Colleges See Big Savings in Centralized Buying

Colleges See Big Savings in Centralized Buying 1

Heather Ainsworth for The Chronicle

President Thomas Rochon of Ithaca College says officials presented the idea of consolidated purchasing to the campus with other, less-popular proposals, like paying for parking. “We were able to say, OK, we won’t do those things, but we will need your very active buy-in” on purchasing, he says.

Whenever there is a question about what drives the costs of college, there is an obvious answer: Colleges employ a lot of people. But colleges also buy a lot of stuff. At a typical college, payroll and benefits might make up 60 to 70 percent of the operations budget, but purchasing constitutes the next-largest chunk: about a quarter of an institution’s annual budget, spent on copy paper, toilet paper, food for the dining halls, grass seed for the quad, wrenches, fuel, beakers, and much