University Selects Follett to Run CUA Bookstore

It was a smooth transition from Barnes & Noble to the Follett Higher Education Group earlier this month, as CUA signed a new 10-year agreement handing over management of the CUA Bookstore to Illinois-based Follett. After completing an inventory, the bookstore reopened Monday, July 17.

An exhaustive review process led to the selection of Follett, said Sue Pervi, vice president of administration. CUA's management agreement with Barnes & Noble was due to expire at the end of the summer.

A bookstore advisory team comprising students, faculty and adminstrators reviewed proposals submitted by a pre-selected group of companies. The team also considered whether the university should assume control of the bookstore, due to move from Crough Center to the Pryzybla University Center upon the new building's completion in 2002.

"The team decided that continuing to outsource this service would bring more benefits to the university and minimize risks at this time," Mrs. Pervi said.

The team spent 10 months reviewing proposals. Among the factors they considered were success at other institutions, customer service programs, employment practices and pricing philosophy. Team members also examined whether the corporate mission and culture of the companies were consistent with CUA's mission and vision.

"More than 40 hours of interviews were conducted with colleagues at comparable institutions, and we looked at national independent audits of industry practices to determine the direction to take," Mrs. Pervi said. "This decision was made very carefully."

Follett gained the edge with a guaranteed low-price program, a buyback program for used-books open to customers year-round and a Web site that allows students to buy books and other products online. The company will also invest in the Pryzybla Center.

"We are privileged to have been selected to provide services at this noted Catholic university," said James W. Baumann, president of Follett. "We are committed to providing the products and services that will enhance the academic mission of the university and support campus life."

Follett is developing a Catholic University "virtual bookstore" through efollett.com to service the needs of the campus community. Faculty will be able to place orders for their course readings through efollett.com and students and alumni will be able to purchase textbooks and spirit merchandise (mugs, T-shirts and banners, for example,) online.

The company serves more than 4 million students and over 300,000 faculty through more than 640 stores. The company's virtual bookstore, efollett.com, is a leading Internet provider of educational products and services for higher education. Follett’s mission is to help college bookstores become world-class, multi-channel academic retailers and to support higher education by being the preeminent provider of academic and collegiate products and services. The changes will mean some personnel changes, Mrs. Pervi said, but the new company will keep many current employees.

"The community will see familiar faces at the bookstore, but a new manager will be in place by the end of July," she said, adding that the advisory team will assist in the new manager's selection.