Monday, December 21, 2020

HSU Ends Agreement with University Center

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 4:18 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University and the California State University system have ended an agreement with the nonprofit University Center to run a number of campus programs, including CenterArts and the bookstore, according to a news release.

Services provided by the University Center will move under the umbrella of the Division of Enrollment Management and the Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports Department as of Jan. 8.

The release states that of the six “serious breaches” outlined to the University Center board in September, “just two of these breaches were addressed in a satisfactory way, making it necessary to end the operating agreement with the University Center.”

Find HSU's letter to the UC board at the end of the story.

Read the full HSU release today:
After careful consideration, the California State University and Humboldt State University have decided to formally end the CSU’s operating agreement with University Center. The decision was shared in a letter to the University Center Board of Directors today. Summary information is in the frequently asked questions.

All services provided by University Center will continue under the direction of HSU as of the close of business on January 8, 2021. At this time, the functions of the University Center will transition to HSU under the oversight of the Division of Enrollment Management and the Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports Department.

In this transition, it is immediately important to prioritize continuity of dining services for students. HSU is a member of a competitively bid cooperative agreement, and is utilizing that to enter into a short-term agreement for dining services with Chartwells Higher Education through June 2022. Chartwells is committed to working with University Center employees and local vendors, sustainable business practices, and evolving the dining program in alignment with CSU’s and HSU’s vision for the highest quality of services to HSU students.

The University is working to preserve a significant number of UC employees, and it is committed to retaining all student employees who desire to continue working. Chartwells will offer positions to UC Dining employees conditional upon a background check. Associates will be offered compensation and benefits equal to or better than what they currently have. Chartwells will also look to honor existing partnerships with local vendors.

The University is focused on continuity of service and making this transition as easy and seamless as possible for employees and students. Anticipated annual operational savings associated with the transfer of functions back to HSU will be directed to improved student services and student-serving facilities.

Numerous improvements directly impacting the student experience are planned for the Spring semester and, especially, for the Fall semester with the anticipated return to full in-person learning. HSU has entered into a short-term agreement with Chartwells to ensure continuity of dining services through June 2022. A vendor will be sought before then for a longer-term partnership to deliver dining services. Chartwells will offer positions to University Center dining employees and will honor existing partnerships with local vendors.

The HSU Bookstore will continue to be managed in partnership with Follett, with oversight from the Division of Enrollment Management. There will be no changes or interruptions in services.

CenterArts and oversight of the University-owned student union building will be moved to Enrollment Management. Priorities will include expanding campus programming and events, enhancing the quality and responsiveness of student services, and continuing to offer engaging community programming.

Center Activities and oversight of the Student Recreation Center, Humboldt Bay Aquatics Center and the Recreational & Wellness Center will be moved to Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports. These areas will benefit from enhanced offerings to students as well as enhanced operational efficiencies and compliance.

Today’s letter to the University Center Board reiterates six serious breaches that CSU and HSU previously outlined in a letter to the University Center Board in September. It says that just two of these breaches were addressed in a satisfactory way, making it necessary to end the operating agreement with the University Center.

“The CSU has carefully weighed the options available to it and considered the longstanding relationship between the UC, HSU, and the CSU,” the letter states. “HSU has entrusted the UC to provide critical functions to the HSU community and its students, including dining, recreation and wellness services, and performing arts. The CSU regrets its conclusion that the requisite trust necessary between campus and auxiliary has been irreparably broken through the UC’s breaches of the Operating Agreement, failure to cure, and failure to perform. These recent breaches also do not appear to be isolated incidents of mismanagement within the UC. The UC continues to suffer from a number of operational deficiencies that expose the UC, and by extension HSU, to potential liability. These gaps include control issues that have been raised with the UC in prior audits, yet remained unaddressed.”

The letter also makes clear that CSU and HSU made the decision with reluctance, and that the University Center’s work over many years was appreciated. “We extend our deep and sincere gratitude to the University Center administrators, staff, student employees, vendors, and partners for their years of service, commitment, and dedication to the campus community and beyond.”
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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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