Faculty Senate probes possible book contract

A one-stop shopping option for textbooks has become a hot topic for discussion at Missouri Southern.

Pearson, which also houses the imprints Addison-Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, Longman, Merrill and Prentice Hall, is courting a campus-wide contract to provide most of the textbooks and related technology for Southern.

Dr. John Messick, vice president for academic affairs, called the concept a “radically different” idea.

“This is brand new. We’re looking at all the options and we want to consider all the concerns and everything,” Messick said.

Books could be customized for courses and e-books would be a delivery option. Pearson also offers technology supplements such as video clips and podcasts.

“We think this at least deserves some review because it has the potential to save money for both students and the University,” Messick said.

The cost-saving measure could extend to the Web. A companion site to the publisher, eCollege, could replace Blackboard, a contract which increased $27,000 this year to $111,000. A change, if there is one, would not be immediate due to the Blackboard contract.

“The earliest possible time would be January of next year and I don’t even know if that’s realistic – if we were to go that way,” said Dr. Terri Agee, senior vice president. “The server space that we are utilizing is way beyond what we had originally contracted for.

“If you’ve got anything out there that does not have to be then now is the time to remove it.”

Faculty Senate will work with Messick in appointing a task force of Faculty Senate, faculty and administrative members to review the idea.

“I think we need to move ahead very slowly and deliberately,” he said.

The group will begin meeting early next year.

Messick said discussions with Pearson had not included an exclusive clause.

“I don’t think Pearson or any of the other companies that might be looking at promoting this kind of thing claims they can provide books for every single class, just the majority,” Messick said.

Senate members said they would take the idea back to their departments for comment.

“The ability to choose your textbook – to me – is close to sacred,” said Holly McSpadden, associate professor of English.