Stonehill College, a competitive Catholic institution located just south of Boston, serves 2,100 undergraduate students. More than 85% of these students reside in campus housing and nearly all participate in the campus meal plan. This makes food service a “big business” on the campus. In 1995 administrators made the decision to make the dining card a true campus-wide tool. They saw that using the card to provide access to places and events across the campus could help raise student awareness of all the available services on campus.
In 1992, the college opened a new dining commons, designed as a declining balance site with multiple dining options. Greg Wolfe, Business Manager and Director of Purchasing at Stonehill, began investigating one card systems as a means to facilitate the changing dining environment. In 1995 the campus installed CBORD’s OmniACCESS System with a single meal plan option. Today, Stonehill offers multiple plans with varying bonuses. The CBORD system allows the college and its food service provider to track the level of meal plan spending and help students change plans if they are over or under their semester’s allocation of meal plan dollars.
As the benefits provided by the card to the food service area became apparent, other campus locations expressed interest in utilizing the card’s payment functionality. A second account was established on thesystem–using the same card as the access and payment tool–for use in these non-dining locations. Called the HillCard, this second account enables payment at facilities including the mail room, bookstore, library, and student center. It is also used for on-line payments at photocopiers and, since 1998, in vending machines. According to Mr. Wolfe, deposits to the Cash Card Account nearly tripled when the vending machines were enabled with card readers.
Mr. Wolfe adds, “We also use the account for central billing of miscellaneous charges like a student handbook for a chemistry class that is printed in the document center. The professors get class lists and each student signs the list when they get their lab workbook– then the charge is entered directly into the system by the card office.”
The College uses a DataCard badging system to produce the ID cards. The contracted food service provider, Sodexho, is responsible for card issuance. A DataCard badging system is used to produce the cards with data shared between the CBORD and DataCard components.
Wolfe elaborates, “Small schools have to keep this in perspective. We shouldn’t go into the card to make money – it’s a customer service thing, enabling us to streamline our internal operations and delivery of services.” He relays the following example: prior to the card system, use of bookstore scholarship money was recorded manually. The bookstore was responsible for ensuring the student was spending within their allotted budget using labor intensive, paper-based logs. Today the value is downloaded right into the bookstore account and can be accessed by ID card-based transactions.
Planned uses for the card in the future include pay-for-print functionality as well as expansion into the sports complex for use in both privilege control and payment arenas.
Stonehill College is a living proof that small to medium sized institutions can truly benefit from a well designed card system–both in the traditional food service arena and beyond.