K-12 school counselors and principals. After that project, I began a multi-year study involving collaborative autoethnography with a focus on the professional identity development of academic advisors. My most recent publication explored higher education administrator’s views of the role of academic advisors.
What is your current professional role and organization?
MD: I am the Director of Process Improvement, Institutional Research, and Compliance at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, Florida. I’ve been in this position for 2 months. Prior to that, I was the Associate Dean of Students.
What coursework did you find most valuable in your continued work in education research?
MD: Introduction to Institutional Research, Data Driven Decision Making, and the Practicum were the most valuable courses for me. They informed my work as a supervisor new to the field of Institutional Research and helped guide our development of the mission and vision of this newly reformed department. It was helpful to have instructors who worked in the IR field and could provide real-world examples of the concepts illustrated in these courses. These courses raised my confidence in pursuing a career in IR.
What advice or opinions about the IR Certificate would you want to give program to a prospective student?
MD: Even if you do not have an immediate interest in a career in IR, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained in this Certificate program are applicable to a host of other careers. For example, teachers, administrators, and executive-level decision makers need to understand how data informed decision-making works. In fact, gaining this knowledge has the potential to enhance any career path. Also, as advice to a new professional in IR, I would recommend gaining some functional knowledge of data structures and data query programming language (e.g. SQL).