By Richard Burnett
Only days before her planned retirement, Sandi Rysell found herself offered the promotion of a professional lifetime. It didn’t take long for Beacon College’s new chief financial officer to accept.
“It all happened pretty quickly — only three days before I was supposed to leave,” said Rysell, who had been Beacon’s finance and accounting director since 2016. “It was really nice to feel they recognized the work that I’ve done. But what it all came down to was Beacon needed me. I decided I just couldn’t leave.”
Rysell steps into the CFO role at a key time for the college amid the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, a growing enrollment, a flurry of campus improvements, and its rising profile amid the nation’s colleges. She succeeds Brian T. Cobb, a veteran Beacon leader and former chair of the board, who resigned as CFO in late July to pursue other interests.
Things happened so quickly, most of the campus did not know about her promotion — including her friends and associates who attended what was supposed to be her retirement party, Rysell said. The news set off a different kind of celebration for her, instead.
“To be honest, it’s really a relief not to be leaving,” she said. “As far as retirement, I really don’t know what I’m missing since I never actually got there. So far, the new job has been great. It’s not like starting a whole new thing. I know the job and I know the people. It’s like being home.”
Despite the surprising turn of events, Rysell said she feels confident in taking the leadership role of an office she knows well. As CFO, she is responsible for the accounting, budgeting, banking, payroll, audit, and investment functions of the institution. She also oversees the management of the campus bookstore.
“I would say it is a bit of a challenge to make sure nothing slips through the cracks during this time of abrupt change,” Rysell said. “But we are very fortunate the college has had such financial success in recent years, through building up our gifts and grants, and bringing in more funds than we’ve had in recent history. Now we need to focus on becoming the very best stewards of that money that we can be.”
Tina Morris, formerly the assistant director of finance and accounting, has succeeded Rysell as director of finance and accounting.
Beacon President George Hagerty welcomed Rysell’s expertise in an arena that she has helped fashion and upgrade over the past five years as director of finance and accounting. He highlighted the “talented and experienced team Rysell and her predecessors have assembled to manage the finances and budgeting for the increasingly complex enterprise that is Beacon College.
“The College is indeed fortunate to have Ms. Rysell overseeing the financial growth and well-being of a community navigating and prevailing in a highly competitive marketplace,” Hagerty said.
Rysell brings a wealth of experience to the job, including decades of work in the private for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Prior to joining Beacon, she was controller for DIECO/Producto, a national manufacturing and distribution company; controller of Noble of Indiana, a social services organization that helps create opportunities for people with disabilities; accounting manager for Baylor University; and financial reporting manager for Chrysler Technologies’ airborne systems unit.
She graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1979 with a bachelor’s in accounting, and earned a Certified Public Accountant license in 1980.