Bookstore Advisory Committee Recommends Outsourcing

The Bookstore Advisory Committee, working since September 2009 on the question of whether the CC Bookstore operations should be outsourced or return to a self-operated model, on Dec. 10 presented a unanimous recommendation in favor of outsourcing.

The committee included faculty, staff and students. The CC Bookstore was outsourced largely because a local operation could not by itself compete with the economies of scale offered by national and international retailers providing a similar service. Validis Resources will operate the CC Bookstore.

After a year of staff reductions and $8 million in budget cuts, “the broad outlook for Colorado College is stable,” President Richard Celeste told attendees of an open budget forum at CC on Dec. 17.

While cautioning that the college’s financial condition is subject to economic changes, Celeste said he sees no reason for further staff reductions. “We are better positioned than many institutions,” he said.

Since last fiscal year, when an ad hoc budget planning committee tackled major cuts, the college has adopted new budget planning practices. The budget-committee approach was formalized, the budget approval time has moved earlier in the year, and more time will be devoted to budget development. The new permanent Budget Committee is made up of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and a trustee.

Indications that the economic picture nationally is stabilizing, plus signs of improvement on campus, led Celeste to express cautious optimism. The college’s endowment, which fell from its brief high point of $522.7 million to a low of $401.7 million during the stock market turmoil, has recovered substantially to a level of $458 million (as of March 1, 2010).

There are signs that the campus community has been spending carefully: The percentage of operating budget expended as of Nov. 30, 2009, was 40.5 percent, compared to 44.5 percent at the same time in 2008, and 44 percent at the same time in 2007.

Reducing positions and cutting $8 million in expenses resulted in a balanced budget for fiscal years 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012. The admissions office met enrollment targets and yielded a highly qualified first-year class.