Press Release
October 7, 2022

National Student Success Nonprofit Taps Veteran Educational Researcher to Grow Its Program Evaluation Practice

Student support pioneer InsideTrack names new director of research to evaluate the impact of success coaching programs on behalf of colleges, philanthropies and employers

PORTLAND, ORE. (October 7, 2022) -- InsideTrack, the national social impact organization best known for pioneering the application of evidence-based success coaching in higher education, today announced the appointment of Dr. Mandalyn Gilles as the organization’s first full-time director of research, expanding the nonprofit’s capabilities in research and evaluation.

“At a time when learners are facing profound new challenges and institutions are being asked to do more with less, colleges are feeling a heightened sense of urgency to invest their limited resources in evidence-based programs that deliver a clear return on investment for students,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “Dr. Gilles brings a unique background in rigorous program evaluation and assessment for higher education programs, but just as importantly, she brings a deep appreciation of the complex challenges facing today’s students. She will bring a fresh and insightful new perspective as we grow.”

Bringing more than a decade of experience in higher education evaluation, assessment and institutional research, Gilles will be responsible for the oversight of research projects led or supported by InsideTrack as it works to evaluate the efficacy of large-scale student success initiatives. She will lead the organization’s efforts to surface new insights into the barriers and challenges facing historically underserved students that can help improve their opportunity for success, contributing to evaluation reports and studies commissioned by InsideTrack’s partners in higher education, philanthropy and the public sector.

Prior to joining InsideTrack, Gilles served as the director of assessment and planning for the Division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services at Old Dominion University, a Norfolk-based public research university and one of the largest institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There, she saw first-hand the impact of the one-on-one coaching model InsideTrack embedded within Old Dominion University’s campus, and how it informed sustainable outcomes for the institution’s students.

Gilles will bring this institutional knowledge to her current role to drive InsideTrack’s success on a national scale. She was also responsible for the implementation of an institution-wide research and assessment program that serves the needs of more than 400 staff and faculty for more than 24,000 students and helped boost outcomes for the institution’s students. Earlier in her career, Gilles gained experience in K-12 research through roles at Virginia Beach Public Schools, and postsecondary research at James Madison University and Longwood University, all focused on harnessing the power of research and evaluation to improve student outcomes.

“As a longtime InsideTrack partner and collaborator, I’ve seen firsthand their commitment to research and evidence-based practice. Their team weaves data and research into every step of the process to continuously improve,” Gilles said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help the organization take its research capabilities to the next level—and achieve an even greater impact on behalf of learners.”

Over more than two decades, InsideTrack has developed a national reputation for its rigorous student success coaching model proven to enhance student enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. The organization has participated in randomized control trials that have demonstrated the efficacy of one-on-one success coaching as a tool for improving student persistence and retention, culminating in the 2013 landmark study by Stanford University economist and professor of education Dr. Eric Bettinger and University of California, Irvine assistant professor Dr. Rachel Baker.

To this day, InsideTrack is one of only a handful of higher education interventions that have met the rigorous criteria for inclusion in the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse. In addition to directly coaching hundreds of thousands of students annually, InsideTrack’s seasoned team of professional coaches, trainers and consultants also supports institutions in implementing changes to improve the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of their own student support services.


About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner — from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person — including first-generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services — designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack

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