Established in 1985 by an act of the Michigan legislature, the Institute was charged with collecting and analyzing information on the initial employment (upon graduation) for the college educated workforce from all four-year institutions within the state. Later two-year graduates from the State’s community college system were included in this responsibility. The Institute’s charge rose from concerns of a “brain drain” during and following the economic recession of the early 1980’s. Until the legislature rolled the Institute’s funding into the University’s overall budget in 1990, the destination of graduating seniors was the primary research focus. Without the legislative mandate, statewide reporting collapsed as several institutions no longer felt compelled to provide their information. 

In line with this work on graduate destinations, research was started on: the socialization experience of new college graduates in the workplace; learning strategies used to enhance workplace performance; impact of co-op and internships on transition outcomes; and recruiter practices, such as use of resumes and behavioral interviewing. A major project which has stimulated discussions and program initiatives is on the acquisition/development of complementary skills and competencies that are required in the work, in addition to disciplinary mastery. This work has evolved into examination of co-curricular activities that support social learning/community of practice.

The research readily identifiable with the Institute is “Recruiting Trends.” Michigan State University, for 30 years, conducts an annual survey of national employers seeking their intentions for hiring new college graduates. This study provides a snapshot of factors influencing the college labor market, as well as in-depth examination of key issues in college recruiting.

In the mid 1990’s the Institute was asked to coordinate a segment of the University’s assessment program, focused on outcome measures. The University’s senior exit survey was redesigned to capture program and service assessments for colleges and units. This continues to be a key initiative for the University.

The Institute continues to provide leadership in the support of career development programs, student learning initiatives, and strategic planning around student outcomes.