Get It Done and Get It Right

Carrie Schneider
Carrie Schneider

Carrie Schneider is a natural as director of institutional research and planning

According to Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, research is the “diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject to discover or revise facts, theories and applications.” In her job as director of institutional research and planning at Dakota County Technical College, Carrie Schneider typifies diligence and thrives on discovery. Her workaday philosophy is disarmingly simple: “Get it done and get it right.” Carrie combines that approach with a built-in knack for conducting research, but she also brings a friendly, collaborative nature to her job, which makes her contribution to the college all the more valuable.

“I like finding answers that solve problems,” she said. “Research provides a framework for why things happen. I enjoy finding information that’s meaningful and adds order and structure.”

A lifelong resident of Hastings, Minn., Carrie, 31, is a 2001 graduate of Hastings High School. As a senior, she was a full-time PSEO student at Inver Hills Community College. She loved the experience, focusing on general education courses and acclimating to life on a college campus.

Carrie on hiking trail to Manoa Falls on Oahu just outside Honolulu, Hawaii

Carrie went on to St. Catherine University (at the time the College of St. Catherine). She studied chemistry and criminal justice before settling on psychology and sociology against the advice of her older sister, Amy, who was a psychology major at the time.

“I wound up taking a statistics class—and I loved it,” Carrie said. “I became a peer tutor in the subject and really started to learn about the research involved in statistical analysis.”

While at St. Kate’s, Carrie belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, Psi Chi and the Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society. She also worked as a resident advisor and was promoted to assistant coordinator in Residence Life, monitoring facility conditions for 200 residence hall rooms plus common areas as well as 90 on-campus apartments. She graduated with honors from St. Kate’s in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology.

Her first job after college was as a junior analyst at Minnesota Opinion Research, Inc., or MORI, in Minneapolis. She was eventually promoted to research director. At MORI, Carrie was required to document her work output in 15-minute increments, a procedure that was unexpected, but eventually became part of her routine.

Carrie worked at Readex Research in Stillwater, Minn., as a senior project director for a year before applying for her current position at DCTC in 2009. “I knew I wanted to work and do research in a higher education setting even as far back as St. Kate’s,” she said. “I always kept that idea in mind.”

2013 Gobble Gait 8K (left to right) Carrie’s stepmom Renee, stepsister Megan, stepbrother Ryan and dad Scott

She passed the first interview and got a second, the latter involving an on-the-spot research project followed by a presentation to college administrators, including the president. She aced the challenge and got the job.

“For a while when I first started at DCTC, I continued keeping track of my work in fifteen-minute intervals even though that wasn’t required,” Carrie recalled with a smile. “In my job, I handle a lot of research requests, some taking longer than others, and I’m also more involved in overall planning for the institution. One thing I love about DCTC is how devoted staff and faculty are to helping students. I really like that we are focused on education for employment.”

Carrie meets with other institutional research professionals in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system as a member of the IR Group, which serves as a sounding board for important system-wide projects, including the Strategic Framework Performance Metrics.

Carrie fishing on Sand Lake in Hackensack, Minn., with father-in-law, Dave

Carrie pointed out that her mom, Kelly Daggett, once worked for the college when it was part of Intermediate School District 917, sharing an office with Diane Frandrup, who continues to work for DCTC as registration coordinator. Lynda McPherson, also still with the college as assistant to the director of operations, remembers seeing Carrie as a little girl with her mom in Hastings. Carrie’s stepbrother, Ryan, is enrolled in the Welding Technology program at DCTC.

In her free time, Carrie loves to run. She ran the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon, exceeding her target time by completing the 26.2-mile course in just over four and a half hours. She also enjoys sewing patchwork quilts, including time-intensive jellyroll quilts. Her husband, Matt, is an IBEW journeyman electrician who has a passion for new technology. “Matt is always getting the latest smart phone,” Carrie said. “I benefit because I get his hand-me-downs.”

Carrie and Matt have a son, Noah, a 16-month-old toddler. “I love to sing to Noah,” Carrie said. “My favorite is singing all the states in alphabetical order. We also play peek-a-boo and airplane, but he drools on me when we play airplane.”

For more information about institutional research and planning at DCTC, contact:
Carrie and Matt with Noah