“To the Faculty –

Please take a moment to read this important, message about a directive we’re now operating under regarding the timely submission of textbook orders by faculty members. The unfortunate length of this communication is necessary to fully apprise you of the background and issues at hand.

Background

For several years, all universities in the SUS system have operated under a directive to have textbook orders available for students 30 days in advance of the first day of classes each semester. This directive is reflected in Florida Statute Section 1004.085(3), Board of Governors Regulation No. 8.003, and USF System Regulation 3.029.

This past fall, USF was audited by the State to determine its compliance with this mandate. As a summary of the findings, the audit determined that for Fall 2012, 7,216 textbooks were listed on the bookstore website; of these, 1,661 (23%) were posted late (inside of 30 days). For Spring 2013, the figures were 2,059 of 6,677 (31% late postings). The university and bookstore did a thorough review of why book orders were submitted and posted late, and provided a detailed set of reasons. Of the late postings, the majority were attributed to submissions by faculty who had knowledge of what classes they would be teaching the subsequent semester, but still submitted after the 30-day deadline.

As a result of these findings, the auditors issued a recommendation that USF enhance its monitoring practices to achieve a smaller number of variances from the 30-day requirement. Please know that we fully understand there are a number of reasons for late textbook order submissions that are simply unavoidable. However, in our response to the audit, the university made a commitment to achieving a higher rate of compliance by focusing more effort on that which we can control.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, the purpose of the multiple regulations was to afford students an opportunity to shop around for textbooks and therefore obtain the best deal they can. You may not be aware that there is a Textbook Affordability Program in place at USF to help students in this pursuit. If you’re interested, check out: http://tap.usf.edu/.

What Happens If USF Remains Out of Compliance?

No one knows for sure at this point, but it is certain that it won’t be anything good.

Going Forward

Unluckily for them, much of the responsibility for monitoring the submission of textbook orders will fall on the chairs/directors. We’ll be issuing more regular reports of textbook order submissions, and asking chairs/directors to keep abreast of how well the department is doing in meeting its obligations. Please save them the pain of having to nag you or put you on the list of late submissions they’ll have to compile.

We’re also partnering with the bookstore to assist in their efforts to get the orders posted in a timely fashion. In turn, the folks there have committed to making the process as straightforward as possible for faculty to place their orders, and to work closely with chairs/directors to be sure that listings of required textbooks are correct. As an aid that you may find useful, bookstore personnel strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the resources available at the following site: https://www.facultyenlight.com/?storeNbr=22. This site has a feature that allows you to directly place an order from there.

Immediate Deadlines

Summer 2014: March 1, 2014 (We know that the summer schedule is still under construction and this will be an impossible deadline to meet for many of you. We’ll just have to do the best we can under the circumstances, so please submit your order as soon as you know what class you’ll be teaching.)

Fall 2014: April 1, 2014 (ditto)

Why such early deadlines? These are the dates to which we are contractually committed to Barnes & Nobles for submission dates. The bookstore has asked for these early dates because it provides them with ample time to have some sense of demand for the next semester. This allows them to offer students better prices on their buy-backs (we’re told as much as 50% of the purchase price). To reiterate, we recognize that providing this information in a timely fashion is going to be a considerable challenge for the summer session.

30-Day Rule Deadlines

Summer 2014: April 9 [note: This is 33 days out from the May 12 start date of Summer sessions A&C in order to give the bookstore two week days to get the orders loaded on the website.]

Fall 2014: July 23 [33 days out from the August 25 first day of Fall classes to allow for two days of posting]

Additional Issues

All faculty members are required to submit their textbook orders to the USF Bookstore. You can also submit your orders to any other bookstore vendors if you choose, but should do so following submission to the USF bookstore. If you are not using a textbook, it is very helpful for the bookstore to be informed so that can be posted on the bookstore website.

Why is there a requirement to submit to the USF Bookstore? Student aid is typically issued after drop/add; however, there is an advance purchase plan that allows students to acquire textbooks in advance of receiving their aid. This advance purchase is available only through the USF Bookstore. Otherwise, students must pay out of pocket or wait until classes are well underway to be issued a cash disbursement that will allow them to make the purchase. (If you’re interested, the program is described here: http://usfweb2.usf.edu/finaid/bapp.aspx.)

This raises another issue. Even if you don’t require a textbook, you may require purchase of other materials such as a course pack. If the students cannot obtain that material in the bookstore, they can’t use the advance purchase option. As well, requiring a purchase exclusively at off-campus vendors poses a challenge for students with limited mobility, including students with disabilities. To be clear, there is nothing that prohibits you from submitting materials to external vendors; in fact, the USF Bookstore regularly supplies its own list to other bookstores. However, whatever materials you do require should also be available through the USF Bookstore. The Bookstore will work with you to facilitate this. Let me emphasize that this issue is brought to your attention as a matter of financial necessity and convenience for many of our students.

Parting Thoughts    

Admittedly, there are a lot of moving parts here, and it will be quite the task to address all the complexities involved. However, the good news is that we’ve seen some improvement in timely orders for Spring 2014, so we’re moving in the right direction. Your continued cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and happy ordering.”

Dwayne Smith
Senior Vice Provost & Dean, Office of Graduate Studies