Tuesday, January 5, 2021
By Claudia Zequeira
As assistant vice president of analytics and reporting, Daryl Davis is responsible for the development and implementation of Valencia College’s data and analytics strategy.
But who could guess that Daryl’s path to the College would begin with basketball?
“My first career was to play professional basketball,” said Daryl, a former four-year starter for the University of Central Florida (UCF) basketball team, for which he was inducted into the UCF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
“I even tried out for multiple NBA teams, but I ended up getting injured. Needless to say, basketball did not work out for me,” added Daryl, who was also named one of the Top 100 UCF Knights Male Athletes of All Time in 2020.
After shifting gears and earning an undergraduate degree in business from the UCF, Daryl felt a lack of connection to that field. However, it only took one stint at a local software company for him to catch “the programming bug.”
“I came in with no experience, but they were looking for people who didn’t know everything about computers, and I learned a lot from them,” said Daryl. “They put the bug in me.”
Daryl would later earn a Master of Science in management of computer information systems from the University of Phoenix as he continued to rise within the field and as his passion continued to guide his career.
Before Valencia College, Daryl worked at Hewitt Associates as a systems analyst and unit supervisor.
He joined Valencia in 2006, where he started as a research analyst and collaborated with Valencia staff, faculty and administrators to develop a wide range of reports and data analysis that were used enterprise-wide to make data-informed decisions on some of the College’s most important initiatives.
“One of the exciting things about working at Valencia is the collaboration,” he said of his decision to join and remain at the College.
“When working on projects, with others, we come together collaboratively for the better of the student success agenda. It’s not about ‘me’ or ‘I,’ it’s about the student. I also like the fact that Valencia has a ‘fail fast’ mentality, meaning that if you fail on projects, we are okay with you using these failures as learning opportunities instead of shining the light on your failures.”
Daryl was later promoted to the role director of institutional research in 2014.
As assistant vice president of data analytics and reporting, his current role, he helps manage the Institutional Research department, Data Warehouse efforts, and state and federal data reporting, all while keeping sight of the “big picture.” These tasks include studying student outcomes and success, tracking enrollment and capacity, and using data to ensure proper state and federal funding, among many other functions.
“The strategic plan is to help the College make better decisions,” he said. “And we help the decision makers at the College to use the right data to make important decisions that drive student success and employee engagement.”
His supervisor, Brandon McKelvey, vice president of analytics and planning, praised Daryl for his skills across multiple areas.
“Daryl provides exceptional leadership for the College with this strong technical and management skills,” said Brandon. “He is patient and thoughtful in a way that demystifies complex data concerns. It is a pleasure to work with him.”
Of his work at Valencia, Daryl said he is most proud of introducing data and visualization tools, including SAS Visual Analytics and Tableau, both of which have allowed users access to easily retrievable information. Both initiatives have also reduced the number of research requests his team previously received from various departments.
But he sees his role here as more than just a job. Daryl has volunteered to mentor Black male Valencia students. And his own son, Daryl II, is a current Valencia student.
“I value the relationships that I was able to build with these students, knowing that I could be an inspiration to them,” he said. “In these students, I see a lot of myself and it feels good to know that you are providing hope for them to achieve their dreams and goals.”
This meshes with how Daryl says the community views Valencia: a place of opportunity.
“I think by having the open door admission policy and the DirectConnect to UCF program, we are seen as a place of opportunity to many in the community. Many students rely on Valencia as the gateway to their bachelor’s program,” said Daryl, adding he was inspired to know the work he is engaged with connects to student success.
He also appreciates Valencia as a place that has afforded him the ability to grow professionally in a collegial environment.
“I feel blessed to do what I love,” said Daryl. “To me, it really does not feel like a job, being that I love it. Thanks to really good leadership and management, I am afforded the opportunity to spend many hours working, researching and participating in training to get better at my craft.”
In his spare time, Daryl enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his wife Cathy, his son Daryl II, and Sydney, a daughter who is currently in the eighth grade.
He also enjoys enjoy being a “weekend warrior” and playing basketball, when his body allows it, as well as coaching.
“I still enjoy playing and coaching basketball,” he said. “For the past 10 years, I have coached the same group of 20-plus kids since they were 8 years-old, with the coaching philosophy of teaching them how to become better young men first, then learn a little bit of basketball on the way.”
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.