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Made in America

IHEs strive to ensure academic quality as they expand globally.

In theory, if you walk into a McDonald's anywhere in the world a Big Mac is the same. But does that theory hold true for degrees from institutions of higher education and, more importantly, should it?

American institutions with branch campuses overseas are saying yes.

"Many host (and source) countries seem to be increasingly concerned with the quality of transnational education."
-Line Verbik, Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

"They want us to do what we do best," says Andy Nazarechuk, dean of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas-Singapore campus. Charles Bowman of Texas A&M University at Qatar echoes the sentiment. TAMU's agreement with the Qatar Foundation specifies that the overseas program will be "substantially equal" to the program on the main campus, notes Bowman, the interim dean.

These leaders aren't talking about student and faculty exchange programs or a semester abroad. Their operations are full-blown, brick-and-mortar establishments, often with their own support staff, that offer full degrees. "It looks just like mine," Bowman says of the diploma certificate.

Overseas education, these institutions recognize, is a billion-dollar business. According to the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a U.K.-based initiative that tracks activities and developments crossing the traditional borders of higher education, there are an estimated 80 "branch" campuses operating in the world, with 50 percent being run by U.S. institutions. Institutions in Australia, the U.K., and Ireland are also pursuing these efforts.

As programs expand to overseas locations, concerns about maintaining quality standards grow. "Following few, but high-profile, cases of substandard provision, many host (and source) countries seem to be increasingly concerned with the quality of transnational education," says Line Verbik, deputy director of the observatory.

According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, 29 of 53 accrediting organizations that responded to a 2001 survey indicated they were operating internationally. Nearly one-third of responding organizations said they were accrediting U.S. institutions or programs operating outside of the United States. In other words, there is an interest in international quality review.

How are these reviews done? "We treat each type [of campus] the same way as we do U.S. campuses," explains Jean Avnet Morse, executive director of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one accrediting organization. "We expect all to be included in the institution's self-study report." Whether the commission is reviewing a U.S. institution (in the states or abroad) or a non-U.S. institution seeking American accreditation, Morse says, all of them "are held to the same standards. However, we review every institution, including U.S. institutions, in the context of its own mission and we apply our standards appropriately."

Obtaining accreditation is one more item on the checklist for IHEs opening branch campuses. It both protects the institution's reputation and makes the degree worthwhile for the students. Often the host country requires it.

TAMU, for instance, committed to seeking accreditation when it was invited to join Education City in Qatar, Bowman says. Established by The Qatar Foundation, Education City is a 2,500-acre campus on the outskirts of Doha that hosts branch campuses for five of the world's leading universities, as well as many other educational and research institutions. TAMU officials are finalizing their first report to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an accrediting body, and are waiting for their first class to graduate in 2008, so they can apply to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

UNLV leaders submitted the school's Singapore program to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in February 2006 and received approval in March 2006. The Singapore program is included under the accreditation of the main campus and will be included in the comprehensive evaluation scheduled for 2010. Singapore does not have an accreditation program, Nazarechuk notes, but the school is one of six that has been accepted as an "institute of higher education" there, which gives it the right to grant degrees. Educational institutions that have not received that ranking are limited to granting diplomas and certificates.

Having the host government's support often plays an important role in ensuring a program is successful. With Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) operations in Qatar, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Greece, Senior Vice President and Provost Mark Kamlet knows firsthand about government regulations. His Qatar campus is subject to the same requirements as Texas A&M. In Australia, a law that used to restrict the right to grant degrees to Australian institutions was changed, allowing Carnegie Mellon to set up shop. According to Kamlet, Australian officials have adopted becoming an education magnet for the Pacific Rim as part of the country's strategic goals. But in Greece, which still has a homegrown degree law, Carnegie Mellon gets a little rebellious. Although there is no chance for Carnegie Mellon to get local accreditation, the program is accredited by the Middle States Commission, which is fine with Kamlet, who adds that the name Carnegie Mellon is all students need.

Troy University (Ala.) officials are not quite so cavalier. "We would be reluctant to go in unless the degree is recognized by the host country," says Curtis Porter, associate vice chancellor for international affairs. As a cautionary tale, he offered that a British university once opened a program in Turkey that wasn't recognized by the government and the graduates couldn't get jobs. "You have to be sensitive to the local climate," Porter says. It's important to be recognized by the local government and any ministry of education in case the host country decides to start reviewing programs.

Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of Troy, explains that he and his colleagues assess the market in a potential country to make sure the degrees they offer will be used, but they are careful not to go beyond the standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' accrediting program. "The degree has to be quality," he says.

To achieve that goal, Troy has established one curriculum that's used worldwide. Troy has had an international presence since 1974, when it established programs on military bases in 10 countries. Although it still maintains some of those programs, it has expanded its civilian operations to various countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition to using a single curriculum, they involve their U.S. faculty in the overseas programs as much as possible. "We've been doing things at a distance for 40 years," Hawkins says. "It's part of the culture."

Using the same curriculum and faculty from the main campus are the two primary ways schools seem to maintain their standards overseas. Any changes to the programs offered are very minor tweaks. Quality control starts when a program is first suggested.

When Carnegie Mellon officials initially discussed a program in Australia, Don Marinelli, director of the Entertainment Technology Center (covering CMU's Pittsburgh and Australia campuses), says he "was adamant in stating that ETC-Adelaide had to be a genuine extension of ETC-Pittsburgh and not a lesser 'foreign campus,' per se."

"We don't cut them any breaks," Kamlet says of Carnegie Mellon's Qatar students. As a quality control check, the Qatar campus uses the same exams as the Pittsburgh campus. The curriculum is "exactly the same," but the students have fewer electives from which to chose because of the smaller staff. Although classes aren't modified, the Qatar students receive more attention from faculty than their main campus counterparts, partly because of the difference in learning styles between the two countries and partly because "they aren't used to how much work it is," Kamlet adds.

The admissions process is more involved in Qatar because the staff is less knowledgeable about the students' background and what aspects of their academic and extracurricular lives will make them successful in college. However, Kamlet says the Qatar Foundation has been insistent that no students are admitted because of family connections; Carnegie Mellon officials are happy to comply, as that practice could be bad for the school's reputation.

Bowman calls TAMUQ a "boutique operation." His faculty members give students more one-on-one time, which they can do because of a lighter teaching load compared to faculty at the main Texas campus. The admissions process is also different, requiring a personal interview and an English proficiency exam for every applicant. Although students sometimes need help with the language, he says their math and science preparation is "very good."

Texas law establishes a core curriculum every student must satisfy to graduate. They have had to modify parts of the health program to accommodate cultural mores, Bowman says. "We're trying to teach people good health habits, but there are some things you don't talk about in Islamic culture"-sexually transmitted diseases, for one.

The faculty is split between people from the main campus and direct hires. "We hire the same quality as the main campus," Bowman stresses. TAMU, like all the Education City schools, has academic freedom, as well as full control over faculty, admissions, and granting degrees. The Qatar Foundation reviews deans before they are appointed, and then reviews student performance, as well.

The Singapore Ministry of Education does review the qualifications of professors in its Global Schoolhouse-Singapore's initiative to draw world-class educational institutions and 150,000 international students to the country by 2015 in order to educate workers, boost the economy, and create jobs-as a way of ensuring quality. "It's a formality for them because the full-time faculty is qualified," says Nazarechuk. But the practice "protects UNLV's reputation too." They will be using a mix of U.S. and locally hired faculty.

Although the curriculum in Singapore is the same as that offered on the main campus, students can take a wider variety of general classes (i.e., humanities, fine arts, and natural sciences) not normally taken by local students. Nazarechuk explains that the Singapore education system is based on the British model, so student's studies are "more field specific." Admissions standards are the same for GPA, English proficiency, and years of education, putting local students at a disadvantage. "We increased the number of courses to provide them with access to these required classes; this way students can transfer in the courses that meet our requirements and take the classes that they need to obtain the bachelors of science degree here in Singapore," he says.

"Schools here are starting to adjust," Nazarechuk notes, with local students having the opportunity to take general courses at their local school, as well as realizing they should take them if they want to attend a U.S. institution.

So far, Carnegie Mellon has not had a problem with the differences in early education between America and Australia. "Since all ETC students in Adelaide are currently either from America or Canada, we are not confronting that issue at the moment," explains Marinelli.

Kean University (N.J.), which won't open its new campus in China until 2007, has already laid the quality ground rules. President Dawood Farahi says a signed agreement "contains a clear understanding that the university's curriculum is totally in the domain of Kean." All courses will be identical to those taught in the states, and newly hired faculty members will be properly credentialed and provided with cultural training. China will not be reviewing the professors' credentials. Although Kean officials worked with the government to establish performance measures for students, they are not adjusting the programs. But some course offerings may be different, such as the addition of Chinese history in place of a Western Civilization class. "It took a long time to explain why general education classes are important to a Western education," Farahi says.

"We're going to do it in an American way," Farahi says. From admissions and curriculum to guidance counselor access, Chinese students will have the same experience as their American counterparts.

Since 9/11, there has been a slowdown in students coming to study in America. Reasons range from travel safety concerns, to visa restrictions, to a desire to stay close to home where the economy is booming and there are job opportunities.

Although students may not want to travel to America, they can still get an American degree. UNLV's Nazarechuk points out that degrees from American institutions are well respected around the world. "Times are changing," he says. "We have to go to them."

Carnegie Mellon's Kamlet agrees. "A lot of other countries are growing good universities," he says. "For Carnegie Mellon to be involved in the future, we have to be a player now." And to remain players, IHEs have to continue to deliver the quality American programs students expect.

"I believe that we have received inquiries from all continents except the poles," says Jean Avnet Morse, executive director of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, regarding U.S. institutions getting involved in overseas activities.

According to Line Verbik, deputy director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, "the United Arab Emirates accounts for close to 20 percent of international branch campuses, almost completely due to the number of foreign institutions (currently 15) established in the educational free-zone Knowledge Village." Qatar comes in second, with approximately 9 percent, followed by Singapore, Canada, Malaysia, and China.

So, what are desirable qualities for a host country to have? Here's how a handful of U.S. institutions have approached their search for a place to set up shop:

Troy University (Ala.) looks for good local infrastructure, government support with clear regulations, locations that place a high value on American degrees, and qualified students who are able to afford the program. "We're a people university. We won't price ourselves out of the market-here or abroad," says Chancellor Jack Hawkins.

Kean University (N.J.) officials had affordability in mind as well when they decided to open a campus in China. Education is a commodity in China, President Dawood Fahari explains. "The value of higher education in China is different. The families start to save for higher education almost at birth." Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, where Kean's campus will be located, graduates 350,000 high school students, so there will be plenty of candidates. China requires foreign institutions to partner with a local university. "A lot of things in China are based on personal relationships and how people interact," Fahari says.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas leaders recognized that "any program overseas includes a certain degree of measured risk," says Andy Nazarechuk, dean of its Singapore campus. A number of hotel chains have corporate headquarters in Singapore, so the university knew there would be demand for its hospitality degrees. He says Singapore views education as an industry, so there is a large support structure. The support of the university's leaders in Nevada is as important as the support of the host government. "Parents want to send their students to a safe place for a good education," Nazarechuk says. Trust in the government, clear regulations, good infrastructure, cultural diversity, and a high percentage of English speakers won UNLV over. "And the food is great," he adds.

Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) recognized the great degree of economic growth in the Pacific Rim, says Provost Mark Kamlet. "It's part strategy, part opportunity." Demand for the degree, enthusiasm of the university departments that will be running the programs, and having a local champion, government support, and clear regulations make launching an overseas campus go more smoothly. "The most complicated [regulations] have been from New York state," he notes.

Everybody's Going Global ... Or So It Seems

Eckel says there are three models IHEs use when offering courses overseas:

distance education

"going it alone" with a branch campus or program

partnerships with local institutions

"The definition of a branch campus is still less than straightforward and lacks global consensus," says Line Verbik of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. Her organization defines it as an offshore operation of a higher education institution that fulfills the following criteria:

The unit should be an independent establishment operated by the institution or by a joint venture in which the institution is a partner (some countries require foreign providers to partner with a local organization) in the name of the foreign institution.

Upon successful completion of the study program, students are awarded a degree from the foreign institution.

Or, as Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet puts it, they can get a degree from "little free-standing mini-Carnegie Mellons."

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Lighting The Way

New services are bringing new vistas to campus.

Need to direct new students to unfamiliar buildings on campus? Nothing does the trick like a map. Now imagine that map presented in color and blown up to fit on a 42-inch screen. Add to this image descriptive headlines and text and changing inset graphics that can provide close ups of the section of campus where the building is located, along with pictures of the destination, and it's clear just how effective digital signage can be.

Digital signs started appearing on campuses a few years ago, with some promoting sales in bookstores and other retail outlets and others providing information for those passing through the student union or dining hall. In this fashion, higher ed was catching up to hotels, financial institutions, big box retailers, and other sectors that provide information to the public. Once these industries began showing how convenient it is to digitally change information and create a multimedia presentation that can grab attention much easier than paper posters and bulletin boards crammed with out-dated paper flyers, higher education administrators saw the logic in using this new technology.

It has helped that plasma and LCD flat panel screens are now more common and have come down in price. Spurring the trend, too, are new services that ease the headache of content management and planning for overworked higher ed public affairs and promotion departments.

"Our students are into gizmos and high tech, Digital signage gives you a connection to students that you can't get with other advertising." -Charlie Salas, Texas State University

Basically, digital signage enhances any area on campus where large groups of people pass by or congregate, says Rosemary Abowd, an analyst with Pacific Media Associates, a company that provides research on multimedia and large screen displays. (See sidebar on technology trends and pricing.)

Few people know about the technology's benefits better than Charlie Salas, associate director of the LBJ Student Union at Texas State University. He's a client of The University Network, or TUN (pronounced t-u-n), a digital signage service for colleges and universities. At TSU, 42-inch, flat panel digital signs that hang in the LBJ Student Center and the campus recreation center help promote campus activities and vendors. TUN, as well, provides national advertising aimed at students, and allows TSU to share in 20 percent of the national advertising revenue. "We receive a check for about $200 every quarter," says Salas, who adds that the impetus for installing TUN's digital signage system in 2004 was not really to make money. The real goal was to be able to more easily inform students about services and activities. Certainly, though, the revenue checks are a nice by-product of the digital signage installation.

Salas wanted to cut through the media clutter on campus and get students' attention. "Our students are into gizmos and high tech," he says. "Digital signage gives you a connection to students that you can't get with other advertising."

Texas State participates in one of two types of programs that TUN offers. While TSU takes advantage of the revenue-sharing model, the company also provides a separate service that does not share revenue, but instead, installs more digital signs on campus. The difference is one screen versus up to three per department, says Denise Stephenson, senior vice president of University Services for TUN.

In addition, TUN, which is a division of InFocus, provides creative and production services for its more than 160 higher education clients. Those who receive a portion of the national advertising revenue are guaranteed three new, 20-second spots per week, while those who have installed more screens can run up to five spots. These promotions are campus-specific.

Each week Salas and TSU staffers send TUN basic text, logos, and images related to the news and events they want to promote, and the TUN creative team does the rest. Of course, TUN can change information quickly if there is an emergency on campus.

"We can run public service announcements," explains Stephenson. Last year, the company created informational spots for campus customers affected by Hurricane Katrina. It also has created missing persons announcements.

The benefits for TUN are obvious-by signing on college and university clients they can deliver the college audience to national advertisers, such as 1-800-Flowers, The Gillette Company, Paramount Pictures, and Columbia Sportswear. But the program also helps colleges and universities that might not be able to pay the estimated $25,000 to purchase and install several flat-panel displays, nor be able to pay the additional cost to install the creative and content management software.

While Salas doesn't offer any bottom-line ROI metrics on the digital signage's effectiveness, he does have a telling anecdote. A national ad for cellphone ringtones featured a hard-to-forget-one might say obnoxious-jingle, he recalls. "People were humming that stupid song throughout the building," he says. That day he made a mental note that digital signage is definitely reaching the TSU audience.

St. John's University (N.Y.) took a different approach one year ago, when staff there decided to install digital signage. Instead of having an outside service handle the content, the team there brought it in house. St. John's signed with NEC to purchase five, 46-inch LCD digital signs, which were up and running in January, along with the creative and management software that drives the digital signage system.

To date, St. John's has spent $82,885 on its digital signage program, which its technical staff views as a larger investment in technological innovation.

"We put these in high traffic areas where students pass through the lobbies," explains Joseph J. Tufano, CIO for Information Technology at the university. Those specific areas include the University Center, the dining hall, and the library. A team of people, led largely by Joanne Novarro, director of internal and external communications, changes the creative everyday.

"This is really a challenge," Novarro admits. But an ever-flowing mix of digital media is a necessity on campus. "Students today are really savvy and we have to constantly change the content, or we will lose them."

Since installing digital signage, the team at St. John's has produced some ambitious segments. Coverage of a campus Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 25 included live broadcasts that featured survivors and their families.

The team has also altered digital signage to speak to varied audiences. For example, welcoming signage for an accepted students day-where those contemplating enrolling at St. John's were on campus-was edited to list the differing undergraduate majors offered on the Queens and Long Island campuses. Other notices and campus maps also were broadcast to help make the day easier on the newbies.

Digital signage also is used to notify students of emergencies or schedule changes, such as campus closings because of bad weather, notes Tufano. This is a strong point of the NEC system. The company recently announced a partnership with XTEND Communications Corp. to be able to push digital signage content such as emergency text messages to cellphones, e-mail clients, even PDAs. NEC is calling the service its Emergency Campus Notification Solution.

The new technology allows users to reach students and staff who might not be near a digital signage screen, or even on campus.

The University of Connecticut has set its three new 42-inch Sony LCD digital signage screens in the Neag School of Education to receive cable TV feeds, says Gary Hendrickson, the school's director of technology. "There is a network on campus that carries 82 cable channels," he explains. The connection allowed students and staff to watch live coverage of the recent terrorist plot involving commercial airlines that was uncovered in London.

Of course, most coverage is not so urgent, yet important to running a smooth campus operation. Notices that welcome new education students, instructors, and visiting department lecturers are interspersed with announcements about student activities.

The web production team has the "right eyes" for creating
digital signage spots.

Sports news is also a popular feed, especially with many Red Sox fans on staff.

The creative is managed by a browser-based software that allows for content editing and broadcast scheduling. Janis Palmer, the school's communications director, either directly creates the material that is eventually broadcast, or reviews everything and gives a final OK.

The digital signage was added when the Neag School of Education underwent a $350,000 renovation two-and-a-half years ago, explains Hendrickson.

"This was part of the planning from the beginning," he says. "We spent a lot of time looking into the future and asking: 'Where is technology going to be?'"

Like St. John's, UConn is also looking to take the logical next step, which will be to push the digital signage information to iPods, cellphones, and other individual devices. A scan of campus will show that at any given moment most students are using cellphones, PDAs, or MP3 players.

"We are looking to keep up with students; they are innovators," Hendrickson says.

Wiring the Dining Experience

IHEs fuse food and technology to keep students happy and entice new ones through their doors.

These days, young adults are instant messaging their friends as fast as they're calling each other on cellphones about something someone just downloaded to a video iPod-all while eating takeout food that was ordered online.

They elevate the walking-and-chewing-gum thing to a whole new stratosphere.

As Millennials go through college, their techie ways are changing how institutions of higher education interact with them-and feed them. Dining services departments across the country are putting the internet and related technologies to use in ways that would've made Buck Rogers proud, and full.

Today's web kiosks, podcasts, websites, and digital signs aren't themes for some sci-fi television show-they're reality.

To see where food services is going, take a quick glance back in time to when things were simple: when operating hours were posted on a cafeteria's exterior doors, when a deep inhale revealed what food was being served, and when, if a class ended after the kitchen shut down, students were basically out of luck.

Were students simpler in those days? Probably. Satisfying Millennials means giving them what they want, when they want it. And technology can play a crucial role in making that happen. "My generation goes online; our students live online," says Charles Maimone, associate vice president for Administration at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Today's students have a greater need for constant information and access. Their desire to know not only what's in their food but also from where it comes rules many of their daily dining decisions. "In my opinion, students are much more astute regarding food and food options these days," says Dean Lowden, vice president of support services for Chartwells Higher Education Division, a food services provider to some 235 campuses across the country. "They're very familiar with brands, and quality," says Lowden.

Colleges and universities are turning to technology to make students' dining experiences as streamlined and fulfilling as possible. Bolstered by start-to-finish programs from companies such as Aramark, Sodexho, and Chartwells, as well as software tools developed by colleges themselves, IHEs have many options for coupling tasty treats with useful technologies.

Of course, higher education is not the only realm ripe for pairing food services and technology. Many private-sector restaurants are employing high-tech tools to improve their customer experience.

Look no further than Legal Sea Food's newest baby, LTK Bar and Kitchen in Boston, for proof. "LTK" stands for "Legal Test Kitchen," and in this case the kitchen's not testing food but innovative technologies.

"Video menuing" screens provide
a refreshing change from the
paper-clad bulletin boards of old.

A glance around LTK's swank dining room shows several faces alit with the glow of Sony LCD touch screens no bigger than sheets of paper. Folks watch baseball and surf the internet. A server gives a tech tutorial to a diner, and soon she's fiddling with the kids' website "Club Penguin" while someone else logs into a Netflix account.

The restaurant's servers scuttle around with personal devices that they use to transmit orders to the kitchen. Some diners hook up their own iPods to docking stations provided by LTK.

It's all very technical, yet completely comfortable and-at 10:30 p.m.-completely full.

With such private-sector efforts aiming to entice students, "universities have to be competitive and utilize dining halls to [do] that," says Michael Paulus, a resident district manager for Chartwells. Dining services, says Paulus, "is the biggest bang-for-buck, reaching every student."

Forcing healthy eating onto an 18-year-old is like whipping a chronic procrastinator into shape by handing him a planner and an organizing system, right? Not always.

Chartwells has actually had the opposite issue on its hands: Students today demand tons of nutritional knowledge. The company and its client schools have faced "a constant request for nutritional information," says Lowden.

That's why providing nutritional information has been a driving motivator behind Chartwells' Pulse On Dining platform, designed by the company through a partnership with LifeCourse Associates, the consulting company of authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. The platform incorporates technology through a system of web-based kiosks that display menu options, dining hall hours, and nutritional information, typically at points of entry to an institution's dining facilities. Marywood University (Pa.) was Chartwells' first school to implement Pulse On Dining in September 2005; today the platform can be found at 60 IHEs, from Purdue University (Ind.) to Berkeley College (N.Y. and N.J.) and Canisius College (N.Y.), with some 170 more planned for the next few years.

Here's how it all works: At the kiosks, students can use a touch screen and check their meal plan balances, see the day's menus, or even send a special dietary request or feedback to the dining director. A password and log-in system lets them create nutritional charts for themselves and track nutritional intake throughout the day, including calories, fat, and protein.

As part of the Pulse On Dining platform, Chartwells' DineOnCampus.com website mirrors what students see at the kiosks. By visiting the dining link on their school's site or by going to DineOnCampus.com and choosing their school from a pull-down menu, students can access information from the privacy of their dorm rooms at any hour of the day.

Chartwells' technological tools provide an opportunity for point-of-sale purchases, too: The company partnered with Dancing Deer Baking Company (founded by Wheaton College, Mass., graduate Trish Karter), to develop SendMunchies.com, a website that lets students buy gift items such as all-natural, handmade brownies, cookies, and cakes. The items are promoted as gift possibilities that could be sent to loved ones, friends, or colleagues.

Of course, tech tools can be put to different uses, depending on the needs of a campus and its students. At the University of Utah, one of Chartwells' first client schools to go online with DineOnCampus.com about a year and a half ago, kiosk and website use are king-but so are visual graphics and individual iPod docking stations that promote campus-specific podcasts announcing daily menus and campus activities.

"With this demographic, we really have no choice," says Paulus, who works with colleges and universities in Utah and Colorado. He has implemented LCD "video menuing" screens and video welcome boards that greet students at points of entry to dining halls, displaying real-time menu options, similar to the information boards found in airports.

With such techie tools in play, the University of Utah has been able to cut its printing costs by about $4,500 (those printed materials also inundated students with so much information that they would just ignore it, Paulus says).

Now, Paulus gives an image file to the Utah marketing department. Soon after, the image goes up on screens. That's a refreshing change from the paper-clad bulletin boards of yore. "We're just bringing about the tools and technology our students are using every day," Paulus says.

Eighty-five percent of the College of William & Mary's 5,000 undergrads live on campus. As a result, says Maimone, the school's associate VP for Administration, dining services have to keep up with what is an increasingly sophisticated clientele, a group that responds best to having lots of healthful, ethnic food choices that are prepared at open cooking stations (rather than carted out in aluminum warming trays from some secret room out back).

With sophisticated palates comes a need for sophisticated ways to satisfy them. Enter CampusDish, a program launched by Aramark Higher Education in 2006. CampusDish includes an internet portal that offers nutrition and dining information; the program can be accessed from students' personal computers or through well-placed web kiosks in dining facilities.

"We're particularly proud of William & Mary because the idea of CampusDish came out of a graduate student project two years ago," says Dominic L. Boffa, CIO of Aramark. "They actually gave us the suggestion, and how it should be used."

At William & Mary, wireless dining halls give students access to the CampusDish website from their personal computers; at dining sites, students can respond to surveys (created by the school) about dining services, and add money to or change their meal plan accounts.

By using a student ID card online and at the school's first kiosk, which in August was placed in front of the University Center Court (one of two dining facilities), a student can also purchase food items-even order a Domino's pizza-with the cost being automatically deducted from a meal plan account.

CampusDish is now operating at more than 140 IHEs across the country, and more than 80 web kiosks will debut at Aramark schools this fall. One growth area for many of these schools: food-related podcasting. At the close of the academic year this past May, there were some 53 podcasts about menu options, dining services hours, and everything in between being broadcast at Aramark client schools.

The University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Furman University (S.C.), and East Carolina University have all launched podcasts filled with dining information. At East Carolina, a range of 34-second to two-and-a-half-minute podcasts have covered topics such as "Transfat 101" and "Commuter Meal Plan at East Carolina." Each podcast has been accessible via Apple's iTunes.

At a brainstorming session of a student board of directors for the food and facility management company Sodexho USA, students admitted that after waking each day, they often have about 20 minutes to get to class. That means choosing between showering and eating.

Their ideal? An LCD touch screen in the bathroom that would let them order their breakfast, which would then be delivered to the seat of their first class. "But it would have to be something with a not-too-strong aroma as not to intrude on their classmates," says Jeff Pente, senior director of culinary development and systems for Sodexho.

Daffy desire? Maybe. But Pente says anything is possible with the right imagination and technology.

Click on the home page of Sodexho's Balance Mind, Body, and Soul program and you'll find a laundry list of health-related links that today's mindful student wants, from food facts, recipes, and a nutrition calendar to a Body Mass Index calculator, information about special diets, and an opportunity to talk online with a dietician.

Food-related podcasting is one growth area for many schools. Topics range from meal plan overviews to lessons on transfats.

Created to provide information promoting balance through healthy living, Balance Mind, Body, and Soul can be accessed online from any computer or at a web kiosk in a dining hall.

The program is in 800 of Sodexho's schools and has been at Lehigh University (Pa.) for two years. There, the mind and soul parts of the program force a strong push toward organic foods: Student surveys helped Lehigh include on its site and at kiosks information on sustainable farming and other details about the process of growing and making healthy foods. "Balance Mind, Body, and Soul, is more of a way of life and living, and helps us all with busy day-to-day conflicts," says Bruce Christine, general manager of Dining Services at Lehigh.

Students can walk up to a flat LCD screen and be tempted by beautiful graphics of food. The graphics entice students to click on links and learn more information about things like dark chocolate, stone fruits, and pomegranates-tasty things that make them feel great.

But the program also allows students to access information on staying fit, both mentally and physically. Reading about the benefits of pickup basketball or relaxation exercises to calm the mind are just a couple of possibilities. Students need to de-stress, and that "can be as simple as a 15-minute [break] at the end of the day," says Jodie Stancato, unit marketing specialist for Dining Services at Lehigh.

Students at Ouachita Baptist University (Ark.) can also tap into Balance Mind, Body, and Soul information through a new web kiosk on campus. Some students have seemed a little wary of using the tool in high-traffic areas, notes Ron Cooksey, general manager of Dining Services.

As a result, the kiosk is located in a cozy spot. "We made it into a den area, near the kiosk, with chairs that made it more comfortable," Cooksey says. Students are able to access sensitive information about caloric intake and other topics with a sense of privacy and comfort.

At Cornell University, a homegrown program called Webfood, developed by Cornell alum Peter Krebs and four business partners in 2002, encourages students to order food ahead of time from their computers. Webfood allows Cornell Dining to control the number of online orders it accepts at any given time, so that excellent service to students in dining lines is not jeopardized by long waits-which back in Kreb's day could be up to an hour long.

According to Colleen Wright-Riva, director of Dining and Retail Services, Cornell launched Webfood at Bear Necessities & Caf? on the first floor of the Robert Purcell Community Center. Student response was so strong that in 2003, Webfood was bought by Ithaca-based CBORD Group, a company that provides food service software, nutrition service software, campuswide ID card programs, cashless dining, and housing management systems. Nine other IHEs purchased the Webfood program this past summer alone.

Also at Cornell is the six-year-old in-house web-based program called E-Dining. Geared toward staff and faculty but available to all, the program allows users to place orders, schedule food pickups or deliveries, and pay for food on the internet from Ciabatta's or Martha's Caf?, two campus eateries.

The goal of Cornell's programs is to streamline life on campus. "Our intent with both Webfood and E-Dining is to provide ease of ordering and convenience to our customers," says Wright-Riva.

So, technology is here to stay in the food services realm. Dining directors and staff should still keep up face-to-face contact with students to balance out tech tools (and make sure students don't become obsessed with eating or nutritional information, which could be a sign of possible eating disorders).

Cooksey at Ouachita Baptist says keeping a watchful eye on students is something he and his chef do daily, largely by engaging in conversations in the dining facilities. "We know who's eating, and not," he says.

Paulus of Chartwells notes that dining builds community and invites students to come together. Lowden agrees. "There's a place for technology, but it's certainly not going to take the place of socializing."

Technology implemented in the dining realm is like that used in any other area of campus life-it can give students a sense of knowledge, empowerment, and efficiency, but it also requires a human touch. That, and some delicious food to back it up.

Jennifer Chase Esposito is a Boston-based freelance writer who frequently covers food-related topics.

Beyond Baldrige

What the first institution of higher education to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has learned in the five years since.

It was a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award first: an institution of higher education receiving the honor. In the third year that institutions in both K-12 and higher ed became eligible to apply for the award, the University of Wisconsin-Stout was named a recipient. And in the five years since, the institution has continued to grow.

Lessons in Landlording

Managing an institution's real estate assets requires careful planning and thoughtful problem solving-all while keeping the school's mission in mind.

Mobile Technology: One For All

Emerging dual-mode phones give students a single device to manage all their voice and data needs.

Wake Forest University students have a firm grip on the future of technology. Indeed, up to 500 students at the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based institution are expected to use dual-mode phones that support cellular calls and IP communications this fall.

"You can surf the web and view video over WiFi or make a cell call from a single device," explains Jay Dominick, chief information officer and assistant VP of information systems, adding that, in previous years, the school has done personal digital assistant projects. "PDAs were useful, but if students were going to carry one thing we knew it would be a cell phone. That's what students ultimately want: one device for all their mobile needs."

That's for sure. As students moved from e-mail to instant messaging (IM) to short message service (SMS, a.k.a. text messaging) on digital phones, Wake Forest quickly realized that mobile phones would need to tie into the university's broader IT strategy, says Dominick.

"Students with dual-mode phones will be able to talk to each other a lot more over WiFi networks without using up their
cellular minutes."
-Chellappa Kumar, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

That set the stage for dual-mode phones. Though still in their infancy, the devices may reshape cellular, WiFi, and mobile applications across university campuses. As dual-mode phones mature, they will be able to seamlessly connect to WiFi or cellular networks, based on the user's location and the relative signal strength of each network.

University CIOs from across the country have high hopes for dual-mode phones. "They'll be key devices for community building and collaborative learning," says Chellappa Kumar, CIO of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. "And they'll deliver financial savings. Students with dual-mode phones will be able to talk to each other a lot more over WiFi networks without using up their cellular minutes."

Just ask David Hattey, president and CEO of FirstHand Technologies, about the monetary benefits of these devices. Hattey estimates that he saved his company $1,500 in cellular roaming charges during a recent business trip in Europe. His dual-mode phone, which has cellular and WiFi capabilities, logged more than 17 hours connected to WiFi hot spots across Europe.

Admittedly, Hattey has a vested interest in dual-mode's success. The Ontario-based company develops multimedia client software for smart phones, WiFi handsets, and emerging dual-mode devices.

Despite their promise, dual-mode phones also come with cost, network, application, and device challenges. For starters, many dual-mode phones cost $500 or more. The average price, though, could drop to $400 each by 2008, according to the research firm Access Intelligence.

Most dual-mode phones are untested in college and university environments, and dozens of devices have yet to emerge from Silicon Valley development labs. In some cases, interoperability issues have slowed or halted device development.

For instance, Cisco Systems and Motorola last year partnered to design a dual-mode phone that connects to cellular services as well as Cisco's enterprise IP phone switches. But based on publicly announced design plans, prospective customers complained that the devices likely wouldn't interoperate with other vendors' networks. Cisco and Motorola ultimately scrapped their joint development work in April 2006. Cisco is now working with Nokia on standardized dual-mode phones that will likely ship before year's end.

Other challenges loom. Institutions of higher ed will need to ensure that dual-mode systems provide ample bandwidth, security, coverage, and seamless handoffs between cellular and WiFi networks, notes Peter Brockman, senior VP of business development at FirstHand.

Wake Forest has already witnessed these challenges. The university has tested Cingular's 8125 smart phone, which allows students to make cell phone calls or, when in a WiFi hot zone, surf the web and view streaming video. Overall, Wake Forest officials are very pleased with the devices and upbeat about dual-mode's promise.

However, Dominick concedes that additional device and campus network enhancements are required to unlock the full power of dual-mode phones.

For instance, students who use the devices to place calls over the school's WiFi network will notice inconsistent or subpar service. "It's not fully baked yet," says Dominick. "Students can get Skype client [software] for the smart phones. This will let them place calls on the WiFi network but the quality isn't there yet. The service doesn't roam real well as you move between [WiFi] access points."

Brockman has observed similar challenges with dual-mode phones. "On the application front, you'll need to ensure seamless links between call servers, mobile devices, cellular services, and the public telephone infrastructure," he says. "Dual-mode phones also come with device-specific challenges related to battery life, radio performance, screen size, storage, processor performance, and memory."

In other words, dual-mode phones will require extensive testing-much in the way that WiFi networks and laptops required careful consideration back when wireless networks first came onto the scene.

Still, proponents insist that WiFi's popularity and students' growing interest in all-in-one mobile devices will drive dual-mode phones to mass popularity within two years.

"I don't know if it's 12 or 18 months until the devices [offer seamless roaming for WiFi and cell networks]," says Dominick. "But it's certainly not far beyond that."

Other college leaders agree. Kumar at NYCOM, for one, has high hopes for leveraging the institution's WiFi infrastructure, which currently delivers streaming video and other academic content to student laptops. As students begin to embrace dual-mode phones over the next year or two, the devices will "immediately leverage our WiFi infrastructure to receive academic content and university announcements," predicts Kumar.

The dual-mode phone revolution is already underway in Asia. Consider the situation in Taipei City, Taiwan. Under the city's "Taipei Easy Call" initiative, more than 200,000 people are expected to use wireless internet phones and Skype by the end of this year, according to a statement issued by the Taipei Computer Association. In Europe, BT Group (formerly British Telecom) and Orange-a major WiFi service provider-expect to release dual-mode phones later this year.

"I don't expect us to buy dual-mode phones for our students. I think students will already have them when they enroll."
-Jill Cherveny-Keough, New York Institute of Technology

And in the United States, 76 percent of large companies expect at least some of their mobile workers to use dual-mode phones within the next three years, according to Access Intelligence.

Companies such as Rave Wireless are introducing next-generation mobile phone services for institutions of higher ed and their students. At Montclair State University (N.J.) for instance, students and officials can use Rave's wireless service to track the exact location of campus transportation vehicles. The university also conducts in-class and remote interactive polling over the service. And students can use their mobile phones to gather localized information, such as nearby restaurant specials or real-time updates from the campus library.

Instead of deploying dual-mode phones on their own, many IHEs instead plan to support devices that students purchase on their own. "The consumer market moves really rapidly," notes Jill Cherveny-Keough, director of academic computing at New York Institute of Technology, which has three campuses, one in Manhattan and two on Long Island. "I don't expect us to buy dual-mode phones for our students. I think students will already have them when they enroll."

NYIT students with dual-mode phones and the appropriate network security clearance can instantly utilize the college's WiFi network. "It's more than a device for chatting," says Cherveny-Keough. "Students can check in on their online courses, view e-mail-and even make free phone calls home to mom and dad. You can expect students would gain more efficient use of their cellular plan. Dual-mode phones will cut [calling] costs for sure."

Even at institutions that aren't quite ready for dual-mode phones, IT administrators can take gradual steps today to ensure that their network infrastructure supports future dual-mode rollouts.

Wake Forest, for instance, last year became the nation's first test ground for combination PocketPC phone devices on a college campus. The project-known as Mobile University, Mobile You-is now open to all students, faculty, and staff of the Reynolda campus for the fall of 2006.

Program members receive discounts on voice and data plans; discounted purchase price for the Cingular 8125; and access to custom software developed for members of the pilot program. A voice-enabled laundry service, for instance, tells students when their laundry is complete. Based on that test bed, Wake Forest this fall is rolling out up to 500 of these devices to students.

Wireless and mobile device experts praise the mobile computing program for its vision. "Wake Forest has deployed one of the most progressive, forward-thinking [wireless device] implementations," says Robert Liu, executive editor of TMCnet, a portal that tracks mobile and wireless trends. "That is a solid foundation to build upon."

Naturally, university IT managers will need to master multiple technologies in order to optimize applications for dual-mode devices. Experts recommend learning about Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which is rapidly emerging as a standard for rich IP communications. SIP can be used for all real-time services such as instant messaging and web-based conferencing. If legacy applications such as voice services don't currently support SIP, university officials should contact their application vendors to see if they plan future support for SIP.

Higher ed officials can see dual-mode phones in action at Voice over IP and cellular conferences-or reach out to networking partners such as Cisco and offer to beta test their dual-mode devices while they're still under development. This will offer a feel for a device's strengths, weaknesses, and potential applications.

Concludes Cherveny-Keough: "Dual-mode phones are inevitable. Why carry your PDA, laptop, and cell phone, when all you would need is one device?"

Joseph C. Panettieri is VP of editorial content at Microcast Communications (www.microcast.biz). He has covered Silicon Valley and vertical markets since 1992.

A Greener Attitude

Our new survey results show environmental awareness is driving purchase decisions for facilities construction and products and services

Not Your Typical Textbook Advice

Campus bookstore directors and administrators offer 20 strategies for keeping up with online textbook competition.

Rich Hershman found himself in the usually welcoming Commonwealth of Virginia when he experienced the conversation that many bookstore managers and administrators dread.

Hershman, director of government relations for the National Association of College Stores, had set up a meeting with a legislator to talk textbook pricing. The legislator told Hershman that his daughter, a college student, was buying all of her textbooks from her school's campus store, then finding and purchasing as many of the same books as possible online-before returning the doubles back to the campus store.

"That's got to be killing you guys," the legislator said. Hershman stopped himself from launching into a lecture. "I wanted to say that it's also contributing to higher costs in higher education," Hershman recalls. "You are going to find the most liberal return policies around at college stores."

Faced with continually growing online competition, college store directors should by no means overhaul their business models. Nor should administrators expect to reap great profits from their campus stores; the average margin on course books for college stores is about 26 percent, according to NACS.

Yet the continuing emergence of websites that provide cheap access to textbooks, as well as other shifts in the market, mean that it's time for college stores to get serious about batting back the competition.

According to a recent survey conducted by Follett Higher Education Group, which runs more than 750 college stores and sells used books and other services to independents, about 19 percent of students surveyed opted to buy at least one book online. According to the same survey, about 11 percent of all textbooks are purchased online (including from a college store's site).

"We still think there's room for it to grow," says Gary Shapiro, senior vice president of intellectual property for Follett, referring to the percentage of books purchased online. "We're saying somewhere between 15 and 20 percent is where it's going to start to level out." Online competitors won't likely overtake campus stores, but they can take a sizable bite out of business. "The 11 percent is roughly $700 million," says Shapiro. "A small percentage of a large number is still a large number."

Over the last year, national media attention and public statements from legislators and policymakers haven't exactly helped the situation for campus bookstores. A July 13 article in The Washington Post mentioned six websites at which students could try to find discounted books (www.campusbookswap.com, www.textbookx.com, www.half.com, www.bigwords.com, www.bestbookbuys.com, and www.amazon.co.uk).

Add in last year's Government Accountability Office report, which found that textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation, and college stores have had some public relations trials on their hands.

Ready to move forward, college stores face new opportunities to keep students coming through their doors. Here are 20 strategies being put to use by bookstore directors and administrators around the country. Consider how each could help keep your textbook business turning.

Pamela Mills has seen the online enemy firsthand and has found ways to combat it. "There is an increase in folks who want the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and we know why they're doing that," says Mills, director of the CU Book Store at the University of Colorado. "They want to go look online."

While it's not the bookstore's job to police whether faculty point students toward online sources, the CU Book Store has a policy that faculty members must give their textbook adoption information to the store, says Mills. For most faculty that is a given, she says-but having the policy in place re-emphasizes current practice and lets people know the importance of turning in their lists.

Reaching out to faculty members represents a priority for many store directors. The University of Colorado's bookstore staff produces an annual fair for new faculty. "It's a one-stop shop," says Mills. "They get information that they might not have otherwise picked up, and they get it all in one place. It also gives us a chance to see who they are, talk to them, and hand them information from the bookstore specifically that talks about adoption and why we need to do what we do."

While CU hasn't tracked data on the success of the faculty fair sponsorship, Mills believes that new faculty members who have attended the fair are more receptive to the bookstore's adoption deadlines in subsequent years.

Peg Godwin, manager of the University of Idaho Bookstore and a member of the Board of Trustees for NACS, works upward with administrators as well as outward with faculty members. "We contribute in the range of $600,000 a year to the institution, and we are an $8 million store," she says. "So it's important for us to talk with the administration about how to position the bookstore so the faculty is engaged with us and is doing business with us, as opposed to doing side deals here and there."

Godwin and bookstore staffers also like to identify professors who are utilizing interesting course materials and models, such as e-books. The bookstore team then tries to support those models and connect with faculty on the content they're looking for, says Godwin. That helps keep the bookstore relevant.

For the University of Delaware Bookstore, part of a proactive approach has been getting student government involved in communicating with faculty.

"Students have become involved in getting orders for us," says Bookstore Manager Jennifer Galt. Members of the Delaware Undergraduate Student Congress have sent letters to faculty members explaining to them that getting adoption orders in (and in on time) would help all students get more money for their books during buyback.

Textbook adoption timelines play critical roles for stores and students alike. When faculty members get their book orders in late, bookstore managers and directors have their hands tied in terms of how many used books they can buy back from students. "Getting adoption out of the faculty members' minds and into our hands is one of our greatest challenges timing-wise," says Mike Tolly, director of course materials for Follett Higher Education Group. Follett encourages staff at its campus stores to gain faculty support, whether by sponsoring guest speakers in classes or offering scholarships.

Follett also teaches staff at its stores to run a program called "One-A-Day," based on the multivitamin concept. The goal: for bookstore managers and staff members to have at least one conversation with a faculty member each day. "It builds bonds and influences how they are talking to students," says Gary Shapiro, senior vice president of intellectual properties.

Behind the drive to compete lies the need to provide stellar service to customers. Textbook reservation programs, in which students go on the bookstore's website in advance of the semester and reserve course materials to be packaged either for pickup on campus or delivery to dorms or apartments, go a long way in creating that satisfaction.

Based on the multivitamin concept, the
"One-A-Day" program at Follett's campus stores encourages bookstore managers and
staff members to talk with at least one
faculty member each day.

Many bookstore directors are working on developing programs like the one at Gettysburg College (Pa.), which makes the textbook purchase process neat and easy by delivering textbooks right to students' rooms or apartments. Director Kimberly Wolf attributes the quality of her store's program in part to the college's size (about 2,500 students). Stores on larger campuses might not have the ability to deliver, but they can still create impressive programs that have books bundled and ready in store when students arrive.

Prospective students and incoming freshmen can be perfect targets for bookstore promotional campaigns. Michelle Froese, public relations manager for Student and Auxiliary Services at the University of Missouri-Columbia, says bookstores should be stops on campus tours. She also notes that during orientation at Mizzou, the bookstore provides canvas bags for incoming students. "It's free advertising," says Froese. "I love to see 5,000 students going through summer welcome walking around with their bookstore bags."

When students prepare for a new semester they also do some online research. With that in mind, Nebraska Book Company, which operates about 140 campus stores and sells books to 2,500 college bookstores nationwide, recently launched a partnership with Pick-a-Prof, a website that collects student reviews of faculty members.

Through the partnership, students can order textbooks from the campus bookstore right when they choose their courses. If the bookstore uses NBC's CampusHub system, students have the ability to click through to the school's online store, where the correct textbooks are automatically populated into a shopping cart.

Other marketing opportunities have arisen from the partnership. When Pick-a-Prof e-mails students to remind them to provide feedback on professors, the note includes a message urging them to participate in buyback and to buy next semester's books.

Aggressive on the internet front, Nebraska Book Company is also looking into the existing campus blogging community as a realm for promoting campus stores, according to Kevin Gish, vice president of campus relations for NBC. "It's yet another internet tool to drive traffic toward the store," he notes.

"We are encouraging sellers to have a very effective website," says Sue Reidman, NBC vice president of corporate communications. "You want to make sure that you have a site that is driving [students] to purchase there, as opposed to going to Amazon or Half.com.&quot;

Beyond blogs, a store's website must have other ways to pull customers in. The University of Idaho Bookstore maintains a robust website that offers a deep level of service. The site's "textbook express" function allows students to type in their course registration information so that a list of the books they need will pop up on screen.

Once students see their lists, they encounter several options in terms of what type of texts to buy. "We are adding a digital component, working with Nebraska Book," notes Godwin, the bookstore's manager. "It's essential that the student has a choice to buy a digital version of the book, that's generally priced around the price of a used book. It is an option that's out there and we need to test that market."

Speaking of digital books, DeVry University, one of Follett Higher Education Group's biggest customers, has already moved all of its online students to digital versions of textbooks, or e-books. Follett's online arm, eFollett, has handled more than two million chapter downloads over the last 18 months-the equivalent of 100,000 units sold, according to Shapiro.

Campus stores might want to get ready for growth in the e-book sector. "We've done a lot of research with students on their desire for e-information," says Shapiro. "In a nutshell, we think that between 10 and 15 percent prefer a digital product over a print product. But we think that upwards of 40 percent might be interested in it."

"Right now the critical thing to do is to offer students an option," he adds. "Do they want it new, used, digital, digital by chapter? Offering more choices to the students will keep a lot of business in the store."

At the University of Delaware, old-school customer service strategies have been expanded in recent years. Here's a simple but valuable one: Be where the customer is.

During buyback, bookstore staffers set up remote buyback locations in key spots on campus. A mobile buyback van then travels around to make the process of selling back even more convenient. "It gives us some flexibility to get to where the students are on a particular day and time," says Galt, the bookstore manager.

Price undoubtedly motivates many students more than anything. Last year, with support from top administration, Galt helped institute a lowest-price guarantee for all textbooks sold by the University of Delaware Bookstore. Now, if a student finds a book at a lower price at a brick-and-mortar competitor (but not online), the bookstore will match that lower price-and then reduce the tickets on any remaining copies in the store.

Clearly the folks running the University of Delaware Bookstore know that money talks: They recently opted to double the money they offer students for used books during buyback. "In the past year, primarily because of lowest-price guarantee and the doubled price for buyback, we've seen our sales improve significantly," says Barbara L. Kreppel, the university's associate vice president for Administrative Services. "Much of this is thinking in the same way as any kind of retail. You have to know what your customer wants, be where they are. It would be easy for us to be the only game in town, but we're not."

"We thought it seemed like a lot of these students who would buy online were the ones who would try to be the first ones to sell back," says Doug Mason, manager of the Brigham Young University-Idaho University Bookstore. In 2005, the university launched a Textbook Loyalty Program that tracks student buying. Bookstore staffers swipe students' I-cards when books are purchased, and again during buyback. Students who purchased from the store are given the opportunity to sell their books back sooner, and for more money.

According to Mason, the program has improved customer attitudes and had a positive impact on market share. In a survey, 75 percent of students said they liked the idea.

As more people go online to buy and sell books, campus store directors are concerned about a diminishing supply of used books. Wolf of Gettysburg College browses online competitors to ramp up her own inventory of used books. Since classes at Gettysburg tend to be small, Wolf has been able to locate books to fill many faculty requests.

Some folks take Wolf's strategy further: At a recent conference, Wolf heard one bookstore director talk about how he peruses websites to find cheap books, even if a faculty member has not yet put in an adoption request for the title. "He will buy books to get them off the market," shares Wolf. "He said, 'Why do we want to make it easier for our students to say the bookstore's not the cheapest game in town?' "

Parents and students, fueled by reports in the mainstream media, generally believe textbooks are just too expensive. Lorry McMahon, bookstore manager for the Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.) Bookstore, works against that mindset by doling out brochures from NACS answering the question, "Why do my textbooks cost so much?" The pamphlet breaks down the textbook pricing process to give students and their families valuable knowledge," she explains. She also points out that money made at the bookstore goes back into the college-and therefore ultimately benefits students.

Pricing is just one challenging situation that bookstore managers and directors face. But with proactive mindsets and the right strategies in play, they can ease worries all around.

It's time to forget about competitors such as Amazon UK, and focus on the future.

Summer Conference Report

Three major higher ed organizations converged in Honolulu to discuss the 'Campus of the Future,' while financial aid officers took the pulse of the economy.

Summer is usually the time for vacations, but for those in higher education, it's a time to mix business with pleasure at annual conference sites around the country. July saw two major events: the annual NASFAA conference in Seattle, and the joint NACUBO, SCUP, APPA "Campus of the Future" conference in Honolulu.

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