"Susan Gailey initiated the first serious attempt by Johnson & Wales University to engage in data-driven research. She was tasked with the focused responsibility to provide the  research based facts that would underpin the development of a strategy to effectively re-distribute financial aid to (initially) maximize freshman enrollment…and later to apply the same principles to returning students. Sue’s research encompassed multi-campus, multi-state data and resulted in the development of more efficient and effective enrollment management plan. The enrollment management assignment spanned several years… as Sue’s research lead to additional fine-tuning of the strategy as each year’s results became final. 

The University experienced lower enrollment costs as a result…and more importantly, improved graduation rates considerably. This initial focused effort led to Sue establishing a formal institutional research function at the University. Sue is a self-starter who accomplished this work (initially) with little support. She also functions well as a member of a larger team and quickly earns the respect of team members.

I highly recommend Sue Gailey as a competent professional as well as a lady in every aspect of the word!"

John A. Yena 
Chairman Emeritus 
Past Chairman and President of the University System

Johnson & Wales University


"Sue, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the contributions that you have made to Johnson & Wales University.  The data and projects that you’ve managed, analyzed and interpreted have allowed the University to be financially successful while being able to continue to make decisions that have been in the best interest of our students, both academically and personally. As you know, maybe better than any of us, our students face significant academic and financial challenges. You have been one of the key individuals that has allowed us to balance the students’ challenges with the financial and administrative challenges that the University faces as a whole.  You have significant insight into the business of recruiting and retaining students, at J&W in particular but also in higher education in general. In that regard you have also been instrumental in helping me and other key university managers gain the same level of insight into these matters.

You have made major contributions as a significant and respected member of various teams. The Enrollment Management Team, the Strategic Enrollment Team and the Student Debt Management Team are just a few. In all of these cases team members looked to you for the leadership needed in the area of data management, analysis and interpretation resulting in data-based solutions to the challenges that we’ve faced. However, above and beyond the data you have developed in yourself as well as in many of us the inherent ability and the talent to just sense, and in the end to know what strategies work and make sense and those that don’t in a given set of circumstances. Johnson & Wales University is clearly a better place for your having been here. We will miss your ongoing contributions, although don’t be surprised if we track you down with a few of questions from time to tome.  We will also personally miss you as a wonderful coworker."

Bill McArdle
Past Chief Financial Officer
Johnson & Wales University

"It was my pleasure to work with Susan on strategic enrollment objectives for Johnson & Wales University. It was our goal to create new selectivity initiatives and leverage financial awarding to our new and returning students. As a member of our strategic enrollment team, Susan was integral in helping us create the following:

- Data-driven enrollment forecasts using multiple methods 
- Data-driven analysis of the success of recruiting strategies such as student search 
- Applicant profiles that predict graduation at time of acceptance
- Financial aid awarding to enroll and retain students using formulas based on academic preparation and ability to pay in a hybrid of merit- and need-based aid
- Constant tracking of progress during the recruiting cycle, knowing what is important to track, and intervening when needed 

I worked with Susan for well over a decade and during that time we accomplished many objectives that has allowed Johnson & Wales to increase its retention rates and, ultimately, its graduation rates." 

Kenneth Di Saia
Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management
Johnson & Wales University

"Susan started the institutional research function at Johnson & Wales University. Beyond number crunching, she put the “research” into institutional research. She worked with people to assess issues and information needs and form a Data Library of longitudinal data files of accepted applicants tracked to graduation.

In essence, Susan told us what we needed to know in order to affect outcomes of interest to us. She showed us what to look for. She took the mystery out of what was important to track, assess and report. She identified and addressed University issues through data analysis, integrated results with qualitative information about the University System and with an understanding of higher education issues and trends. Her work evolved to inform strategic plans, policies and decisions to the extent of shaping strategic direction. She developed a coherent and comprehensive body of data-based knowledge of the University System that integrated what is important to us. Susan was the “go to” person for direction. 

Susan first proved her value in the effective and efficient redistribution of financial aid to enroll students in our multi-college, multi-campus system in which critical mass is essential. She identified the need to improve the quality of the student body and developed a profile of the Best Fit student to affect acceptance decisions, which earned her a chair at the table of the University’s Enrollment Management Team consisting of senior and middle managers. She was an important contributor to first-time NEASC accreditation, and subsequent reaccreditations, as she had historic knowledge of the quantitative and qualitative aspects of our development. Ultimately, Susan’s work improved the quality of our student body, controlled our discount rate, and improved academic performance and graduation rates to benefit both our students and our viability. 

As Dean of International Recruiting and Admissions I asked Susan to be a member of my subsidiary team for International Enrollment Management knowing that she would be a bottom-line, contributing member in fulfilling our strategic goal of increasing international undergrad enrollment, while holding the 50% line on our graduate school. Her research enlightened our observations and assessments about undergraduate international enrollment management so we could plan effective strategies and tactics.

In addition to my high respect for Susan’s expertise in producing bottom-line results and positively affecting the course of the University, I want to say that she was a great pleasure to work with."

Manny Tavares
 Dean of International Recruitment & Admissions
Johnson & Wales University

"Susan and I worked together several times on data collection for and analysis of educational outcomes at Berklee. She was fantastic to work with: clear, patient and thorough. She helped advance some initiatives we were working on because of her targeted research strategies. We miss her at Berklee, I can recommend her without reservation: a complete professional."

Joseph Mulholland
Department Chairman
Berklee College of Music

"I highly recommend Susan Coia Gailey. While at Johnson and Wales University, I had the pleasure of working with Sue for five years on the development and enhancement of an in-house developed Enrollment Management System. As the director of Institutional Research, Sue held the vision of “the power of the data”. Although institutional data existed in several departments, it was Sue’s ability to see the bigger picture - how the aggregate could yield a sum greater than its parts. Susan conceived of, and developed from scratch, a Data Library of years of historic institutional data that she used to inform strategic direction and support strategic planning for the University System. As the programmer assigned to the project, it was important to work with someone who knew exactly what information they wanted, and who could effectively communicate those needs. With a high degree of expertise and an approachable manner, Sue is in a position to make an immediate contribution to an Institutional Research, Assessment and Reporting system for any institution." 

Diane Desmond
Past Programmer, Information Technology
Johnson & Wales University

"In short, Susan makes things happen. Susan has a firm grasp of the "big-picture" yet that doesn't interfere with her results-oriented approach."

Pedro Verdugo
Web Developer, Technology
Berklee College of Music

"Very interesting topic - particularly interested in how student success is tied to ROI of Alumni"

Presentation – Use Learning Assessment Results with the Aid of Institutional Research:
Practice Learning & Enrollment Management
North Atlantic Regional Conference, Society for College & University Planning

March 2014


"Thanks! An important topic"

Presentation – Use Learning Assessment Results with the Aid of Institutional Research:
Practice Learning & Enrollment Management
North Atlantic Regional Conference, Society for College & University Planning

March 2014

 "Thanks to Susan Coia-Gailey for her excellent contribution to the new #HigherEducation book ‘Margins & Missions... Not Moonshots: Pathways to Better U.S. Higher Education.’ It was a hard and time-consuming effort and we appreciated working with Susan.  The consummate pro.”

Steve Kayser
Compass Higher Education Consulting
August 2015


"Susan Coia-Gailey wrote a very interesting article several years ago about why 'you are not getting any research from your IR office' - (I am paraphrasing) ... it is one of the best articles about positioning IR that I have read.  Research and analytical skills should be at the heart of an IR office, and the expectations for a small office to go beyond reportings needs institutional support (including someone with technical skills) but technical skills should not be driving the hiring if it is IR you want (and need)."

Member Comment from AIR Article, Hring an IR Direction: Advice From The Field
October 2015