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Articles: Commerce

Talent, technologies and capital converge at TechTown Detroit, an incubator formed by Wayne State University in partnership with General Motors and the Henry Ford Health System. Since 2004 TechTown has been housed in a 1920s-era building contributed by GM.

It takes more than good intentions and extra space to be successful in starting an incubator.

Here are three tips to to help campus departments of economic development go from idea to execution:

Elizabeth Riddle is the director of OnCampus Research, a division of The National Association of College Stores.

Conventional wisdom tells us students aren’t buying course materials because they are too expensive. They are forced to drop or not take classes or go without needed materials. But research tells a different story.

Administrators, faculty members and campus staff have been ordering all sorts of supplies from Amazon.com for years, but it was only recently that the e-tailing colossus jumped formally into the higher ed and business-to-business procurement market. And some in the procurement world see benefits ahead.

Say cheese: Most University of Alabama students avoid waiting in line at the Action Card office for an ID by submitting their application online. For anyone unable to access that system or who needs a replacement card, the office is ready to assist.

Regardless of the size of the staff or office, efficient campus card programs share several best practices: A focus on customer service, cutting-edge technology and collaboration with the campus community and beyond.

The new higher education alliances cropping up are not just of the regional variety.

A group of private colleges and universities created a consortium in fall 2015 to negotiate better deals on enterprise resource planning systems, which can account for up to 4 percent of an institution’s entire annual budget. The Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium (HESS) now has 65 members located in 15 states.

There is a lot of money to be had, but only a select group of elite athletic programs are reaping high financial rewards. Smaller institutions with less competitive athletics programs are left to scramble for what they can get—mere pennies in comparison.

Tony Ellis is vice president of industry advancement for the National Association of College Stores.

The traditional model of course content creation and distribution—textbooks written by faculty and publisher-produced—is being disrupted.

New digital players and learning content formats—such as courseware, open educational resources and adaptive (or personalized) learning—promise lower costs and better outcomes.

Officials at the University of Missouri in 2012 looked at the business troubles of its academic press and decided the most prudent path forward was to shut it down. The community disagreed, lobbying against the closure, and the university recanted.

The whole affair emphasizes that academic publishing is not about dollars, but about the proliferation of scholarly and research-based writing, says David Rosenbaum, director of Mizzou’s press.

The editors of UB magazine proudly present the 2016 Readers’ Choice Top Products, chosen from hundreds of nominations. This annual award programs alerts higher ed administrators and staff to the best products their peers use to achieve excellence at institutions throughout the country.

You—the nation’s higher ed leaders—submitted testimonials throughout 2015. Our editorial board carefully narrowed the list based on the quality and quantity of these testimonies.

Students at California’s Santa Clara University are tapping their campus cards for various on-campus services instead of swiping, with the use of NFC technology. With convenience and efficiency as key drivers, the university plans to transition its NFC offerings to include mobile devices within the next couple of years.

Campus cards accomplish many tasks—from purchasing meals and vending machine snacks to unlocking dorm rooms and other campus facilities. A growing number of colleges and universities now offer even greater convenience, having replaced less-secure swipe cards with “contactless” cards and mobile devices that perform the same functions.

Students may forget their campus cards in their rooms or figure they don’t need their wallet for a short walk around the quad. But the one thing they are likely never to be without is a phone.

Faculty and students at Bridgewater College in Virginia complained increasingly in recent years about the unavailability of textbooks at the campus bookstore. To control inventory, the store stocked only a percentage of materials required if everyone purchased what was expected.

Campus business officers also noted a rapid decline in textbook revenue and related commissions, as students pursued lower-cost alternatives to purchasing books from the store.

Colleges and universities are implementing a wide variety of travel-expense strategies to protect their resources and reputation

The uncovering of outrageous abuses of travel policies, along with tight budgets and public skepticism of tuition increases, are leading to scrutiny of every penny spent on travel. Long gone are the chauffeured limousines, $1,200-a-night hotel rooms and other lavish expenses of traveling administrators at some institutions that have grabbed news headlines.

Roughly six years ago, David Lewis served on a team that was designing policies for a new college in the Middle East. As president of OperationsInc., a national HR consulting and outsourcing firm, he met with seven top U.S. higher ed institutions to review their policies, including travel.

To Lewis, travel has now become “a game”—with institutional officials figuring out ways to prevent employees from manipulating policies.

To help convert rogue employees into team players, he offers the following tips:

Working together, campus buyers and facilities staff can ensure that dollars for equipment needs are wisely spent.

Who would ever think that replacing simple lightbulbs could end up costing a university hundreds of thousands of dollars? Or that a piece of equipment destined for a building’s basement could nearly cause the destruction of an exterior wall, with an associated price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars, because the system was too large to fit through a doorway and too heavy to ride on an elevator?

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