Data Governance and Stewardship

Established in 2008 with the endorsement of the University President and Officers, the Council serves as an advisory and coordinating body to promote consistent and effective administrative data policies and best practices across the University.  In the administrative sphere, the DSC complements the data governance role of other boards and councils at the University.

  • The Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees provides fiduciary oversight focused on the risks associated with University data.
  • The Board of Computing Activities and Services (BCAS) is a statutory board appointed by the Provost to create and approve policies related to computing activities in general.
  • The Biological Sciences Division and University of Chicago Medical Center also recently formed their own Data Stewardship Council to manage the complexities of administrative, clinical, and research data.
  • Further, divisional and school-based Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) provide oversight and guidance on issues related to research data.

These academic and administrative bodies act independently but contribute to the effectiveness of the University’s overall data governance framework.

The University DSC encourages a culture of stewardship, responsibility, and information sharing among those entrusted with administrative data and information.  Like donor stewardship—the concept that donated funds will be spent wisely and the donor’s wishes will be respected—data stewardship requires the responsible use of administrative data usually within a particular domain (faculty, student, staff, alumni).  In a broad sense, anyone at the University who handles administrative data is, effectively speaking, a data steward responsible for that data, and the stewardship responsibility is transferred to anyone who receives such data.

As one of its core values, the DSC promotes the principle of data usability.  Access to data and the appropriate sharing of data are key tenets of good stewardship.  In the focus on security and privacy, it is perhaps a natural tendency to restrict access to data rather than putting into place the policies and practices to ensure good stewardship.  With the accelerating demand and drive toward integrated and cross-functional analysis and decision-making, the DSC is an advocate for streamlined access rules across the University so that University leaders and their delegates have what they need to make decisions.