This past Monday, Credentials celebrated the 20th Anniversary of its founding. It has been quite a journey, so forgive me if this article rambles on a bit.
In September of 1997, Jeff Geldermann, Jack Weber, and I started Credentials in a 180 square foot office furnished with 2nd hand cubicles and an idea that degree and enrollment verifications could be requested and fulfilled on the fledgling internet. We thought we could build an enterprise around the concept of removing phone traffic from the Registrar’s Office to enhance Registrar productivity while creating an audit trail and controls over the distribution of student information. Along the way, we proved that we could also monetize degree verifications and provide a valuable new revenue source to many colleges and universities.
We would like to thank Sue Harvey of Eastern Illinois University, Marylin Benakis of Dominican University (Chicago), and Bill Fierke of University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign for their trust and support in helping us launch this revolution. Twenty years later, the practice of outsourcing degree and enrollment verifications is considered the industry “best practice”.
Of course, our journey was less than a bed of roses. We had to overcome the fact that nobody had ever heard of Credentials, we had no “street cred”, and then there was the little matter of Y2K. Even if the world didn’t come to an end, all new projects stalled for a long time. As a result, Credentials was starving to death.
Desperate for any kind of work that would pay to keep the lights on and the computers humming, we partnered with the College of DuPage in building a transcript ordering system in 2001. We will forever be grateful to Sue Blasi and Barb Raisns at COD for their trust and entrepreneurial spirits. With their help we built more than just an online ordering system, we built a “transcript order management” system. The architecture, which remains the foundation of our TranscriptsPlus® platform, was designed to track a transcript order through all the various processing stages and keep the student informed of progress throughout. Over the years, the system has been improved and embellished to provide complete automation of all aspects of processing and rendering either electronically or using security paper.
Once again, our solution sharply improved Registrar efficiency. Outsourcing transcript processing has arguably become yet another industry “best practice” with over half of the institutions in this country utilizing a vendor solution. This year, Credentials will process more than 5 million transcripts and print and mail more than 1 million transcripts using our fully automated eRoboMail® service.
The stories above were repeated again in 2005 when a friend at DeAnza College called me to ask if we would be interested in coming up with a system/solution for the sale and distribution of campus parking permits. While DeAnza College wasn’t ready to act on the idea, we designed a solution which we presented a few months later at Napa Valley College. Despite competing with several established parking permit vendors and never having printed a single parking permit, Credentials was awarded the contract. When I asked how we won the deal, they explained what separated us from the competition was that we understood “student service” and “student privacy”. They just trusted that we would figure out how to print a decal and get it mailed to the student.
We would like to thank Kathy Kyne of DeAnza College for planting the idea to process parking permit applications. Our thanks especially goes out to Napa Valley College and Chief of Police Ken Arnold for their trust and entrepreneurial spirit in actually building the system. Credentials now prints more than half of all the campus parking permits in the California Community College system and we continue to grow there and in other markets around the country.
Across all of our service lines we have continuously enhanced and expanded our service capabilities with RoboRegistrar®, Mouse Signatures, EDI/XML/PDF transcripts, eRoboMail®, License Plate Recognition, and Diploma and Certificate ordering and fulfillment. All the while we have worked non-stop to harden our data security posture while subjecting ourselves to Tier I data security audits.
Most institutions and AACRAO affiliates consider Credentials a “vendor”. I do not like this term. A vendor is the guy who sells beer or hot dogs at a ballgame. I prefer the term “business partner” because that is what we have done time and time again. We partner with schools to address problems, re-engineer workflows, and enhance student services. And the bottom line is that we never get paid until we deliver a solution that works. That is a model for great partnerships!
In closing, I would like to thank the many friends in the registrar community that trusted and believed in Credentials. Without their support the company would have not survived. I would also like to salute a number of long-time colleagues here at Credentials who have worked tirelessly for years to make the company something we are all proud to be a part of. Thank you all!
Paul Anderson, Furman University
Brad Myers, The Ohio State University
Carol “Stash” Stanley, University of Virginia
Roger Thompson, University of Oregon
Bill Jones, Ohio University
Ken Servis, University of Southern California
Barbara Todd, University of Colorado
Linda Miskovic, Santa Ana College
Kristin Clark, Orange Coast College
Jack Miner, The Ohio State University
Bill DeWolfe, Emerson College
Walter Wong, UC Berkeley
Monterey Sims, University of Phoenix
Dennis Geyer, Sacramento State
Stephanie Murguia, Cerritos College
Debbie Rio, College of the Canyons
Teresita Rodriquez, Santa Monica College
Lou Jimenez, Texas State University
Bobbie Brown, Texas Tech University
Monique Anderson, University of Tennessee
Scott Owczarek, University of Wisconsin
Terry Reed, Credentials
Kevin Klemke, Credentials
Rorke Miller, Credentials
Brian Wilson, Credentials
Whitney Geldermann, Credentials
Courtney Buksa, Credentials
Margaret Freeman, Credentials
Mindy Starcher, Credentials (eSS)
David Raissle, Credentials (eSS)
Joshua Hoagland, Credentials
John Geldermann, Credentials
Kelly Hafner, Credentials
Mark Bonges, Credentials