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Articles: Commerce

Reverse auctions have, by some accounts, proven to save institutions more than 40 percent on goods and services.

Seconds tick by. Vendors submit bid after bid in real time, battling it out to win the business of the campus procurement office. The opposite of eBay, this reverse auction format results in the price going down with each bid.

At Armstrong Atlantic State University, the business and finance department created a policy in 2011 that covers how to establish any revenue-producing activity.

Such activity is defined as that which generates revenue from the sale of products or services provided by the university or university employees.

Prior to establishing an account for this activity, a department must take the following steps:

When it comes to nontuition payments, college and university officials want the best of both worlds, says Daryl Robinson, director of higher education product development and strategy for Nelnet Business Solutions.

On the one hand, they’re expressing the need to centralize the accounting of revenue generated by departments across campus. On the other hand, there’s the realization this effort is often best handled by those individual departments.

At the University of Alabama, athletics fans can check out the Bryant Museum, covering UA sports history. It’s just one of several revenue-generating spots on campus where payments are made.

From the sale of tickets to athletic or performing arts events, to housing and parking fees and fines, as well as merchandise sales and event sponsorships, there are myriad alternative sources of revenue coming in to various departments on a given campus throughout the year.

Upon deciding that a more uniform approach was required when it came to the nontuition revenue being generated by departments across campus, The University of Alabama officials established policies designed to regain control of what had been, up to that point, highly decentralized.

Segmented into three areas—revenue-generating operations, credit card operations, and eCommerce ventures—the policies centralized the oversight and handling of funds within the student receivables office.

Increasingly, colleges and universities, like their corporate counterparts, are being asked to do more with less. Vendors can play a key role in offering expertise, reducing workload, and saving money.

In the life of an institution, the chief financial officer helps drive the big narrative, but also digs down into the day-to-day. A CFO is strategist and analyst, decision-maker and inspirer, and protector and possibility-seeker all in one.

The U of Arkansas Bookstore, which resides in the 50,000-square-foot, retail-focused Garland Center on campus, uses text messaging and mobile coupon offers to drive traffic. The promotions target specific demographics based on current marketing needs and goals.

As books become digital and online retailers distribute college branded T-shirts, Pillow Pets, and logo-emblazoned caps, the future of college stores faces many uncertainties. College retailers, however, hold advantages other retailers would give their right cash register for: a captive audience, a well-recognized local (or national) brand, and a steady stream of new customers who have little choice but to shop at your store, at least once in a while.

Park2Fly

Officials at Purchase College, State University of New York, as elsewhere, have sought innovative ways to keep tuition low and cut costs. One such effort is Purchase Park2Fly (PP2F), now in existence for a year. The program allows passengers at neighboring Westchester County Airport to park on the campus’ vacant parking lot, at a cheaper rate than they could get on airport grounds and with a shuttle that picks up and drops off passengers to the airport.

Washington and Lee University (Va.) and Unimarket, an eProcurement and eSourcing solutions provider, have signed an agreement to implement the complete Unimarket solution from eSourcing through eProcurement and eInvoicing.

Heartland Payment Systems’ Campus Solutions division has been awarded contracts by 12 higher education districts and campuses totaling 20 different colleges to manage financial aid disbursement and refund management with its electronic financial aid disbursement product. ... Higher One has entered into an agreement with Wright Express Financial Services Corporation, a provider of business payment processing and information management solutions. Wright Express Financial Services Corporation will establish and maintain Higher One’s OneAccount for a portion of Higher One’s customers.

With ever more affordable options available to them, a new report shows that students are spending somewhat less on average for their textbooks than in previous years. According to the Student Watch study conducted by the OnCampus Research division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), students spent $655 on required course materials this year, down from $667 two years ago and from $702 four years ago.

Leaders from 16 community colleges around the country gathered at the White House in September to participate in a roundtable discussion on the role community colleges play in America. The discussion was part of the Obama administration’s Champions of Change program, a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping to meet the many challenges of the 21st century. Education Gateways recently spoke to four of the Champions of Change honorees about the challenges and opportunities they face as presidents of their institutions.

Nelnet QuikPAY

Since the College at Brockport, State University of New York, began using the QuikPAY system from Nelnet Business Solutions, the school doesn’t hear complaints about bills for student account payments being lost in the mail. And, in the first month of use, there’s been a dramatic 475 percent increase in the amount of online payments collected, according to Teresa Major, director of student accounts and accounting services.

spotlight

Bill Cooper didn't mince words when Stanford University officials contacted him about coming on board as their director of purchasing. "I said, 'No, I'm not interested in a fragmented function and I'm not interested in an institution that has just a director of purchasing,'" recalls Cooper, who now has an office at ... Stanford.

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