The Walsh College Bookstore, located in Troy, Michigan, has long since evolved from its transactional role as simply the textbook vendor for the school’s campus. It’s now a place where the store hums with the activity of special event nights, while also engaging students through a raft of social media initiatives, promotional email campaigns and a student mobile app, as well as making the purchase of textbooks simpler and easier through registration integration and a real-time student financial aid module.
Yet, and even as the store seeks to become an even stronger support system for the school, Bookstore Manager, Jessica Wojcik, still felt it was important to reach out to a particular segment of the Walsh College community. “I think we have a good relationship with faculty here,” she concedes, pointing out that nearly all of the College’s textbook adoptions come through Barnes & Noble College’s innovative online platform FacultyEnlight, “but I really wanted to bring our faculty together with some of our major publishers and our bookstore staff to help them better see us as a partner and a resource,” she says. And from that aspiration, the first Faculty Focus event at Walsh College was born.
Working with the Dean of Admissions to promote the event to all full-time and adjunct faculty, Wojcik and her team knocked on doors, sent out emails, and talked about the event at every possible opportunity — and were rewarded with a solid turnout. On hand at the event were representatives from Xanadu, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson to meet with the teaching staff and answer questions on a range of academic publishing questions. The bookstore offered refreshments and a video presentation of FacultyEnlight, and attendees were given flash drives pre-loaded with information on the platform. “It was a great opportunity to reach out to a wide range of staff — including many of the adjunct professors who are instrumental in making suggestions or recommendations, particularly for new classes,” Wojcik recalls, “and it enabled them to see the kinds of resources that might help them, such as textbook pricing, and what options — rent, buy or digital — might be available to their students,” she adds.
That opportunity to learn more about FacultyEnlight proved a particular draw for the event. “Those who weren’t already familiar with it were impressed that they could compare the cost of similar textbooks and select a title that might be a better alternative, cost wise, for their class. I don’t think they expected anything quite that robust,” Wojcik says.
FacultyEnlight is already supporting Walsh faculty with tools to assist in implementing the school’s textbook adoptions in time for the first day of priority registration. “They’re loving the concept of FacultyEnlight,” remarks Monique Cardenas, Walsh’s Director of Academic Administration on the school’s adoption of the system. “It’s made the process of textbook adoptions so much easier than before, and we’ve hit our adoption target every semester since introducing FacultyEnlight,” she adds.
Wojcik and her staff at the bookstore are already seeing the fruits of the event, and the benefits of a deeper relationship with the school’s faculty. “We’ve had a lot of really positive responses, and now when we see professors in the store, it can be the start of a deeper kind of conversation,” she notes. “We can greet them by name, anticipate a question about a specific course book and get a much better understanding of where their information needs lie,” she says, adding, “and they understand we’re here for them and for their students.”
Some of those needs revolve around cost concerns, and promotion of the bookstore’s rental program has resulted in a 58 percent increase in rented textbooks over last year, resulting in the kinds of savings that are important to Walsh students. Dr. Ann Saurbier, Clinical Professor of Management at Walsh College found another way to lower the cost of learning materials. “We took advantage of the information on FacultyEnlight, and by using source material from several different textbooks, were able to produce a custom book that significantly reduced the cost for my students — and that’s a huge advantage,” she says.
As Walsh College begins a new school year, it does so with a better understanding of the role the bookstore can play in supporting both their students and faculty. By easing the textbook selection and adoption process, some of those conversations at the store’s Faculty Focus event might just make for an easier Rush period for the school. But this school year, it does so without Wojcik, a recipient of the 2015 Barnes & Noble College Campus Leadership Award, who has gone on to a new role as store manager at the Barnes & Noble at Oakland University.
Her new role however, is not likely to dampen her efforts to build links to faculty. “It’s important that we embrace the campus presence outside of the four walls of the bookstore, and as store managers, find ways to know what’s going to work best for our campus,” she says. “Once faculty understand that their bookstore is part of the process, then ultimately everyone wins.”