Director of institutional research Cori Henderson uses data analysis and mentorship to help increase retention rates.
Though her career may deal primarily with figures and statistics, associate director of Institutional Research Dr. Cori Henderson ('13) is committed to maintaining Northern Kentucky University’s personal touch through one-on-one connection. As the former president of the university’s Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and a current staff regent, Henderson ensures that all members of the campus community have a voice.
Henderson came to NKU in 2011 to get her master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology and became a graduate assistant in the College of Education the following year before transferring to the Department of Institutional Research. She says that it was Dr. Philip Moberg, director of the I/O psychology program, who convinced her NKU was the right place for her to study.
“He took me around campus, and we had lunch together, and I could just tell that NKU was about that one-on-one personal type of relationship with students,” she says. “He’s been a really great person to work with. He has also helped me prepare for my doctoral degree as well.”
When she served as BFSA president from 2019-21, Henderson sought to extend that same mentorship to current students, helping to establish NKU’s Students to Scholars program: an initiative to improve retention rates of Black sophomore students through scholarships, internships and support.
“Being a part of that program has been really rewarding,” Henderson says. “NKU has allowed me to flourish and be a part of a variety of different things here on campus. Traditionally, I don't have a lot of opportunities to work one-on-one with students within my job, but in other avenues, I've been able to have that kind of connection. It has been really nice to be able to be that support for our staff.”
As a staff regent, Henderson gets to continue her advocacy on a wider scale.
“It has given me the opportunity to hear the staff’s concerns, as well as their thoughts, suggestions and recommendations about how we can better serve our students,” she says.
Henderson was hired full time by the university in 2014 and was promoted to assistant director of her department in 2017. Though she says she hadn’t thought about pursuing institutional research before working as a graduate assistant, Henderson appreciates that the position allows her to combine her love for statistics and belief in higher education.
“Generally, institutional research is responsible for a lot of the external reporting as well as internal reporting on campus,” she says. “This includes your institutional effectiveness, so that may mean some of your state reporting or degrees and enrollments, student credit hours, as well as any type of reporting that might be needed internally, like from our cabinet, deans or other constituents that we work with on campus.”
Over the past decade that Henderson has been a part of NKU’s community, Henderson admires NKU’s commitment to stay true to itself and prioritize the needs of its students as the university has grown.
“I love being able to work with our institutional data just to have an impact on student success. That's the fun part about it,” she says. “I've kind of gotten to see the HIC building come to life since I’ve been here. We've of course started our accelerated online programming since I've been here, and I’ve been able to see that shift in our demographics of students and we serve. So it's been just a lot of really good growth. We are always about wanting to make sure that we're helping and supporting our students.”