The exploratory process began last year when long-time Southeast Bookstore Manager Jan Chisman announced her plans to retire, offering Southeast the opportunity to consider other bookstore and textbook rental models, as is the norm in higher education.
University officials are in the process of evaluating bids from interested companies that were due Jan. 9 after a request for proposals for these services was issued Nov. 30.
Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration, says she expects selected vendors to come to campus in late February or early March for presentations on how they would operate a campus bookstore and textbook rental system. Presentations will be given at forums open to the entire campus community. The RFP process and timeline were discussed with Student Government executives during their spring planning retreat held in early January.
If having an outside firm operate these auxiliaries is determined to be a viable recommendation, final approval would be required by the Board of Regents, Mangels said. A contract could be awarded in mid-May, with an outside firm taking the reins of the bookstore and textbook rental operations beginning in July.
Southeast has traditionally used a financially self-supporting in-house bookstore and textbook rental system. If these services are shifted to an outside firm, a private contractor would supply all textbooks and associated materials, equipment and services, and may incorporate e-textbooks and other non-traditional forms of textbooks.
“We want to see how others (firms and universities) are incorporating e-texts into rental programs and using evolving technologies for accessing course material,” Mangels said. “The textbook industry is undergoing many changes and is constantly in flux. Given this dynamic situation, e-textbooks and other non-traditional forms of textbooks could be incorporated into the textbook rental program as deemed in the best interests of Southeast’s students.”
The request for proposals also asked firms to bid on the continued operation of a full textbook rental program for all Southeast undergraduate students. Currently, Southeast’s textbook rental system allows undergraduates to rent their textbooks with a textbook per course fee showing up on their University billing statement.
The request for proposals also called for firms to bid on continuing to make additional textbooks available for retail sale, as specified by faculty, including graduate level textbooks, consumable study guides, workbooks and ancillary undergraduate textbooks. Firms also were to bid on the sale of Southeast clothing, novelties, gifts, hats, cups, memorabilia, and other retail merchandise at the Southeast Bookstore, regional campuses, football and basketball games.