eLumen Employee Spotlight – Sheryl Hess

Sheryl Hess
Customer Success Manager

Sheryl Hess is based in Minneapolis and has been with eLumen for nearly four years. With a PhD in Instructional Design, Sheryl has an extensive background in higher education technology and has worked as an assessment specialist and instructional designer at Capella University and an instructional designer at the University of Minnesota. As a member of the eLumen Customer Success Team, Sheryl supports institutions with implementation and ongoing use of the eLumen curriculum and assessment management system.

Before working at eLumen what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I worked at a plasma donation center where I spun bags of blood in a centrifuge to separate plasma from red blood cells. It was kind of a freaky job, but it was also interesting and potentially lifesaving at times. With many donors, you could tell their state of health by the color of their plasma, if they had a potential health issue, the center would let them know so they could seek medical attention.

What three words would you use to describe your role at eLumen?

  • Coach
  • Advocate
  • Strategy-builder

What is most rewarding about your work at eLumen?

It’s great to witness when a school “gets” eLumen – when they really understand what we’re about – then they can move forward and use eLumen for the benefit of students and the institution.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m an avid photographer. When I was nine years old, my dad showed me how to use a camera. I prefer using film cameras because you have to wait longer to see the results unlike with digital cameras. Creating images with film helps me really concentrate on the subject and allows me to slow down the process of image-making. When you’re working in film, every frame is sacred, and for me, photography is a kind of therapy – it’s a way to process life and what’s happening in the world.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

By far, getting my doctorate in Instructional Design. It was challenging. Even though I learned a lot of theory, I also learned a lot about myself such as how to meet and overcome challenges and know the intricacies of persistence. It was definitely a character-building experience.

What is a fun fact about you that eLumen clients and colleagues probably don’t know?

I’m part of a volleyball team. We’re an intermittent group that has been getting together for the last 30 years for pickup games.

What is your favorite desk tchotchke?

Rocks from my travels. I’ve always been interested in geology, and they become a great remembrance of previous adventures. 

Sheryl Hess Self-Portrait

eLumen Announces New Solutions Engineer

En Español

eLumen is pleased to announce that Jorge Salinas has joined our team as a Director of Solutions Engineering. Jorge comes to eLumen with more than two decades of higher education technology experience including Technological Platforms Director at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and Solutions Engineer at Blackboard.

As Director of Solution Engineering, Jorge will be responsible for working with current and perspective eLumen partners in the US and Latin America. His duties include architecting solutions, supporting partner evaluation processes, and ensuring the subsequent successful implementation of the eLumen suite of products and services.

Jorge holds a Masters in Information Technology Administration from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and is currently based in Denver.

The University of Adelaide Selects eLumen for Integrated Curriculum Design, Management and Assessment

eLumen, the leading provider of software and services built to power student learning and success, is excited to announce that the University of Adelaide is the first university in Australia to select eLumen to provide an integrated solution for enhancing curriculum design, management and assessment.

Implementation of the system constitutes a major transformative project for the University, further enhancing the University’s growing reputation for innovation, investment and development in learning and teaching.

eLumen empowers academic and professional staff to design and create engaging curriculum. The University extensively consulted with academic and professional staff as well as students to inform the choice of tool and the ways in which it will be tailored for their use. Implementation of the system will replace current paper-based business processes to increase design collaboration and workflow efficiencies across the University on curriculum and assessment management.

Philippa Levy, Pro-Vice Chancellor Student Learning and executive sponsor of the project explained that “eLumen will help us reshape our curriculum and evolve our learning and teaching with a focus on curriculum relevance and flexibility. It will help us develop an expanded way of thinking about and designing curriculum, reflecting new trends in the sector, including bringing together co-curriculum with formal curriculum.”

In supporting student success at a world-class 21st century university, the eLumen system will make it possible for students to plan their study pathways with confidence knowing that their programs of study are of high quality and that their study choices are valid in meeting the requirements of the degree program in which they are enrolled.

We are thrilled to be working with the University of Adelaide as our first partner in Australia,” said eLumen CEO, Joel Hernandez. “The innovations in curriculum and student engagement underway there are going to provide a model for other universities in Australia and around the world.”


Establish in 1874, the University of Adelaide—a member of Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight research-intensive universities—stands tall among the world’s leading institutions of learning and innovation. The clearest indication of this is our consistently high rating by the most respected international assessment bodies: QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education and Shanghai Jiao Tong’s Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU). All consider us one of the top 1% of universities worldwide, and the top university in our state. We’re equally proud of the fact that the vast majority of our research is rated ‘above or well above world standard’ by the Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research Australia program.

We count among our distinguished alumni: five Nobel Laureates; over 100 Rhodes Scholars, including Australia’s first Indigenous recipient; and Australia’s first female prime minister and Supreme Court judge. Many of our staff and teachers are internationally recognised leaders in their fields. And we attract a diverse student body of over 27,000 from more than 90 countries. For more information visit https://www.adelaide.edu.au


eLumen is the first ever fully integrated system to support curriculum and catalog, assessment and program review, ed planning, badging, career pathway maps, and more! eLumen workflows feed performance and disaggregated data to those who need it – academic leadership, institutional research, faculty, and students. Only eLumen can help manage all these processes in one platform that also connects with your SIS and LMS, allowing you to accomplish what you need to do so you can focus on what you want to do. eLumen supports some of the most innovative colleges and universities across the globe. For more information visit https://www.elumenconnect.com/

eLumen Employee Spotlight – Mitch Shively

Mitch Shively
Director of Strategic Partnerships

Mitch Shively is based in Phoenix, AZ and has been with eLumen for 1 ½ years. A graduate from Purdue University, Mitch has extensive experience with higher ed Learning Management System (LMS) providers. In his role as Director of Strategic Partnerships, Mitch works with institutions in the Western U.S. and Hawaii on the review and adoption of eLumen’s curriculum, assessment and student engagement resources.

How did you first learn about eLumen? What drew you to eLumen originally?

I was introduced to the CEO, Joel Hernandez, via one of eLumen’s board members and was drawn to the opportunity because eLumen’s software platform is different than anything I’d worked with before in higher ed; eLumen is much more student success focused than any other ed tech solution I’ve encountered. Working with a team that supports a solution that is truly student success mission oriented is something I can get behind.

What are three words you would use to describe eLumen?

Can I use more than 3 words?

  • Integrated – it supports an integrated approach to curriculum and assessment management and student engagement.
  • Student focused – the system is ultimately designed to support student success.
  • Succeeding on purpose – aptly sums up what we’re trying to do which is to help the entire institution including students to succeed!
  • Fun!! It’s a fun company!

What does a typical day look like for you?

My work varies from day to day, and my daily activities can range from outreach to colleges and universities to share the eLumen message to following up on inbound inquiries for more information on our solution and writing formal proposals. Quite frequently I go out and travel to schools to meet with people to better understand what they’re trying to accomplish with curriculum, assessment, and student engagement processes and to help determine how eLumen can help them create fundamental institutional change toward continuous improvement in these areas.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have a lot of expensive hobbies like playing and watching golf, and I also enjoy lounging in our pool in 110 degree Phoenix temps.

Do you have a special talent?

I am really, really good at trivia. I know any number of things that really don’t amount to a darn thing, as my father would say, but I’ve never been able to pass the Jeopardy online qualifying test! Some day…

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

Han Solo – he’s a little snarky and is cool as all get out, and a funny guy who turns out to be a good guy in the end. He’s not burdened with having the force; he’s just a regular guy. Kind of like me!

Mitch and his fur babies, Josie Marie and Fausto.

Solano Community College Selects eLumen for Integrated Curriculum, Catalog, Assessment and Program Planning Management

eLumen, the leading provider of software and services built to power student learning and success, announced today that Solano Community College (SCC) has selected eLumen to provide an integrated solution to help the college with accreditation, curriculum and catalog, student learning outcomes, and program review and planning. eLumen was SCC’s choice thanks to its seamless integration, consistent interface, and easy data interchange and exchange, allowing the college to address emerging needs for Guided Pathways and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Vision for Success while eliminating inefficiencies resulting from non-integrated systems.

Solano Community College had been laboring through manual processes and disparate systems to manage program review, the college catalog, and curriculum. This made it difficult to implement effective college planning as integrating data from various platforms was cumbersome and ineffective.

Dr. David Williams, SCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, explained why eLumen was their choice for student and institutional success by stating, “Our process for assessing student learning was complicated, and our catalog development process was manual, slow, and susceptible to errors. While there are many options out there for each of these processes, eLumen was the only solution that was easy to use and integrated all of the data.”

The college looks forward to an integrated workflow process with eLumen’s platform, saving time and resources so that more focus can be spent on making informed decisions on program improvements and student programs. “There are so many good things happening at Solano College right now,” says Dr. Williams. “With our increased focus on student equity and Guided Pathways for student success, eLumen will give us the tools we need to be even more effective.” Academic Senate President Dr. LaNae Jaimez agrees: “We were looking for a platform that would be easy for faculty to use and still meaningful for students, so that we could focus on the real goal of continually improving our courses and programs. eLumen will help us do that.”


Solano Community College is a tradition in Solano County. Established in 1945 as Vallejo Junior College, Solano was part of the Vallejo Unified School District until 1967 when the College became a countywide institution. The 192-acre campus, centrally located just off Interstate 80, was completed in 1971. Solano College is part of California’s public community college system of 114 campuses in 72 districts across the state. The College’s service area encompasses the communities of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Suisun, Vacaville, Vallejo and Winters, as well as Travis Air Force Base. Many graduates of the area’s fifteen public high schools and three private schools take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by Solano Community College. The college is one of fifteen in the state to offer a baccalaureate degree: the Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomanufacturing is housed in a state-of-the-art biotechnology center on the college’s Vacaville campus. For more information visit http://www.solano.edu/


eLumen is the first ever fully integrated system to support curriculum and catalog, assessment and program review, ed planning, badging, career pathway maps, and more! eLumen workflows feed performance and disaggregated data to those who need it – academic leadership, institutional research, faculty, and students. Only eLumen can help manage all these processes in one platform that also connects with your SIS and LMS, allowing you to accomplish what you need to do so you can focus on what you want to do. eLumen supports some of the most innovative colleges and universities across the globe. For more information visit https://www.elumenconnect.com/

eLumen Employee Spotlight – Robyn Tornay

Robyn Tornay
eLumen Customer Success Manager

Robyn Tornay is based in Tampa, Florida and has been with eLumen since 2016. With more than 20 years of experience in the higher education student services arena in both two- year and four-year institutions, Robyn was introduced to eLumen while working as an Education Planning Initiative Project Manager at the California Community Colleges Technology Center. As a member of the eLumen customer success team, Robyn works with a number of partner institutions on adoption, implementation, and ongoing use of eLumen.

What are 3 words you would use to describe eLumen?

  • Insightful– Our system helps institutions see real progress across the platform not in siloed areas. It gives you a bigger picture to where your students are achieving.
  • Easy– Institutions are able to dive in and get to work fairly quickly with the platform and begin using the system.
  • Collaborative – it connects everything together as a collaborative process streamlining information in one location

What three words would you use to describe your role?

  • Dedicated
  • Passionate
  • Client-focused

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

My husband and I enjoy training for and running half marathon and 10K runs. In between those runs, I bike to the gym four times a week and spend time in our pool to maintain a healthy work/life balance to decompress, let go of the day, and just enjoy the environment.

What book are you reading now?

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway. It is a classic summer read to pick up again and again.

What is one of the biggest achievements to date?

In 2011 my husband was deployed to Afghanistan and his unit did goodwill visits to villages. They found women and children needed supplies at the clinics they encountered. At the time I was a Director of Enrollment at a community college and along with a Sociology professor we teamed up to gather over 400 pounds of supplies (medical, toys, clothing) and shipped them over to his unit. The clinics were grateful for the assistance.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?

My father. He passed away in 2010, and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. My father was a good listener – he wasn’t critical, he was very patient, and a man of very few words, and when he did speak, his words were powerful.

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

I love when a college I’m working with starts to see the puzzle pieces come together and they get excited about the big picture forming in front of them. It’s so rewarding and motivating for me. It’s like helping someone build a house, where at first it’s hard to imagine what the finished product will be like, but then as you work through the process of building the house together, there’s that “aha” moment when the vision finally materializes. That’s what it’s like when you work collaboratively on a process. Developing new, integrated processes for more efficient management of curriculum, catalog, assessment, and student engagement helps not only one college but all colleges.

Robyn and her family

Coming up for AIR

Karen Rothstein, PhD
eLumen Vice President of Strategy and Research

This past week I attended the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) Forum in Denver. After climbing a flight of stairs and then having to catch my breath, I realized the need for air at AIR wasn’t just a catchy title. Mile High City indeed. Given my role with eLumen, I was eager to learn about the researcher’s point of view on national trends in higher education, response to current pressures on institutions, and of course all things curriculum and assessment focused. And I was not disappointed.

I attended two sessions that illustrated the enormous effort required to engage in high quality improvement efforts. The first was entitled How Did We Get Here? Curriculum Mapping as the Cornerstone to Good Assessment. Evan Widney from Duke shared the University’s impressive undertaking of curriculum mapping. In addition to the final product of course-level outcomes mapped to program and institutional-level outcomes, faculty had the opportunity to dig deep into the current SLOs to determine if they are still valid and relevant. While SLO work is often framed in the context of accreditation, Widney’s project illustrated the deeper pedagogical conversations that stem from a high-quality curriculum process. He also included a terrific, simple image of design vs. implementation (see below). The second session, entitled IR Collaboration & Leadership in Academic Program Review, was from Springfield College. Mary Ann Coughlin and Jerold Laguilles presented the case study of their college’s implementation of a process to evaluate and prioritize academic programs. The data they used were varied, while the conversations with faculty and administrators were weighty and sometimes challenging.

Evan Widney, Duke University, Design vs. Implementation Illustration

A common theme in these and other sessions I attended was the importance of bringing comprehensive data to the conversation. These data often took the form of spreadsheets, homemade templates, and other labor-intensive processes. I’ll be honest…there were a few times when I wanted to stand up and shout (because I’m from NY, I tend to shout), “I know of a better way…follow me!” But I contained myself lest I got kicked out of the conference for causing a ruckus. eLumen’s way is to house the curriculum and assessment data in a single system, while also pulling in completion and success data from student information systems. The result is a single source of truth for data on your campus that provides the crucial information needed by faculty, staff, and administrators. If you’d like to talk more about eLumen and how it can support your data needs, please send me an email…I always love to talk about data!

Email: karen@elumenconnect.com 
LinkedIn: karen-rothstein-a5629160/
Instagram: klrothstein/
Twitter: klrothstein

eLumen Announces New Senior Technical Product Owner

eLumen is pleased to announce that Chris Houston has joined our team as the new Senior Technical Product Owner. Chris comes to eLumen with 14 years of experience working in technology while spending the last 7 years in higher education at Capella University (now Strategic Education Inc.) as a Senior IT Business Analyst. Chris has been a leader in eliciting requirements, crafting features derived from customer needs, and using his toolset to facilitate the development of numerous successful online products, systems, and solutions.

Chris is passionate about solving complex problems and achieving the unprecedented.  Chris was instrumental in the success of Capella’s FlexPath courseroom experience through creative solution design and collaboration with the LMS architecture team. When most online Learner Management System (LMS) courseroom experiences are homogeneous in presentation, mostly limited to out-of-the box features, Capella was able to achieve a pioneering course experience to complement its revolutionary competency-based, learner-centric online program.

Since 2016, Chris has been a regular contributor to IMS Global Learning Consortium and a supporter of their technical standards. He was a contributor to the Competency and Academic Standard Exchange (CASE) specification, published in 2017, which defines a common data format for Competency statements (learning objectives). His work on the Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) emerging specification (previously called the Extended Transcript) led to becoming a Co-Chair of the IMS Comprehensive Learner Record technical workgroup in 2018. This work continues as the team nears completion of the CLR specification.

In Chris’ new role as Senior Technical Product Owner at eLumen, he will immediately add more horsepower to the Product Management organization and will be very focused on creating more clarity and transparency around the product roadmap, detailed requirements and specifications, as well as product architecture. He will also help us better define our role in the larger integrated higher ed tech ecosystem on campus, leaning heavily on his background developing and implementing integration standards such as LTI, CASE, and others.


eLumen Employee Spotlight – Donna Jones

Donna Jones, Ed.D.
Director of Solutions Engineering

Based in Des Moines, Donna Jones has been with eLumen since 2017. With an extensive background in instructional design and academic assessment along with more than 20 years’ experience in education technology, Donna was introduced to eLumen through a mutual friend, Melissa Loble, Senior Vice President of Customer Success and Partnerships at Instructure. Donna found eLumen’s innovative integrated curriculum, assessment, and student engagement system to be an exciting way to further her work in education technology adoption and joined the eLumen team!

Before working at eLumen what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

For me, one of the most interesting and engaging jobs I’ve had was Strategic Consultant, Senior Specialist at Blackboard where I got to work with institutions on planning their initiatives. The work was not just about adopting technology but also involved helping schools develop change management and introduce new processes before implementing the technology. It was great working with diverse institutions globally.

What does a typical day at eLumen look like for you?

Each day holds a variety of activities related to helping institutions both in the US and abroad gain a better understanding of eLumen’s resources. For example, working on RFPs, discovery calls to understand unique needs for managing curriculum assessment, and student success, and then providing a custom walkthrough of our system accordingly, onsite presentations, and more! 

What is your biggest achievement to date – personally or professionally?

Raising two amazing children! My family is the most important thing to me.

What is a fun fact about you that eLumen clients and colleagues probably don’t know?

Growing up I used to show and train dogs (Shelties). I was a national 4-H champion in Dog Care and Training and went on to become a dog show judge and co-authored curriculum used in the State of Kansas to this day.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”

What are 3 words you would use to describe eLumen?

  • Unique – approach to integrating disparate systems
  • Nimble – can help institutions manage student success support processes faster with less effort
  • Efficient – help improve processes

What is most rewarding about your job here at eLumen; what makes it all worthwhile?

I love helping people and institutions solve problems and overcome challenges when it comes to operationalizing processes designed to ultimately help students succeed. 

Donna Jones and her Family

eLumen’s Glimpse of the Horizon

Karen Rothstein, PhD
eLumen Vice President of Strategy and Research

While many institutions are rightfully focused on the here and now (Guided Pathways and Remediation Reform, anyone?), the next big “thing” is right around the corner…or, if you are EDUCAUSE, right on the horizon. Every year, EDUCAUSE gathers a panel of experts and thought leaders to reflect on educational technology successes, works in progress, and trends, with the results published in the Horizon Report 2019 Higher Education Edition. While I strongly recommend reading the full document, below are a few highlights.

Key Trends

The report separates keys trends that can affect a college’s technology into three categories: short-, mid-, and long-term (Alexander et al., 2019, p. 5). Common across all trends is the ongoing evolution of how institutions support learning, from creating dynamic physical spaces to fostering innovation to ever increasing use of online delivery of content. One of the most critical components to innovation and change is the “and now what” phase…also known as evaluation, reflection, and continued modification. Integrated data are at the heart of these types of conversations to advance innovation to scale. Institutional change requires institutional technology platforms that provide these types of data, while also documenting change in a simple, user-friendly interface. eLumen empowers colleges to engage in this crucial work by being the first platform to integrate fully curriculum and assessment. This approach allows colleges to have a seamless workflow that uses assessment data to drive program planning, which then leads to curricular and program change, which leads to implementation of innovation, which leads to collecting new data…you get the idea.


Then of course there are the challenges facing colleges as they adopt and implement technology. Several of the challenges discussed in the report revolve around building capacity and knowledge for both faculty and students (Alexander et al., 2019, p. 5). Embedded within this is the ongoing issue of how best to include part-time faculty. As we all know, part-time faculty are crucial to providing a full schedule that meets the needs of students, yet they are often left out of the conversation and the last to know. Here again institutional change requires an institutional platform that is easily accessible to all employees to ensure they are included and informed. Because eLumen is a single, integrated system that allows for easy sharing of information, timelines, and updates, as well as all things curriculum and assessment, faculty, administrators, and staff can be confident that the information they access in eLumen is accurate and timely.

So there you have it…a very quick glimpse into how eLumen supports these trends via continuous improvement processes and helps resolve these challenges by providing efficient, accurate information to the entire college. Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to discuss eLumen and the Horizon report in more detail. As anyone who has met me in real life knows, I’m passionate about exciting, big-idea solutions!

Alexander, B., Ashford-Rowe, K., Barajas-Murphy, N., Dobbin, G., Knott, J., McCormack, M., Pomerantz, J., Seilhamer, R., and Weber, N. (2019). EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: 2019 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2019/4/2019horizonreport.pdf?la=en&hash=C8E8D444AF372E705FA1BF9D4FF0DD4CC6F0FDD1.

Email: karen@elumenconnect.com 
LinkedIn: karen-rothstein-a5629160/
Instagram: klrothstein/
Twitter: klrothstein