OC official takes on new role

Brian Jones has taken on the role of associate vice president for Institutional Effectiveness at Odessa College. (Courtesy Photo)

A familiar face is taking on the role of associate vice president for Institutional Effectiveness at Odessa College.

Brian Jones, who was most recently director of Professional Learning, has been with OC since 2017 starting off as an adjunct instructor teaching an education course, Intro to Special Populations. He took on his most recent role in November.

“After teaching for two years, I really wanted the experience of working here full time and I was hired on as the director of Professional Learning in 2019,” Jones said.

His previous position will help him somewhat with this new one, but it is a bit different.

“The role of IE (Institutional Effectiveness) is providing accurate data to help with the institutional needs, so it’s about decision making. But there was a bit of decision making that happened in my role as an executive director for Professional Learning. … There’s a bit of transfer, but for the most part, it’s a completely different role that’s around assessment accreditation, looking at strategic planning, reporting data, analyzing data. It’s a completely different animal,” Jones said.

He added that he loves the experience of serving at OC.

“I was a student here in 2002. As a first-generation college student, Odessa College gave me the opportunity to pursue higher ed. From here I graduated … went to Texas Tech and came back. It’s full circle for me because, again, learning as a student and understanding some of the gaps that students experience has really provided a full circle experience for me and being able to get back on this level, it’s very important,” Jones said.

Jones worked at Ector County ISD in various capacities before joining Odessa College. He added that OC has a culture of making data-informed decisions.

“I would say data-driven decision making is important where we make our investments, where we make predictions; predictions, projections, all of those pieces determine whether or not we’re moving the needle forward. As … data becomes available, we have to be able to pivot and to use that data to support our mission of being the top-rated community college in the nation for student success,” Jones said.

“Every bit of this role is crucial because we have to look at what we’re doing, what may be. I say this often: What some consider the status quo, we can’t be okay with that. We have to be disruptors and be innovators to see what we can do to ensure that our college-going culture, our college-going rate is increased. This office looks at that data so that we can make informed decisions across the institution to help move the needle so that all students, disenfranchised populations, marginalized groups can have an equal opportunity to have a college experience and to attain a degree or credential of value as we’re attempting to build a Talent Strong Texas,” he added.

Jones said the strategic plan for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is to build a Talent Strong Texas.

“We are the pipeline to ensure that our students gain the skills that they need so that they can go out into the workforce and earn a livable wage, a sustaining wage, a wage that can really be that upward mobility that their family needs that will get them out of poverty,” Jones said.

He added that the data piece is important because when they look at programs, the college needs to know its programs are impactful.

“We look at all of those data sets, the labor market data information that is provided from the Coordinating Board, from the Texas Workforce Commission, from TEA (Texas Education Agency). We try to triangulate those data sources to see what we can do to be more impactful in our work so that we are the best,” Jones said.

As a kid, he said his parents would buy him toys like cars and he would take them apart and put them back together.

“I love learning about the inner workings of something; some type of system and my doctoral work is in organizational leadership. I love looking at the structures, the systems of organizations to see how we can improve processes because, again, if we do the same thing that we’ve always done, we never know what the outcome’s going to be unless we make some progressive change,” Jones said.

“Going back when I started my foray into higher education, I didn’t think that I would be in this role but as I started looking at data more critically, we all serve in that role. We all look at data … Whenever we have an ad campaign, what are the click rates? How often do people visit the website? What generates the most traffic. My department in Professional Learning, what specific sessions were of more interest? Looking at that data, we make informed decisions about how we do our business and we are better because of it. … I didn’t think initially that this will be a role, but as I’ve grown in my leadership aspects, I’ve seen data-based decision making in almost every aspect of what I’ve been doing,” he added.

Jones also is music minister at Life Challenge Church in Odessa.

Originally from New Orleans, La., Jones earned an associate degree from OC. He took a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in educational leadership and music, both from Texas Tech University. He earned an educational leadership and principal certification from Lamar University; and is working on his doctoral degree in organizational leadership from Abilene Christian University.

He took a pause in his doctoral work because he was coming into his new role at OC.

“But I’m excited to be almost done,” Jones said.

He and his wife, Marie, have two boys.