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Diligent staff, active alumni support students despite challenges

Otterbein employees save students, alumni and university money in frugal ways.

Otterbein’s various departments continue to provide students with quality services despite increased costs and a global pandemic.

Official United States Postal Service data shows that shipping costs have steadily risen over the years. Currently, the price of a one-ounce, standard-sized envelope is 58 cents. Thanks to a collaboration between Otterbein’s different departments, students pay less for top-tier service.

“[We’re successful] because we have good alumni and good people on campus doing good stuff,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Michael McGreevey.

In the mailroom, Manager of Mailing and Printing Operations Jim Shrewsbury takes actions to keep costs low while postage rates increase. Instead of relying solely on the United States Postal Service, he ships using the United Parcel Service, which provides the University with discounts and waives the five-dollar package pickup fee.

“They provide top-quality service, professional handling, and saved me $74.79 in two days,” Shrewsbury explained.

Besides UPS, other savings that Shrewsbury passes on to students come from purchasing USPS Forever Stamps and a postage meter service contract. Normally, the cost of repairing a broken machine would be $337 an hour plus the cost of necessary parts. Having a service contract makes it $300 per year.

It is important that the people working in the mailroom are kind, diverse, and welcoming. Their actions aid students and speaks to Otterbein’s mission, said McGreevey.

According to McGreevey, the mailroom, bookstore, and Institutional Advancement Division regularly contact Otterbein’s 27,000 alumni.

Towers magazine, the alumni newsletter, is one outlet the University uses to keep alumni informed. The number of magazines produced necessitates the use of bulk mailing. For this, the mailroom partners with the Westerville post office. Normally, shipping a copy of Towers overseas would cost five dollars. Shrewsbury bulk mails them for a total cost of two dollars per magazine.

The bookstore contacts alumni to create appealing gear.

The majority of alumni graduated from Otterbein College, explained Store Manager Kathleen Darnell. They aren’t interested in goods labeled differently.

“We have done a great job of working together, and most of our alumni gear now just says ‘Otterbein Alumni’. That way, those College graduates feel comfortable buying something that says ‘Otterbein’, that doesn’t say ‘University’,” Darnell explained.

The bookstore also continues to be supported by current students. The pandemic led to the store having an increased digital presence. 

Of all texts available in the bookstore, about 80% are available digitally, Darnell stated. Through RedShelf’s Brytewave e-reader program, the bookstore has complimented their in-person sales of print books with online orders. A 2019 Statista survey found that 29% of respondents aged 18 to 29 purchased books equally in stores and online supports this.

McGreevey and Darnell both say the bookstore thrives due to flexibility and superior service and products.

“We’re the only place pretty much that you can get Otterbein gear. We kind of have that little pocket to ourselves,” Darnell said. 

McGreevey said the store’s goods are a source of pride for the University. Students and alumni proudly wearing Otterbein gear shows the effectiveness of the school’s mission and values. They convey a sense of belonging and are consistent with Otterbein’s overall image.

In the end, it all comes back to who the University serves.

“The people are modest, they’re humble,” McGreevey said, “We’ve always been that way.”

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