Ask Inside: Committee reviewing Bookstore RFP

Questions are flowing in to Inside NAU about parking and other issues. Beginning today, we’ll answer your NAU-related questions in “Ask Inside.”

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QUESTION: Why don’t you print something about the outsourcing of the NAU Bookstore? Not just the administration’s point of view, what’s happening to the employees?

ANSWER: The bookstore has not been sold to any national chain, regardless of the rumors that are circulating around campus.

As reported in the June 1 edition of Inside NAU, NAU has issued a “request for proposals” for operation of the NAU Bookstore and will outsource the operation if an analysis of the bids indicates that outsourcing is advantageous to the university.

If a contract is awarded, the bookstore would be staffed by the contractor. Because the current 28-member staff would no longer be NAU employees—even if hired by the new bookstore contractor—they were informed in early June of their layoff rights, which include a minimum 60-day notice.

The RFP contains language requesting that bidders include information on staffing and the possible inclusion of current NAU employees. A member of Human Resources is on the committee that will award the bid and is specifically charged with analyzing that aspect of the bids.

If any employees are not hired by the new contractor, the Coconino County Rapid Response Team, which includes NAU representatives, would help them find new positions with a variety of companies in the area, including the university. NAU also will write letters of recommendation as well as encourage any NAU hiring committee to give consideration to any laid off employee who meets minimum qualifications for any on-campus job.

On-campus forums are planned for individuals to meet and discuss the bookstore operation after the committee chooses the finalists.

The university anticipates a change in bookstore operation will result in improved operation for students and faculty, better merchandise selection, closer connections to a national brand and, perhaps, an improved facility. More than half of the nation’s collegiate bookstores are outsourced—second only to food operations.

Under the current Bookstore arrangement, Distance Learning students are the most difficult to serve. However, the national chains bring more comprehensive online services for distance students, including buyback.

A committee that includes faculty and student representation is evaluating the responses. The successful vendor should have operations in place by the start of the spring semester.

Q: I have recently seen the rerouting plan for traffic on North Campus. Can you explain please how faculty, staff and visitors to campus who arrive from the north and east will access parking (and the buildings) for the School of Communication, the College of Education, Geology, and the Library?

A: Drivers will need to take either San Francisco south to University or enter the campus through Riordan or University on the west. Notices about the change have been in Inside NAU and mailed to all faculty, staff and students. The new routes are a change for everyone, and if any serious difficulties arise, they will be examined for possible changes.

Q: I am a concerned employee, and just have a question. When both thruways were open on campus (San Francisco and Knoles), there was gridlock at certain times of the day on both routes. I was wondering what plans the president or university has to aid in this issue since San Francisco will be the only way through campus. I am imagining an incredible gridlock over there. This leads to concerns with employees and students on timely arrivals to class and work duties. Please let me know if there are any plans that will help with this. I have students asking me and would like to give them a solid answer.

A: On the first couple of days of the change—Aug. 28 and 29—San Francisco was congested, especially in the afternoon. It’s not unusual for the first few weeks of the fall semester to be especially crowded on streets and in parking lots.

Capital Assets staff is monitoring traffic to see how it flows before, during and after regular business hours. As stated above, if serious difficulties arise, changes may be implemented.

In the meantime, Parking Services has instituted a “taxi service” for faculty and staff. With 20-minute notice, Parking Services personnel will provide free door-to-door rides for work-related meetings on campus.

Arrangements for pick up can be made by calling the dispatch center at (928) 523-9066.