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Document Express to close; new copy service contracted

STANFORD -- Three campus copy centers run by Stanford Document Express will be closed March 15 because of a chronic operating deficit, University Communications Director Terry Shepard announced Tuesday, Feb. 21. Lay-off notices have been given to 13 staff members.

College Enterprises Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif., will take over the copy services on March 16, and may hire some of the center's existing employees, Shepard said. The Stanford Management Company has signed a five-year lease with College Enterprises to manage copy center plant operations at Tresidder Union and at existing satellites at the Graduate School of Business and at the Law School. The company will buy the existing plant equipment, vehicles and inventory from the university and subcontract with Alco Management Services of San Francisco to provide plant technicians for the centers. College Enterprises will employ the administrative staff and a courier.

The new copy service will be called the Pulse Copy and Technology Center and will be part of an existing chain of copy centers on college campuses, including centers at the University of California-San Diego, U.C.-Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California. Eventually, the Stanford center will expand services to include black-and-white laser printing, digital scanning and the printing of custom T-shirts, posters, banners, signs and resumes, said Michael Sihilling, director of business development for College Enterprises.

Document Express has provided digital electronic publishing and copying services to the campus community. It produced 44.3 million copies, including course readers, last fiscal year. In fiscal 1994, it lost $85,875, or 5 percent of its annual revenues.

The decision to close Document Express has been more than a year in the making, Shepard said. The service had been part of a larger unit known as Stanford Publication Services, which also included a graphic design and consulting service. The Graphic Center, which employed 19 people, was closed last Aug. 31. At the time, Shepard said that the university's budget problems meant its general fund could no longer afford to subsidize part of the cost of publications work, for which campus units were partly billed by Publication Services. Because Document Express's deficit was smaller than that of the Graphic Center, it was agreed to keep Document Express open for at least half of the current fiscal year while looking for a way to eliminate its deficit.

In announcing the decision to close Document Express, Shepard said, “Any decision involving lay-offs is painful and difficult. To be sure we made the right decision, we conducted a six-month assessment of Document Express and whether it could be turned into a successful business - giving the campus the best possible service and at least breaking even.

“The clear conclusion of that review was that, as currently structured and equipped, Document Express's losses would grow larger. Addressing that would require major restructuring at considerable cost, and continuous investment in a business whose technology is expensive and constantly changing.”

Also, much of the work of the centers is concentrated at the beginning of academic quarters, he said, and the centers were staffed for the peak period, which meant they were overstaffed for other times.

“The new vendor - because it is both expert in university copying and serves such nearby businesses as those in the research park - can provide the campus with better quality, useful new services and economies of scale,” Shepard said. “Put simply, this change will save Stanford precious budget dollars and give campus clients better service and competitive prices.”

Eligible laid-off Document Express employees will receive normal severance pay, Shepard said, and, where possible, staff members will be assisted in finding other university openings. Of the 13 people to be laid off, eight are members of the United Stanford Workers union. All but three are ethnic minorities, which meant an additional review by the university's affirmative action officer before the lay-offs were implemented.

The new vendor's staffing plan calls for a reduction in employees, Shepard said, but Document Express staff will be interviewed for the new positions and it is anticipated that some will be re-employed.

A team of employee relations and benefits staff members will meet with the affected employees today to discuss lay-off procedures, benefits and re-employment with the university.


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