Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia and founded as a graduate-level only institution in 1977, Regent University made the decision to open an undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences in 2004. That choice quickly expanded their enrollment, which now sits just shy of 7,000 students, half of which take all of their classes online.
That enrollment increase and online presence mean that Regent University has had to change the ways they do some things in order to adapt to their still-new circumstances. One recent, and significant change, has been the decision to repurpose their on-campus bookstore space, and switch to a strictly online bookstore model. That decision will come to life when Regent’s new online bookstore within Blackboard debuts in mid-July.
The new online bookstore is being implemented as part of a partnership with MBS Direct, who will serve as the school’s primary course material supplier. When asked why Regent chose the option they did, Executive Director of Students Services Carolyn Hughes said that the decision was rather simple. “What we liked most was the integration with Blackboard. Students are used to doing everything within Blackboard already, so it just made a lot of sense to us,” she said.
This is a fairly significant transition away from their previous fulfillment method. According to Hughes, while their previous setup did include an online component for students to purchase textbooks, those orders had to be filled through their on-campus store, which ended up putting an unnecessarily heavy burden on those employees. That, combined with a steadily increasing student population, played a significant role in their decision.
“Our enrollment is increasing exponentially at the moment,” Hughes said. “We knew that we needed to get to a better operation to meet the needs of our students. The on-campus store was not going to be able to support that.”
For students and the majority of Regent faculty, that decision to repurpose the campus bookstore has created a fair deal of excitement, as the school has big plans for the store’s old space. "We are converting that area to a coffee shop and lounge," said Hughes, while also joking that people are so excited for coffee, it helps take the sting off of losing the physical bookstore.
Overall, Hughes seemed confident that the transition will go smoothly and end up being a helpful resource for Regent students. The campus faculty has taken everything in stride thus far, and Hughes said that they won’t be fazed when the bookstore finally goes live in a few weeks.