Meet Sierra-Cedar Consultant, Ken Epstein

Ken Epstein is the academic advising lead consultant for Project LionPATH. Ken and the LionPATH advising team work together to understand Penn State’s business process requirements, and to configure the software to meet the needs of the University. He and the team then find the best way to help the students, advisers, faculty, and staff learn how to use the system. Ken’s goal is to ensure that there is a process established to maintain and support the work that has been accomplished.

Learn more about Ken and his perspective as a consultant on Project LionPATH.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Arlington, Virginia, which is where I moved for my first job after graduate school in 1974. My professional career includes working for the Department of the Army, for Gallaudet University, and since 2002, as a consultant helping colleges and universities implement Campus Solutions. My weekends are filled with cooking, baking bread and enjoying the results, raising orchids and begonias, and delighting in my almost 4-year-old granddaughter.

What do you like best about consulting?

The best thing about consulting is the wonderful people. I have had the privilege of meeting and working with people from all over the country—all of whom care deeply about their institutions and their students. My Sierra-Cedar colleagues are great, and I always look forward to re-establishing friendships with them when I am on a new project. I enjoy the new challenges that come with every project, learning new ways of doing things, and discovering parts of the country I have not visited before.

What are the drawbacks to consulting?

It’s very hard to leave a project, especially one that has lasted more than a year. Teams come together, we suffer long hours getting ready for go-lives, we get frustrated when things don’t work properly, and we party when we are successful. It is very hard to say good-bye.

Travel can get old, especially when the weather is bad, and travel disruptions turn a 4-hour trip into a 12-hour trip, or to an overnight stay at an airport hotel. It can also be hard to be away from home, and to have to fit all of the little things into weekends, which are always too short.

Is there a place that you would most like to visit?

One trip that’s high on my list is a road trip through northern New England and into Canada’s Eastern provinces. There is a kayak trip in the Washington’s San Juan Islands that includes gourmet meals waiting at each evening’s campsite, which sounds great. Also, I would like to go back to explore more of the Southwest, and then head north to the Rocky Mountains.

Heading overseas, I would like to go to Turkey, Southern Europe—starting in Spain and Portugal and going through Italy to Greece. I would love to drive from Santiago, Chile to the southern tip of South America, then take a cruise through the glaciers and fly home from Argentina. There are countries in Southeast Asia I have not visited, and I would love to return to Bhutan. Finally, I have friends in South Korea, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, and a visit to them would be great.

After working with many universities on other student implementation system projects, have you encountered anything unique with Penn State?

In my experience, Penn State is unique in the special role the campuses play. Our challenge will be to create one system that works for a diverse university system consisting of individual campuses, each with its own distinctive characteristics. Because Penn State has so many campuses and students, small wrinkles become much bigger issues than they would at a smaller institution.

Any final thoughts?

I’m new to Penn State, and I didn’t know what to expect. In addition to learning about the intricacies of entrance-to-major, 2-plus-2 programs and similar academic policies and procedures, I’ve experienced the Grange Fair, and learned a little about Central Pennsylvania culture. It’s a pleasure working with the LionPATH team and enjoying their enthusiasm as we learn how to make Campus Solutions work for Penn State.