Vice President of Effectiveness and Accountability, Austin Community College
Office Representing: Institutional Research
Soon Merz Flynn is the vice president for effectiveness and accountability at Austin Community College, where she is responsible for strategic planning and institutional effectiveness. She has been at Austin Community College since 2004, but has worked in higher education for over 30 years in various sectors. Her experience includes the community college, university, and state governing/coordinating board sectors. She is active in the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and the Texas Association for Institutional Research (TAIR) and has served on national committees and panels associated with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the National Student Clearinghouse, and the National Community College Benchmark Project (NCCBP). She served for 11 years as a trainer for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and is currently an Achieving the Dream data coach. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, a bachelor's in General Business from the University of Central Texas, and an associate degree in General Education from Central Texas College.
How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?
"I started my institutional research career at the state level and provided support for policy decisions. In that role, I had to understand higher education issues in order to provide appropriate data support. When I began working at the institutional level, I found the same need. A critical role for institutional research and effectiveness professionals is to understand the issues affecting higher education decisions both internally and externally."
Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?
"I have been fortunate to have served on national committees for the Department of Education, the National Student Clearinghouse, and the National Community College Benchmark Project and understand how important it is to have an opportunity to provide input into decisions that affect higher education. I have had the opportunity to work with many different types of institutions in my career and I believe that gives me a broad understanding of some of the challenges facing these institutions. I wanted to be able to share the insights I've gained from my experiences and to, in a small way, provide a voice for those who are not at the table."
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