The DARE Dashboard: Innovative Approaches to Data Transparency

By Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman

Picture of Elizabeth Hordge Freeman smiling

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman is an associate professor of sociology and senior advisor to the president and provost for diversity and inclusion.

“For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

THESE STIRRING WORDS, written and spoken by Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration ceremony, reminded Americans that our ability to forge a more equitable future requires courage to “see” and confront injustice. At the University of South Florida, we have increasingly relied on data to “see” racial and gender disparities and identify opportunities for growth. In August 2020, Provost Ralph Wilcox tasked me with developing the Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity Dashboard, in order to identify systemic inequities, establish new goals and track our progress across all three campuses. Fitting of this bold effort at institutional self-assessment, the dashboard is referred to as the DARE dashboard.

To be sure, our ultimate goal has never been to simply compile standard data, but rather to consider new data, analyze the data in innovative ways, and apply this data to embed equitable practices across campus. In partnership with the Office of Decision Support, led by Valeria Garcia ’00 and Terri Chisolm, our teams have worked to execute the DARE dashboards, which are organized around four key quadrants: access, achievement, belonging, and engagement. The DARE dashboards are distinct because of their magnitude, as they will eventually include comprehensive data about student, faculty, staff, academic and institutional units. The DARE dashboards also leverage multiple survey data and sources of data that reflect a wide range of metrics (including those related to perception of safety, quality of advising, perceptions of diversity). These data are often under-utilized, but we believe they offer a more holistic understanding of people’s sense of inclusion on campus. Collectively, these data should inform the work of chairs, deans and senior administrators so inclusive excellence is prioritized, measured and managed.

After the launch of Phase 1 of the student dashboards, we noted the need for targeted efforts to bridge the recruitment gap for Black student undergraduate enrollment and programs to address the low enrollment of Latino students in graduate school. Moreover, our findings about campus culture have informed our intentional cultivation of spaces for intellectual exchange, and the creation of programs that will teach all USF community members to acknowledge inequities and respond in productive ways. I invite you to visit USF’s anti-racism page to view the DARE dashboards and learn about the programs, workshops and progress updates.

The innovations of the DARE dashboards notwithstanding, the partnership between the anti-racism initiative and the Office of Decision Support reflects a model for how to build institutional capacity through synergistic collaborations across different units and across traditional faculty and staff boundaries. With the launch of an updated Survey Research Hub, which brings together several campus data sets, the Office of Decision Support has created the infrastructure for the anti-racism initiative and other entities to walk bravely toward a new future together!