The university is now accepting bids for a new bookstore for the first time in ten years. Tree of Life Bookstores, the school’s current provider, is allowed to submit a bid for the space.
Julie Hendryx, interim vice president for business and finance, said they are not getting rid of Tree of Life but are looking for potential ways to improve the service to students.
“It’s good management to put any contract out to bid,” Hendryx said. “We have not done that, but Tree of Life has been invited to participate in the bid process. They will likely submit their bid.”
She said Tree of Life has committed to service and innovation, but “we’ve certainly had some service issues.”
“Dr. Emberton is challenging us to make sure we are getting the best service and value for our students,” she said. “We’re certainly trying to make sure we are getting the best service we can for students.”
Textbook Butler, a new service for students to have their textbooks purchased for them, was met with mixed reviews. Hendryx said the system played a factor in the decision to accept bids for the bookstore.
“It is no secret that Textbook Butler did not come out of the gate with flying colors,” Hendryx said. “Tree of Life has made some changes already for spring semester to help with some of those issues we had.”
Lisa Snyder, manager of the bookstore, said that Tree of Life hopes to remain with the university.
“TOL’s owners, management and local employees love being a part of the HU campus,” she said. “We sincerely hope to be able to continue serving the students and faculty in the future.”
Junior Morgan Tracey said she hopes there will be a new bookstore provider.
“I’m excited because Textbook Butler was awful,” she said. “Tree of Life always says they have the best prices for me to sell my books back to them, but it’s never true.”
A selection committee consisting of staff, faculty, administration and students will assist the process. Requests for proposals will be sent out to companies in the next couple weeks, Hendryx said.
“I would anticipate that we would know who our provider for next year will be by mid-January,” Hendryx said.
She said she wants the rental program and charging books to student accounts to remain for the bookstore.
“I want students to get the best service they can,” she said. “I want the best possible pricing options for students and the best service to be in the campus bookstore … I believe Tree of Life offers good programs, but we have not tested the waters for several years, so we don’t know what other companies have to offer.”