CAB Spotlight on Chris Shell and Ryan Bench

Chris-Shell-and-Ryan-Bench-CollegeSource-Client-Advisory-Board-Member

CAB Spotlights help you get to know the current Client Advisory Board members. The CAB serves as a liaison between CollegeSource and the community of professionals using CollegeSource software to maximize the higher education experience. Each spotlight is presented in a “Q&A” interview style and provides insights into CAB members’ institutions, what they are passionate about, and their perspective on issues within the higher education community. Additionally, CAB members may share anecdotes, advice, and what they have learned from being on the CAB.

We hope that these articles give you a new way to connect with the CAB and appreciate why each member was selected to represent our user community. In this portion of the series, we are excited to highlight two members.

Meet Chris Shell and Ryan Bench.


In the Spotlight: Chris Shell

Chris-Shell-CollegeSource-Client-Advisory-Board-MemberChris Shell is University Registrar of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) where she manages “all things student records and registration related.” Chris has been in her current position leading the Office of Records and Registration for 17 years, and has been with EMU for 23 years. Previous to this role, she served as Associate Registrar. EMU uses the Banner student information system (SIS) and utilizes TES, Transferology, and uAchieve Degree Audit from CollegeSource.

Do you participate in any associations, industry conferences or online groups? How does interacting with you peers from other institutions help you perform your job more effectively?

I am a member of AACRAO and MACRAO. Networking through these associations allows for the sharing of ideas and two-way discussions about issues and solutions.

What tips can you give to first-time attendees of the CollegeSource annual conference to help them be successful and get the most out of the experience?

Connect with presenters. From personal experience having previously presented at the conference, we are all happy to connect one on one before, during, or after the conference!

What have you learned about being on the CAB? Why might you encourage others to apply?

The CAB is a unique way to impact both users and CollegeSource. It is very rewarding being able to hear from users and share that information with CollegeSource staff to help improve the product and experience of students.

Reflecting back over your years in higher education, what do you see as having changed in higher education that may not be understood or apparent to someone from the outside or who has just joined the community?

What has not changed is most important. Students still want a quality education for a reasonable price and want a clear path set out for them to do so. They want to know what it will take to earn their degree.

What do you see as a recent trend or on the horizon for higher education? What problems do you think it needs to/will have to solve?

Higher Ed needs to be flexible when scheduling but still keep in mind their mission and student base. Not all students want an online experience— perhaps the best lesson learned from COVID.

What is the best thing about your job? 

I love assisting students, faculty, and staff in achieving their goals. It may not always have been in the manner or fashion they originally thought, but there is almost always a solution!

Do you have any sayings—personal mottos your colleagues would know by heart because you frequently apply it at work?

There isn’t anything we do that can’t be undone. Mistakes will happen—that is what makes us human. Just be sure you learn from them! Take accountability and responsibility for your actions , but don’t beat yourself up about your humanness.

Why CollegeSource? What do our products do for you that is critical to your and your students’ success? 

We have had degree audit products before, but CollegeSource’s uAchieve has been able to incorporate all of our uniqueness.

What is something fun that the community might want to know about you?

I am an avid mystery book reader. I also enjoy book recommendations from others.


In the Spotlight: Ryan Bench

Ryan-Bench-CollegeSource-Client-Advisory-Board-Member-CABRyan Bench is the Assistant Registrar at University of Wisconsin – River Falls where he manages transfer credit processing and serves as Functional Lead for CollegeSource products. He has been in his current position for 4 years and at UW River Falls for 12. Previous to this role, Ryan served as Manager of Transfer Credit. UW River Falls uses the PeopleSoft SIS and utilizes TES, Transferology, uAchieve Degree Audit, and Schedmule from CollegeSource.

Do you participate in any associations, industry conferences or online groups? How does interacting with your peers from other institutions help you perform your job more effectively?

I am an active member of the Wisconsin Association of Collegiate Registrar’s and Admissions Officers (WACRAO). Being a member of this organization gives me a space to work with colleagues in both private and public and 2-year campuses to bounce ideas off and to learn how to better support students in the state.

What advice can you offer first-time attendees or users trying to decide about attending the CollegeSource annual conference? What tips can you give to help them be successful and get the most out of the experience, especially now that it’s virtual?

You need to be here! I have never worked with a company that cares more about its users than CollegeSource does. They go out of their way to bring you into the “CollegeSource family” and help you get the most out of their products. Even though this year’s gathering will not be in person, I would encourage attendees to block off their schedules to allow themselves to be focused on the conference and attend as many sessions as possible. When we can safely go back to an in-person conference, I hope they take advantage of attending. There is so much support offered there and it is a great opportunity to learn from other users and how they are leveraging products to support their students!

What have you learned about being on the CAB? Why might you encourage others to apply?

I am VERY new to my role on the CAB but I can already tell that the company really does care about the feedback and advice we give on their products. I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of this group.

What is the best thing about your job? The most challenging thing? What strategies do you use to make yourself more productive, to give better service, or to keep your job fresh?

The best part of my job is I am stage-side at Commencement every fall and spring and I recognize many of the names as they are read walking across the stage. I recognize them because they are students that I helped get to this point by adjusting transfer credits or connecting them with their advisor to have a discussion on how they can better utilize the credits they have earned to get to that stage! Working with staff at CollegeSource isn’t so bad either! 🙂

The most challenging piece is trying to balance the demands on my position from multiple audiences across campus. My role connects with and supports current, past, and future students, in addition to faculty and staff across campus. With so many hours in the day, it is sometimes difficult to accomplish all that I want to, so I need to prioritize and do the best I can with the time and resources available. Managing this tends to be stressful at times and I make sure to carve out time for myself every day to go for a run or walk and listen to a good book. Doing this helps me center myself and be more present when I am at work.

Why CollegeSource? What do our products do for you that is critical to your and your students’ success? How are the products used well at your institution? And what are the opportunities you have yet to tackle with them?

CollegeSource helps our campus support not only current students and advisors–through uAchieve, but also our potential incoming transfer students through the use of TES and Transferology. Transferology helps us answer the question behind the question of, ‘Will my credits transfer?’ Students need to know not only will they transfer but HOW will they transfer and fit degree requirements. By allowing prospective students to run a degree audit prior to even applying they can see HOW their credits fit and show them what course they can take at their current institution to fulfill requirements on our campus.

Our campus uses the products well together but we have some growth opportunities, especially when it comes to using TES. The workflow capabilities TES has for routing equivalencies between colleagues on campus is great and we could do a better job of utilizing that feature. I always look forward to TES sessions at the conference and learning tips and tricks from other users on how they are using the TES workflow features.

What is something fun that the community might want to know about you?

I have driven as far north as you can drive (Prudhoe Bay, AK) and as far south (Florida Keys) as you can in the United States and it was done in the same 1992 Chevy Silverado.

When I am not working, I can usually be found at our off-the-grid cabin in Brule, WI. Our family spends as much time as we can escaping from electronics in the woods of Northern Wisconsin and enjoying what we call NEATure and some fresh air.

I am also an avid hunter and cribbage player and have a small side business making cribbage boards and tables out of live edge wood.

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