The success of any Barnes & Noble College bookstore depends less on the business of selling textbooks than on the ability of the operation to support and complement the campus environment it serves. While being sensitive and proactive to the needs of the students, the bookstore also needs to support the goals of its faculty and administration and reflect the values of the institution.
At The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, one of only six Senior Military Colleges in the United States, the role of the bookstore is especially crucial to not only the academic success of the cadets, but as a reflection of the kind of military life the college exemplifies. “In 2010, we went from a self-managed bookstore to an operation managed by Barnes & Noble College, and since then, the relationship between The Citadel and the bookstore has just grown stronger,” explains Col. Tom Philipkosky, Senior Vice President of Operations and Administration, U.S. Air Force, (retired), “and that’s because of the leadership of Andy Beckwith.”
Recently recognized with a Campus Leadership Award at this year’s Barnes & Noble College Annual Meeting for his service to the campus, Beckwith’s store operates from Mark Clark Hall, the school’s equivalent of a student union. “Our store is unique because we operate in an environment of military discipline,” Beckwith explains. “Because of that, the cadets are required to live on campus for their four-year stay here and need to conform to the rules of a military campus life,” he says. As a consequence, The Citadel Bookstore takes on an even more important role in a cadet’s life — as a resource for everything from toiletries to military textbooks to a friendly welcoming face.
Reflecting the community it serves, The Citadel Bookstore carries several items not usually found on a college campus. Here, camouflage face paint; notepads that can be used in the rain, mud and harsh conditions of the field; and cloths for shining brass and shoes are just as important to the college mission as textbooks. But at The Citadel, even the process of cadets picking up their course textbooks during orientation is taken on with decidedly military precision. “During the entire week of orientation, every action the cadets take is planned,” Beckwith explains. “Book draw day, as we call it, happens in a single day when the cadets come into the store, military fashion, by company.”
To accommodate these kinds of requirements, the store has to prepare their operations with that same military rigor. Understanding those requirements has been crucial to the success of the bookstore. Col. Philipkosky cites Beckwith’s outreach to the various constituencies that make up The Citadel as part of the bookstore’s success on his campus, “Andy’s focused on taking care of the alumni, cadets, faculty, staff and prospective students — he takes care of all of that — and working with him is just inspiring for me,” he adds.
Last year, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Citadel highest among public institutions in the “Regional Universities – South” category, and supporting that success by mirroring the campus’s core values of honor, duty and respect, is a role Beckwith takes seriously. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a strong human element to management of the bookstore. “Life as a cadet here is very difficult,” points out Gino Galutera, The Citadel’s Director of Auxiliary Technical Services, “and having the Barnes & Noble bookstore here is basically a ray of sunshine for them,” he says. “When we bring a young person here it is a culture shock,” adds Philipkosky, “and sometimes for a young person who’s 18 years-old — and whose world has just changed — to spend a minute with them and show that you care, makes a difference.”
The decision to outsource The Citadel Bookstore to Barnes & Noble College has resulted in a positive collaboration — one that Beckwith has led by embracing the school’s mission and values. “It’s one of the smartest moves we’ve ever made,” said John Rosa, Lt. Gen., U.S. Air Force, and President of The Citadel. “He has the ability to build this team together as part of the Barnes & Noble family joined with The Citadel family — and that’s as good a partnership as we have on this campus.”