Responds to criticism they didn’t consult faculty on the change
By Isaac Robinson
In October 2019, UVU signed a five-year contract with MBS Direct, a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble, making them the sole online textbook retailer for students.
The contract, which is still being implemented campus-wide, removes textbooks from the UVU Bookstore and moves all sales to MBS Direct’s online platform, with the school maintaining control over the rest of the bookstore.
When fully implemented, any students who buy their textbooks through the school will now go through MBS, rather than through the store. Any purchasing will be done through the online portal and delivered with flat-rate shipping. The portal will also give different options for buying books, including new, used and other third-party options.
According to Jacob Atkin, associate vice president of finance for the university, the new system will make things easier for professors setting their curriculum. Rather than having administrative assistants go to each professor and compile needed materials, professors now have the ability to set their own texts within the back end of MBS.
The site will also provide different texts with comparable price points, Atkin said.
The contract was initially met with concerns from members of the faculty senate, who were not consulted before the contract was signed, leading to concerns over possible infringement on academic freedom after receiving access.
“The primary concern was that there should have been more conversation before a contract like this was signed,” faculty senate president Anna Arendt said.
In addition to the faculty senate, the academic affairs and academic IT departments were also not consulted, according to Associate Provost Kathren Brown.
The academic IT department is working to implement the new system, but because their software is proprietary, IT is hoping people will remain patient while everything is being set up, Brown said.
“In hindsight, [we] definitely should have engaged with them more actively,”Atkin said. “It certainly would have helped to eliminate a lot of the concerns that took extra time and work to resolve after the fact.”