Speaking Out

Outsourcing and Quality

As a member of the University community, I have been following the ongoing discussion about outsourcing with some interest. While I do not minimize the University's need to cut unnecessary costs, Paul Lukasiak's letter ( Almanac September 24) seemed to me to be a compelling challenge to a flawed University process and not the "diatribe" John Fry labeled it in his reply. Mr. Fry's tactic of refusing to "dignify" the letter with a response leads me to believe that he is unable to rebut Mr. Lukasiak's detailed criticisms.

As for Mr. Fry's assertion that the Bookstore deal with Barnes and Noble will "provide Penn with one of the finest campus Bookstores in the country," I hope that will be the case. But my last few visits to the Bookstore have revealed significantly reduced stock on the shelves, with many long-stocked scholarly titles now gone and others being disposed of in a half-price inventory reduction sale. I fear that in its effort to transform the Bookstore into a "superstore," Barnes and Noble is showing insufficient commitment to the Bookstore's academic mission. If the arrival of Barnes and Noble drives the area's other serious bookstores out of business, the Bookstore deal will prove a net loss to the University, notwithstanding any additional revenues that may be received.

-- Peter D. Schneider, Assistant Director
Career Planning &Placement, The Law School

Response to Mr. Schneider

Our commitment from Barnes & Noble is that the Penn Book Store will continue to be one of the premiere academic bookstores in the country while, at the same time, significantly enhancing its selection of nonacademic books.

As part of that effort, the current "clearance" of older books will enable The Book Store to update and improve both its academic and nonacademic stock. In the new store, the space devoted to books of all kinds will be substantially increased.

My office, together with the University Council Bookstore Committee, will work closely with Barnes and Noble to ensure that the academic book selection in the Penn Book Store is appropriate for a university of Penn's stature.

-- Steven D. Murray, Vice President for Business Services


Volume 43 Number 7
October 8, 1996

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