Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
– Bill Gates
Volume 75 | Issue 4
July 2007

Auxiliary Insights: News and Ideas in Auxiliary Services


In 2005, the University of Utah opened a pharmacy in the University Union. "The idea began from a conversation I had with the pharmacy administrator at the School of Pharmacy," said Whit Hollis, director. During the discussion, Hollis suggested opening a pharmacy in the union. "The university was switching drug plans to make it cheaper if you used the university pharmacies. I suggested the pharmacy in the union so that people wouldn’t have to go to the hospital to fill their prescriptions," Hollis said. "He loved the idea."

Today, the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics leases an area in the union for the University of Utah Union Pharmacy. One of 15 on campus, the pharmacy draws around 30 students and 60 faculty and staff members per week, and on average, fills 700 prescriptions per month. In comparison, the pharmacy located at the university hospital averages around 11,000 to 12,000 prescriptions per month, and another pharmacy on campus fills around 1,900 per month. Although this means that the Union Pharmacy is considered low volume, pharmacist Susan Smith does not mind.

"This job is fun and personally satisfying for me because I get to have a lot of contact with patients," Smith said.

Not to mention, the union staff enjoy the convenience of the pharmacy.

"Our consistent customer base is staff because they are in the building all day every day. They appreciate our location very much," Smith said.

Since the pharmacy is affiliated with the university hospital and clinic systems, it is able to offer reasonable pricing on prescription medication to students and staff who have insurance. For those who do not have insurance, the pharmacy discounts prescriptions by $2.50 for students and $2 for staff and faculty.

The pharmacy also offers over-the-counter medications at a competitive price, which is a big draw for students looking for anything from headache medicine to allergy relief.

"We strongly believe in making over-the-counter medicine available," Smith said. "We get a great number of students wanting over-the-counters or just asking, ‘What type of medicine should I take for this?’ or ‘Do I need to go to the doctor?’"

Not only does the pharmacy get the attention of those affiliated with the university, but also visitors to the campus.

"With conferences often being held in the union, we get patients with no affiliation to the union who forgot their medications at home or may be having allergies of some kind," Smith said.

While the pharmacy may not see as many patients as others around the university, Smith believes that it is a great location because "the union is a central for staff and students" and notes that "people are still finding out about us every day."

Digital Photo Kiosk

Three years ago, CVS approached the LaFortune Student Center at Notre Dame University with the idea to place a digital photo kiosk in the union for convenient student use.

"They were replacing a kiosk [at their store] with a new one. We got their old one," said Belinda Thompson, LaFortune operations manager. "It was a good way for them to make money on an old machine and for us to offer a nice service to our students."

According to Thompson, the kiosk is a success, being used on a daily basis, and she expects that this will continue.

"As more people are realizing it’s available, its use increases," Thompson said. "It also depends on what activities are happening on campus. It’s used more after big events, football games, and breaks."

A self-service machine, students are able to wait while their pictures are being printed.

"The only thing our students have to do is enter an authorization code to enable the machine to print," Thompson said. "It is a bit slow, so occasionally, if a student is printing out a lot of photos, they will leave and come back for them later."

And for those without digital cameras or those who want to save some money, a next-day photo processing option is available. CVS provides this service at a discounted rate to the union, which then adds a $1 convenience charge.

"CVS picks up film, memory cards, etc. and drops off [the previous day’s] photos on a daily basis Monday through Friday," Thompson said.

However, most students using the service own digital camera and want instant gratification, Thompson said.

"Usage has dropped off so much that we made the switch to next-day service rather than same-day service," Thompson said. "It is actually cheaper for them to drop off their memory card and have prints made off-site rather than using the kiosk. They get the photos back next day; however, they can’t alter the photos like on the machine."

Despite a decline in this service, Thompson is still pleased with the ease and relative cheapness of offering this service to students.

"We don’t lease the machine itself. We pay only for the paper and ribbon that we use in the machine," Thompson said. "CVS takes care of all the maintenance on the machine."

Also, the union purchases disposable cameras, both digital and 35 mm, from CVS and resells them for a small profit. The benefit of this is seen during football games, graduation, and other large events on campus for which both students and visitors will purchase cameras.

The union at California State University–Northridge also offers a digital photo service. However, the union does not have a kiosk, but a family-owned and operated, digital and one-hour photo vendor that opened in 2005.

"In addition to digital prints, they also do color and black and white film processing and photography developing services including mounting, slide duplication, transparency duplication, enlargements, reprints, film, batteries, single use cameras, and gift items," said Jeremy Hamlett, commercial services manager.

According to Hamlett, the photo center is a popular service with a loyal following.

"They have been in the photography industry for numerous years and have a wealth of knowledge," Hamlett said. "This helps them provide a valuable service to the campus community."

Whether a union has a fully operational photo center or a photo kiosk, providing students this service has positive impacts for both the union and campus community.

"I would recommend this program to other unions if it’s possible," Thompson said. "We are able to offer a couple of conveniences to our students that are relatively easy to administer and there’s no cost to us."