The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees has authorized NMU to enter into contract negotiations with Barnes & Noble College to operate the on-campus bookstore. A university committee unanimously selected Barnes & Noble from among three vendors that responded to a request for proposals last fall.
One of the major factors in the decision was the ability to rebrand the bookstore with the Barnes & Noble name. Others included the company’s proposed capital investment to make improvements to the space; the potential for sales growth; the commission percentage and financial return to the university; decentralized buying capabilities of local bookstore managers; campus engagement and marketing efforts Barnes & Noble provides; and the strength of the company’s technology and outreach to compete effectively in the challenging textbook and course materials market. Barnes & Noble College also indicated it will allow current bookstore employees to be interviewed and given first consideration for continued employment.
The review committee included representation from administration, athletics, student activities, a business faculty member and ASNMU.
“The business model for university bookstores is changing rapidly,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for finance and administration. “The online competition, downward gross margin pressure and reduced financial contributions are impacting universities throughout the U.S. In Michigan, 11 of the other 14 universities already have an external provider.”
Trustees also authorized the NMU administration to proceed with new academic and athletic logos. A special meeting of the board is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 6, to vote on the final designs. The process was initiated last summer. NMU contracted with an outside firm, Rickabaugh Graphics, to submit initial ideas for a new graphic identity for general university use and an updated Wildcat logo and lettering for athletics. More than 500 people gave feedback in focus groups composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The designs will be refined for the special meeting of the board in April.
In other action at today's meeting, the board:
-Approved the University Realignment Plan and the revised entry and search policy for residence halls and on-campus apartments;
-Approved the promotion of Dale Kapla to associate provost for Academic Affairs, effective Jan. 11, 2016;
-Granted professor emeritus status to Auragzeb Syed be granted the status of Professor Emeritus of Political Science, effective March 1, 2016;
-Accepted external gifts of four vehicles presented to the automotive service technology program;
-Granted authority for the purchasing manager and/or risk insurance manager to accept gifts of personal property required to be registered in the State of Michigan on behalf of the university.