Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition: April 18, 2001: Kevin Lamb Heads Analytical Team
Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition
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Goin' Buggy!

CMRI Reorganizes

Graduate Programs Earn High Marks

Daniel Resnick Earns H&SS Award

Meeting of the Minds Scheduled for May 9

Carnegie Science Center Rewards Excellence

Kevin Lamb Heads Analytical Team

Whitaker and Shull

Drama Presents Largest Stage Production Ever

$1.8 Million Given for New Software Center

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Kevin Lamb
Kevin Lamb Heads Analytical Team That Helps University Decision Makers

Behind many of the major decisions made at the university, such as the development of the new campus master plan, financial aid policies for entering freshmen and the pursuit of a branch campus in Silicon Valley, sits a seven-member team of expert analysts and trouble shooters led by Director of Planning Services Kevin Lamb.

Lamb's group at 407 South Craig Street includes Assistant Director Alex MacPherson, process analysts Linda Schmidt and Diane Gibson, planning analysts Melissa Baker and Pinar Basim, administrative assistant Gina Sapienza and graduate work-study student Russ O'Lare.

Together they focus on three major areas-institutional research, campus and space planning, and administrative process improvements. The office works under Jeff Bolton, vice president for business and planning and chief financial officer.

"We're all about providing just-in-time data analysis, strategic and campus planning support, and expert trouble shooting for the senior administration, colleges and departments," said Lamb, who joined Carnegie Mellon eight years ago. "We gather data, do analysis and pass information along that helps decision makers."

"Kevin manages all three areas of the office with great efficiency and expertise," Baker said. "He is a multi-tasker, so he helps the office to realize that we can handle anything, regardless of complexity and time constraints. Kevin tackles everything from the campus master plan to ad hoc data requests."

The information the Planning Office provides to university decision makers is vast, covering admissions, student life, teaching, budgets, strategic planning and campus facilities. The office annually publishes an online Factbook ( that contains data about the university, including information on the student population, teaching and academic support, faculty and staff, alumni, finances, and space and facilities.

Other annual institutional research responsibilities include reporting to the state and federal government and providing information for the more than 50 higher education surveys and guidebooks that are published, such as the U.S. News & World Report magazine's annual polls of undergraduate and graduate programs.

MacPherson, who joined the staff about four years ago, leads the institutional research effort. A key area is his work to help the Enrollment Strategy Group with its overall financial aid strategies. The enrollment group is led by Vice President for Enrollment Bill Elliott.

"It's not an exact science, but over the years Planning Services has helped to develop a market intelligence regarding potential students," MacPherson said.

He said based on the characteristics of students, such as their academic and non-academic records and leadership potential, the strategy group tries to project the type of aid package necessary to successfully recruit them.

"The Enrollment Group makes the decisions on individual students. We help them with the overall strategy of how to allocate financial aid dollars," MacPherson said.

Another institutional research area is the student survey program, in which students are annually polled about their likes and dislikes regarding many aspects of the university.

"We are doing some breakthrough work on understanding how students feel about their experience at Carnegie Mellon," Lamb said. "Alex and Pinar have taken this effort to new levels, providing insights that can affect policies and practices throughout the university that relate to student success here."

When it comes to campus planning and facilities, Lamb and his staff work closely with Facilities Management Services (FMS) and University Architect Paul Tellers. In collaboration with academic and administrative units, the Planning Office identifies space that can meet new or expanding program requirements and then works with FMS to ensure those requirements are met.

Over the last two years Lamb and Tellers have been busy with the new campus master plan.

"Kevin took the lead in gathering and analyzing information on how the university will change in the next 20 years," Tellers said. "I took the lead in finding physical solutions to the proposed changes."

Developed by a committee of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students, the campus master plan, a blueprint for campus construction over the next 20 years, was presented to the Board of Trustees last May. Today it is in the evaluation stage.

"It will gradually transform the campus and improve the quality of life at Carnegie Mellon," Lamb said. "The plan is about buildings and a lot more. It focuses on making the campus a more pedestrian- engaging, green environment-something that is critical for attracting students, faculty and staff."

An integral element of the plan is eliminating most surface parking to create building sites and green spaces for pedestrian gardens and walkways. The plan also calls for narrowing Forbes Avenue.

"It's a big idea, but creating a master plan is the time for bold thinking," Lamb said. "Just imagine walking along Forbes Avenue on a generous sidewalk with rows of trees flanking each side of the road separating you from traffic that has been calmed to the posted 25 miles per hour speed limit."

President Jared L. Cohon said the Planning Office has done an outstanding job in creating the master plan.

"Kevin's strong commitment to include all campus voices made development of the master plan an inclusive process and resulted in a compelling blueprint for our future," Cohon said.

The Silicon Valley initiative is also still in the planning stages. In January 2000, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA Ames Research Center to establish a partnership to explore building a branch campus at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif., about 40 miles south of San Francisco.

"We're well into a year with it and it will be another year before we have a firm plan and lease agreement," Lamb said. "We have to address a lot of environmental, political, economic and land-use issues."

Lamb said it is still too soon to know what the outcome will be, but the Planning Office will continue to gather information and do analyses that will help the senior administration to make a "thoroughly informed" decision.

Other new projects Planning Services is working on include a future biotechnology facility with the University of Pittsburgh and new undergraduate science labs in a six-story addition to Doherty Hall.

Gibson and Schmidt specialize in administrative process improvements, an outgrowth of the Total Quality Management and re- engineering movement of the early 1990s. Together they work on a consulting basis, analyzing administrative processes for units across the university.

Schmidt has been working with several departments and divisions regarding the implementation of the new Oracle financial management system. An original member of the Oracle implementation team, Schmidt also provides financial management support and is involved in writing specifications for some of the new system upgrades and customizations.

Gibson has been working to establish the Business Service Center in the Business and Planning Division. With the implementation of the Oracle financial management system, Business and Planning has moved several daily financial management functions, such as purchase orders, labor schedules, timecards, budgets and financial reporting to a service center within the division. Gibson also works with the Software Engineering Institute.

Over the years, Gibson and Schmidt have helped units across the campus, including Enrollment Services, the Development Division, the Robotics Institute, the Statistics Department and Facilities Management Services, to improve their work processes.

Lamb praised his staff, as an "on-call group, committed to customer service."

"We have a good crew of bright, young energetic people," he said.

Lamb's "Watershed Experience" in Mexico Guided Him to Career in Planning

It took a trip to Mexico to persuade Kevin Lamb, then in his early 20s, to pursue a career in public policy and planning.

During the 1970s, Lamb, a former carpenter's helper, joined a Catholic Church volunteer program and traveled to Yucatan, Mexico, where he worked for three years helping the residents.

"We worked in health care, agriculture and community development," Lamb said. "We tried to help Mayan farmers with their health needs. We also tried to help their farming practices to increase yields and improve storage of harvested corn and beans."

Seeing people live in primitive and poverty conditions helped shape Lamb's future.

"It was a watershed experience for me, one that changed my life," he said. "It really put me in motion to get a professional degree in public policy and planning."

Upon returning to the U.S., Lamb attended Gannon University in his hometown of Erie, Pa., where he earned a bachelor's degree in history and economics. He later earned his master's degree in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

After graduating from the Kennedy School, he went to work for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. While working in Boston, he traveled to Pittsburgh on a consulting trip and soon after was lured to Carnegie Mellon.

Bruce Gerson

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