Amber Atkinson dives deep into the data
For Amber Atkinson, the numbers tell a story.
Atkinson is a business intelligence/research analyst in the Office of Institutional Research. Prior to that, she worked with data as a program coordinator in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. That data can range from admissions and enrollment management to class scheduling and facilities information.
“There is a common thread of communication,” she said. “Data tells a story, and you have to be able to communicate it to the right people for its intended purpose. Telling those stories and helping people figure out what they need is what I’m interested in.”
But the stories Atkinson puts together didn’t initially start with numbers. They started with words.
Atkinson earned both her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in English education from UGA. After graduation, she decided to take a different path in education and accepted a position in advising in the College of Education. Her path since then weaves together students, technology and data. She helped coordinate the college’s online program in special education, which eventually expanded to work on college-wide teacher preparation programs.
“I like that there are so many different problems to solve,” she said. “I like having that room to grow and try different things and work with different people.”
In her current role, Atkinson is partnered with the Division of Student Affairs. She’s working with them to collect and analyze data for their departmental and program requests as well as determine processes to systemize that data collection, which helps inform their assessments and strategic and annual plans. She also wants to look at how they’re not using data—are there additional questions that could be asked?
The data Atkinson collects and analyzes supports both big picture tasks like external reporting and smaller, ad hoc requests to help with departments’ planning and decision making. One of the first projects she worked on was a draft for the Peterson’s Survey, which focuses on undergraduate programs. She’s also worked on a request for data on course enrollments over time to see if enough seats are offered in required classes at regular enough intervals.
“I’ve always thought that my work sits in the crossroads of data, technology and students,” she said. “Now it’s merging to the crossroads of data, technology and the university’s mission. So, the question is, how can I inhabit that space at the crossroads in the best way possible? How can I be service-oriented and achieve those goals?”
In addition to her daily work, Atkinson has served on the TEDxUGA Advisory Council for a number of years. She also recently finished her certificate in instructional design.
Outside of work, Atkinson likes to hike, cook and read murder mystery novels. Most of her time is spent with her young children and husband, Brian, whom she met as an undergraduate in a Shakespeare class in Park Hall. Their mutual love for UGA continues—he works in the School of Law, and the family enjoys attending football games and gymnastic meets.
In all that she does, Atkinson wants to stay true to UGA’s mission.
“I like people who are open to change and thinking outside of the box and innovation and things we can do differently to achieve the mission,” she said. “I’m excited for a new experience and new adventure.”