Follett selected to manage University Stores

This message is provided by Hof Milam, the senior vice president for finance and administration:

University Stores and its employees have served our campus well for many years.  However, in the face of a rapidly changing industry and declining financial performance, the University had to begin considering other service delivery models earlier this year.

After careful consideration, the University has selected Follett Higher Education Group to manage all University Stores locations beginning this summer.  Follett, the nation’s largest operator of college bookstores, serves more than 5 million students at more than 1,600 physical and online stores and employs approximately 10,000 associates worldwide.  Follett has longstanding relationships with many colleges and universities, including Stanford, Boston College, Georgetown and Kentucky.

The selection of Follett was made following an extensive request for proposal process. The University considered proposals from three management companies, as well as a presentation by our current management team. In the end, Follett’s proposal offered the greatest financial improvement to the University, substantially better than our current self-operating model.  Contracting with Follett also mitigates the University’s risk in attempting to compete in the increasingly digitized campus bookstore business.

The Strategic Resources Initiative Steering Committee of faculty, staff and campus leaders was consulted prior to the administration’s beginning the request for proposal process. The committee was supportive of considering a management company, and stressed its desire that every effort be made to ensure continued employment and benefits for University Stores employees in the event the management company model was chosen.  Follett has agreed to:

  • Guarantee employment for all full-time Stores employees for a minimum of one year at their current pay rate and number of hours.
  • Recognize years of service at Wake Forest as “years worked at Follett” for purposes of determining benefits eligibility and level of benefits.
  • Offer immediate eligibility for health care benefits, without exclusions or waiting periods for pre-existing conditions.
  • Seek University approval of any changes Follett wishes to make to positions or reporting structure during the first year of the contract.

The Follett contract also calls for the formation of an advisory committee of faculty, staff, and students to assist Follett in understanding the specific needs and expectations of our campus.  The names of the Stores locations will remain the same, and departments, faculty, and staff will continue to receive discounts. The Stores will continue to offer course materials, apparel, other goods, and gathering spaces.

We greatly appreciate the leadership and contributions of University Stores staff who continue to work diligently to serve our campus. We look forward to working with Follett to meet the needs of our campus community and will appreciate your support as we transition to new management this summer.