Faculty Executive Committee discusses Student Stores' fate

The Faculty Executive Committee discussed the fate of UNC Student Stores and a new website, Carolina Metrics, at their meeting Monday afternoon.

UNC Student Stores

Matt Fajack, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said the University will submit a request for a proposal to examine Follett’s offer of $3 million for scholarship and occupancy costs to lease Student Stores. 

The request for the proposal will examine three goals: maximizing scholarships, treating the employees fairly and providing the level of service the UNC community expects. 

Fajack emphasized the option of privatization was in no way set in stone but said there is a definite need for changes to Student Stores.

“Bull's Head loses about $140,000 a year, and sales have been continuing to decline," Fajack said. "We’re at risk even if we retain it." 

Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises Brad Ives agreed Student Stores will have to change, even if it isn't leased, to best fulfill the needs of the UNC community, especially with regard to scholarships.

“I’m a graduate of this university," Ives said. "I am a small town North Carolina kid who got a scholarship here … This is a really, really hard thing for us, to look at Student Stores and try to take the money out of it."

Ives said everyone should look at the issue with an open mind.

“Change is hard. We’ve got employees that are going to be affected by this. We’re not taking that lightly," Ives said.

Ives said cuts in personnel are likely if the store is privatized, but it would help to reduce costs.

Ives said Follett would increase Student Stores' profit-bringing marketing knowledge. Fajack cited the wholesale prices available to Follett as a way to increase profits by bringing down costs.

UNC's Course Material Manger Kelly Hanner said Follett does not always offer the lowest prices. She presented the prices of 100 books that both Student Stores and Follett-run stores sell.

“Out of 100 books, five of them (Student Stores) has the highest price. Seven of them we were all the same prices. The remaining 88, the Follett bookstores were higher than Student Stores' price,” Hanner said.

Hanner said she sees the privatization of Student Stores as a transition to a corporate system.

“I don’t know if someone who has shareholders is going to be as much an advocate for trying less expensive options for students as we are,” Hanner said.

Fajack said a decision should be made by early in the fall 2016 semester.

Carolina Metrics

Provost Jim Dean presented Carolina Metrics to the committee. Carolina Metrics is a website designed to help the University compare campus environment, public benefits and student and faculty quality to other universities. 

“One of the things we found is that our perception of the University performance in various areas was in some cases accurate … and in some cases, it was inaccurate in the sense that we're better than we thought we were, and in other cases, we were not as good as we thought we were.”

Dean said he would like to increase the number of first generation college students graduating and the number of students who study abroad. The website is not yet public.

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