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Best Paper Award

From among the papers and presentations made at each SAIR Conference, a Best Paper is selected by a panel of reviewers appointed and chaired by the Member-At-Large responsible for handling awards. A plaque recognizing the SAIR Best Paper Award is presented at the SAIR Conference the following year. The Best Paper from the SAIR Conference is also scheduled at the AIR Forum following the SAIR Conference in further recognition of the presenter(s), the paper and SAIR. SAIR will provide a travel grant to the author or authors of the Best Paper to defray expenses to attend at the AIR Forum.

To Qualify: You must have written a research paper as part of a concurrent session presented at the 2023 SAIR Conference in Point Clear, AL. Papers without presentations will not be considered. The winner will be announced in early April.

To Apply: Formally submit your paper via email to Carley Dear (cdear2@umc.edu) by March 1, 2024. All papers should have a separate title page with the name of the author(s), followed by the actual paper with a title header. Your name should only appear on the title page to help ensure fair and anonymous judging.

The peer review process is as follows:
  • All papers will be blind judged by a panel of your SAIR peers. One paper will be chosen for the Best Paper Award.
  • Each paper will be graded on a 100-point scale, with the criteria below:
    • Contributes to collective IR/IE knowledge (10 points)
    • Considers the knowledge, interests, and expectations of members in IR/IE (10 points)
    • Writing is logical, coherent, and well-supported (20 points)
    • Writing is clear and concise (15 points)
    • Explores new ground; reevaluates or re-conceptualizes the known; or offers new translations, creative visions, interpretations, or understanding of the known (25 points)
    • Scholarship demonstrates rigor, as defined by AIR’s publication standards (20 points)
The award winner will receive:
  • Automatic acceptance for presentation at the 2024 AIR Forum: The chosen paper will be automatically accepted by the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) for presentation at the upcoming 2024 AIR Forum to be held May 28 – May 31, 2024 in Denver, Colorado.
  • The winner may be eligible for up to $1000 from SAIR/AIR to support travel to the 2024 AIR Forum.
  • Recognition at the 2024 SAIR Conference: The author will be formally recognized during the 2024 SAIR Conference Business Meeting and Awards Breakfast in Atlanta, GA.
Below is a list of past winners.

  • 2022: Kevin McMindes Putting Student Success Initiatives on the Map: A Framework to Inform Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • 2021: Bryn Bakoyema & Jim Purcell Opportunities and Barriers for Retaining Alabama's University Graduates
  • 2020: Esther Wilkinson
    First Year Retention Analysis: Summer Fall Full-Time, First Time in College Cohorts 2016-17 through 2018-19
  • 2019: Rex Gandy, Lynne Crosby, Andrew Luna, Daniel Kasper, and Sherry Kendrick
    Enrollment Projection Using Markov Chains: Detecting Leaky Pipes and the Bulge in the Boa
  • 2018: Samantha Bradley
    Conducting Markov Chain Enrollment Projections at a Publich Research University Using SAS – A Case Study
  • 2017: Ti Yan
    Program-level Peer Selection in Benchmarking Costs of Instruction
  • 2016: Karen Webber & Manuel González Canché
    “Is There a Gendered Path to Tenure?: Examining the Academic Trajectories of US Doctoral Recipients
  • 2015: Bobbie Frye
    The Propensity to Complete College Level Math among Developmental Math Completers in North Carolina Community Colleges
  • 2014: Marcos Velazquez
    The Relationship between Institutional Characteristics and First-Year Retention Rates
  • 2013: Peter Usinger
    Tracking Pathways to Success
  • 2012: Elayne Reiss
    Best Practices in Enrollment Modeling
  • 2011: Sandra Nicks Baker, Karen J. Price, & Mary Heuser
    Measuring Students’ Engagement on Campus: Are the NSSE Benchmarks an Appropriate Measure of Adult Students’ Engagement?
  • 2010: David Allen
    Academic Confidence and the Impact of a Living-Learning Community on Persistence: Implications for Institutional Research
  • 2009: Mary Harrington
    Make Your PowerPoints Sizzle, Not Fizzle
  • 2008: Gerald W. McLaughlin & Josetta S. McLaughlin
    Using Student Financial Status to Form Comparator Groups: A New Perspective
  • 2007: Ed Rugg, Donna Hutcheson, & Erik Bowe
    Retention, Progression & Graduation: Degree Completion Analysis and Six-Year Graduation Rates Tell Different Stories about a University’s Effectiveness in Graduating Its Students
  • 2006: Jon Gordon, Joe Ludlum, & Joseph Hoey
    Validating NSSE Against Student Outcomes: Are They Related?
  • 2005: Andrew L. Luna
    Using a Market Ratio Factor in Faculty Salary Equity Studies
  • 2004: Gary Pike
    The Dependability of NSSE Scalelets for College and Department-Level Assessment
  • 2003: Sharron Ronco & John Cahill
    Does It Matter Who’s in the Classroom? Effect of Instructor Type on Student Achievement, Satisfaction, and Retention
  • 2002: Andrew L. Luna
    Faculty Salary Equity Cases: Combining Statistics with the Law
  • 2001: Jon Acker, William Hughes, & William R. Fendley, Jr
    Implementing A Recursive Retention Assessment System for Engineering Programs
  • 2000: J. Joseph Hoey & Denise C. Gardner
    Learning Communities at Georgia Tech: Challenges and Implications from Developmental and Policy Perspectives
  • 1999: John Milam
    Cost Analysis of Online Courses
  • 1998: Lynn Williford
    Using Productivity Data in Faculty Salary Equity Analysis: Is it Worth the Effort?
  • 1997: Joseph Hoey, Denise C. Gardner, & Chris I. Ogilvie
    Validating Alumni Estimates of Educational Gains Through Employer Reports
  • 1996: Ginger Marine
    On the Outside Looking In: The College Attendance Decision Making Process for Rural Students
  • 1995: James Fredericks Volkwein & Bruce P. Szelest
    Factors Associated with Student Loan Default Among Different Racial Groups
  • 1994: Lynn Williford
    The Freshman Year: How do Personal Factors Influence Academic Success and Persistence
  • 1993: Timothy R. Sanford & Nerissa Rivera
    Parent’s Perception of Students’ Time to Degree
  • 1992: Julie K. Snyder, Patricia B. Hyer & Gerald W. McLaughlin
    Faculty Salary Equity: Issues and Options
  • 1991: Theresa Y. Smith
    Discipline Cost Indices and Their Applications
  • 1990: James O. Nichols & Lori A. Wolff
    The Status of Institutional Effectiveness at Institutions of Higher Education Within the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS): Findings of Visitation Teams, Extend of Implementation, and Factors Facilitating/Impeding Implementation
  • 1989: Craig Clagett
    The Presentation and Interpretation of data to Management
  • 1988 Alberto F. Cabrera, Jacob O. Stampen & W. Lee Hansen
    Ability to Pay and College Persistence: A Logistic Analysis
  • 1987: Thomas R. Cochran & Archer Gravely
    Measurement Issues in Student Evaluations of Instruction and Their Impact on Decision-Making
  • 1986: Nancy L. Valentine
    Factors Related to Attrition from Doctor of Education Programs
  • 1985: Delores Buford
    Focus Groups: A Tool for Institutional Research
  • 1984: Brenda Rogers
    The Use of Non-Cognitive Variables in the Prediction of Black Freshmen’s College Performance
  • 1982: Melodie Crystal
    The Sweep to the South: Fact or Fiction
  • 1981: James L. Morrison
    Policy Impact Analysis: Implications for Institutional Research
  • 1980: Timothy R. Sanford
    Helping, Admissions with Predicted Graduation Equations for Freshman Applicants
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The Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR) is dedicated to the advancement of research leading to improved understanding, planning, and operation of institutions of post-secondary education. SAIR provides a forum for the dissemination of information and interchange of ideas on problems of common interest in the field of institutional research. In addition, SAIR promotes the continued professional development of individuals engaging in institutional research and fosters the unity and cooperation among persons having interests and activities related to research.