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Weekly Update

Monday, January 25, 2010  
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Bookstore sees changes with evolving technology 
A message from Robert L. Head, Ph.D., President

Dear students, faculty and staff:

A couple of decades ago, the landscape for retail bookstores began to change dramatically with the explosion of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and other large chains. Smaller, independent stores found themselves at a competitive disadvantage and industry consolidation was inevitable. The same situation occurred on college campuses with large providers replacing college-owned booksellers. The evolution continued with the advent of online providers. One began to wonder how a campus bookstore could survive with the rising costs of textbooks and the growing options available to students. Clearly, a different business model was necessary.

Digitization and electronic books create opportunities to drive down costs for textbooks. It is not unusual for a college student to spend close to $1,000 on textbooks for an academic year. According to the National Association of College Stores, textbook sales and course materials exceeds $5 billion annually. The association reports that while electronic textbooks represent only 2 percent of sales today, the number will grow to 15 percent by 2012.

Amazon’s Kindle has been used by six universities this academic year in a project to determine its appropriateness for higher education. One major drawback has been the limited integration of software to assist the disabled. The deficiency is significant enough that the U.S. Justice Department became involved and brokered a settlement last week between the universities and two organizations representing the blind and visually impaired, bringing an end to the experiment until the deficiency is remedied.

In the face of this nearly revolutionary shift in the industry, I asked Dawn McCrary, manager of the Rockford College Bookstore, to comment on Follett’s current and emerging business strategies to remain the leader of campus bookstores. A condensed version of her remarks follows:

"Today’s choices have expanded to include options ranging from textbook rentals and online purchases of physical textbooks to eTextbook downloads and other digital course materials. With textbook costs increasing some 6 to 7 percent annually, students are becoming more selective consumers. Follett is experimenting with a new in-store option: textbook rental, now a pilot program at 19 colleges and universities across the country. Typically students renting a book in Follett’s program will pay at least 45 percent less than they would a new book. Follett Higher Education Group’s goal is to significantly increase the number of participating stores by Fall Rush 2010.

"As a pioneer in online textbook sales in the mid 1990s, Follett was ahead of the e-commerce curve when it launched in 1998. At virtual checkout, buyers can choose to have their books shipped or to pick them up in-store. 

"As for digital course materials, Follett has seen steady growth in a diverse set of digital applications from its publishing partners. Follett has strengthened its digital position through selling of eBooks in our stores utilizing an Adobe ireader. It has now acquired Café Scribe, an online site where students can browse, purchase and download eBooks required for their classes and participate in virtual study groups. A free digital content reader called MyScribe, developed by the creators of Café Scribe, allows students to highlight and annotate the digital text much like they would with their physical counterparts. Currently, a program called Try Now, Buy Later 2010 is available exclusively through Follett’s new Café Scribe eBook platform, which allows the evaluation, download, and use for seven days of more than 4,000 titles for free. Additional information can be obtained by visiting your campus bookstore. Just one more way to show Follett’s attempt to improve products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace.”

We are fortunate to have Follett as a partner and I look forward to the innovation that they will bring to Rockford College.

Have a great week!

Robert L. Head, Ph.D.

RC team among those carving ice sculptures
Rockford College was well-represented at the 24th annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition this past weekend at Sinnissippi Park in Rockford. Students Sable Matula and Nathaniel Branch along with alumnus Andrew Skupien worked overnight Friday to complete their work for judging. Their piece, "Who Are You?” did not win a prize, but the group put forward a fine effort. See a photo and story on the group here

Instructor uses wireless device to engage students
Nursing professor Thelma Warner is using a wireless system called "iclickers” in her classes to let students become more active learners through hand-held devices transmitting to her computer. The clickers allow students to anonymously vote on questions threaded in lecture Powerpoint slides. After voting is done, a graph can be displayed showing class responses. This is useful for discussion. For instance, she had students in groups of 4 to 5 with one iclicker and used that with a client case study. Professor Warner reports that student response has been positive. The system was purchased with a fellowship grant she received. 

College to expand nursing program 
An expansion of the nursing program at Rockford College will essentially double the number of students that can be accommodated from 40 to 80, helping to alleviate a severe nursing shortage and providing students with more educational options. Previously, the nursing program only admitted a nursing cohort in the spring semester and nursing courses were offered one time per year. With the change, it will now add a second admission point in the fall as well. The move is expected to help ease a critical shortage of nurses in the area.

College starts social network exclusively for admitted students
RC is launching a new social network called "Regent Community” this week that will allow newly-admitted students to meet one another, ask questions, meet prospective residence hall roommates, and generally to get to know the college better before they arrive for classes. The new tool is much like Facebook but on a smaller scale. "Regent Community” joins other innovations the college has created, including a Facebook page, online live chats with counselors and a Twitter account, all among the first created by any college in the Rock River Valley. Taking the lead on the project is Cassie Swanson, marketing director, with Gale Wallace, Web site administrator. 

Revised mission/vision being developed
The college has been working for about a year on developing new mission and vision statements to reflect our evolving role in the community and beyond. This has been a broad-based effort in which all faculty and staff and community and business leaders have been invited to participate. The clarified vision and mission will provide a long-term perspective on who we want to be as a college and the strategies to accomplish the same.  

Prof. Warner attends technology conference
Thelma Warner, nursing, attended the 4th National League for Nursing Technology Conference at Johns Hopkins University College of Nursing in Baltimore recently. Highlights of the conference included a tour of the college’s simulation laboratory, and sessions entitled "Handheld Computer in Classes and Clinical," "Classroom Response Systems: When Everything Just Clicks," and "Incorporating Authenticity and Complexity in Sim Scenarios.” The opportunity was funded through the IBHE fellowship Professor Warner received.

College promos continue on radio
Announcements promoting college events continue to run on WTPB radio, 99.3 FM at various times throughout the day. This time, the announcements were made by two MBA graduate assistants, Josh Papke and Stephanie McCammond. The station plays an eclectic mix of jazz, big band, and other styles of music 24 hours a day.

Counselors sought for After School Camp
An After School Camp (ASC) at Beyer Elementary School coordinated by student Megan McLaughlin is looking for counselors for the spring semester. Come and make a difference in the Rockford community by participating in this important camp. After School Camp meets Monday and Wednesday of the last week each month. Join camp organizers at Beyer on January 25 or 27 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. to see what ASC is all about. Training provides an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the program and your fellow counselors. Always free pizza, connections, and fun. Beyer Elementary is located at 333 15th Ave., Rockford.

Rockford College hosts two speakers this week who will cover the gamut from censorship in the media to our belief in democracy.

  • Peter Phillips, professor and department chair of sociology at Sonoma State University, will speak today (January 25), 7 p.m. in the Maddox Theatre on the topic "Media Democracy in a Time of Truth Emergency.”  Phillips is director of Project Censored, a watchdog group that monitors censorship in the media. The group has published nine editions of "Censored: Media Democracy in Action,” and has also written the Project Censored Guide to Independent Media and Activism” as well as "Censored 2009,” a compilation of censored stories from the previous year. 
  • On January 28, Alan Ryan, warden of the New College at the University of Oxford will pose the question: "Do We Really Believe in Democracy?” in a talk at 7 p.m., also in the Maddox Theatre.  Ryan has taught philosophy and politics at universities around the world. His books include "The Philosophy of John Stewart Mill” and "The Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Property and Political Theory.” A fellow of the British Academy, he is a long-time contributor to The New York Review of Books and to magazines and newspapers in Britain, in particular Times Higher Education, where he writes a monthly column.
Both talks are free, though a ticket is required. For more information, call the Rockford College box office, phone 815-226-4100. The speakers are part of the college’s Forum Series. To see the full line-up, go to

Exhibit at RC features print exchange with artists from U.S., U.K.
Rockford College hosts an art exhibit called "Secrets,” a print exchange between artists from the U.S. and Britain from January 29 – February 21 in the college’s Art Gallery. An artist talk is scheduled on opening night from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. followed by a reception from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the gallery. Both events are free and open to the public.   

The Art Gallery is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon – 3 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.  It is closed Sundays and Mondays. Admission is free. For more information, call the college box office, phone 815-226-4100.

Dine with Beyer Elementary at Culver’s Feb. 7
Now you can have dinner at Culver’s and help the After School Camp (ASC) at Beyer Elementary School at the same time. Pick up a Scoopie Card at the mail desk today and use it for dinner on February 7 at the Culver’s on East State and Phelps. Ten percent of the proceeds from a silent auction and 10 percent of your dinner bill will go toward the ASC. Proceeds will help pay for transportation, meals, equipment and t-shirts for the kids. 

Learn more about Washington Semester
Find out more about the Washington Semester program today when Robert Walter, assistant director of admissions and recruiting for the Washington Semester Program at American University, offers a presentation and answers questions about the program. The meeting will take place at 4 p.m. in Grace Roper Lounge of Burpee Center. All are welcome. For more information, contact Prof. Jules Gleicher, political science, at 815-226-4029.

Out and about
Periodically, we’ll tell you about upcoming events in the community which may be of interest to the Rockford College community and their families.

  • Fri., January 29, Rockford Icehogs vs. Peoria "Pink in the Rink” benefiting breast cancer research. Call the Metrocentre at 815-968-5222 for more.
  • Sun., January 31, 2 p.m. "The Drowsy Chaperone,” a comedy with the most 2006 Tony Awards of any musical on Broadway. Performed at the Coronado. For more, call 815-968-0595.   

Where’s Robert?
Each week, we give you a glimpse of the important events on Dr. Head’s calendar. Here’s what’s on tap for this week.

January 27        Alignment Nashville Conference with Rockford community leaders

January 28        Meeting with Dr. Camilla Sharhekeeva from Kyrgyzstan

January 28        Dinner & Forum event with Phi Beta Kappa speaker, Dr. Alan Ryan

January 30        Alumni gathering in Atlanta, Georgia

Call for photos of the day
Remember to send in a photo of the day for the college’s Web site. It will be posted on either or Facebook. Submit your photos to

RC in the news

  • Robert Evans, political science, was interviewed by Channels 17 and 23 Thursday about the effect of a Supreme Court decision that would remove spending restrictions on organizations wishing to contribute money to political candidates.  Click here for the complete story.
  • Rockford College’s Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE) was among several nonprofit organizations featured and pictured in the Rockford Register Star last Thursday during a summit on strengthening advocacy before legislators and other decision-makers. Channels 17 and 23 also covered the event.
  • Students Josh Papke, Khetsiwe Dlamini and Francois O’Leary were interviewed by Channel 23 Wednesday on the challenges facing young people in today’s economy.
  • Rockford College was featured on Channels 13, 17, and 23 during the 10th annual "Rock & Roll Up Your Sleeves” blood drive on campus.  Click here for a complete story. 
  • Our "Trayless Tuesdays” initiative in the campus dining room was featured in the "Go Green” column in the Register Star yesterday.  Click here for the complete story.                

Community Search
Calendar of Events

Student Music Recital

EDP: Seminar #6 - Conflict Management and Resolution

NICNE Customer Service Workshop

FORUM: Sports Management Symposium

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