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Co-Op Board of Directors seats up for election bids

By Marissa Piccolo
On March 5, 2014

Yesterday at 9 a.m., online voting opened for many student-held positions, including elections for the Co-op Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors sets policy and establishes goals for the Co-op, and is responsible for organizing, reviewing and developing operating plans. There are a total of eight open seats for this 2014 election: four must be UConn students, with at least one graduate student, one must be a UConn staff member, one must be a student or staff member from a regional campus and two "at-large positions" can be either students, faculty or alumni.
Those elected serve for two years, starting in fall, and will assure that the store is operating productively. Candidates are undergraduate students Reece Adamson and David Anzini, graduate students Lazri DiSalvo and Jeremey Jelliffe, university staff Kimberly A. Duby and Joseph Sweet, regional student Kelsey Barringham and alumnus Vijay Sekhara.
David Anzini, a marketing major expecting to graduate in May 2017, considers his past experiences in retail his greatest asset for this position.
"I understand what it takes it ensure that every customer has a pleasant shopping experience," Anzini said. He emphasized his commitment to customer satisfaction and experience working with store management.
"I would expect the employees of the Co-op to invest their time in each customer with the goal of return on investment," Anzini said. In addition to a goal of driving profits to an all-time high, Anzini sees potential for the Co-op to raise school spirit.
Vijay Sekhara, a 2012 graduate of the School of Engineering, also recognizes the connection between the Co-op and the Husky community. Having held various roles in Undergraduate Student Governement, SUBOG, Residential Hall Association and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, he considers student advocacy central to his approach.
"Many students forget that the Corporation is non-profit," Sekhara said. "If anything should change, the Co-op and the community should strengthen their relationship."
He said he hopes to broaden the learning experience of students through ever-changing products and services.
Kelsey Barringham, first year graduate student at the UConn Greater Hartford campus, believes she brings expertise with her expected masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management and M.A. in Social Work concentrated in community organizing.
"I am glad that UConn prides itself in having a member owned bookstore whose primary mission is not simply making a profit, but serving its members and local community," Barringham said.
She said specifically that she believes the new UConn Co-op bookstore in Storrs Downtown is crucial to community life and that she hopes to help plan a new Co-op bookstore coming for Downtown Hartford campus by Fall 2016.
Lazi DiSalvo, as a doctorate student in the Political Science Department, has dedicated himself to researching the positive impacts of co-operatives internationally.
"As a member of the board, I am interested in pursuing creative ways to improve the UConn Co-op's member services," DiSalvo said. "I am dedicated to meeting members' demands so that the Co-op may maintain its relationship with the community."
Kimberly A. Duby, a current Co-op member, said she hopes to continue to make positive changes in terms of the services and selection that are essential to UConn members.
"I feel that I have a unique perspective in that I am both alumni and also a staff member in the Office of Student Financial Aid Services," Duby said, "I would like more members to be aware of the benefits of being a member of a Co-op. I do not believe that students know they have a say in what happens with their bookstore." She hopes to open a dialogue focuses on having multiple, affordable options for textbooks.
In the past years, the Co-op like many other retail bookstores has faced many financial challenges.
"As a previous Vice Chair and current Treasurer I have experienced a variety of the challenges that the Co-op faced," said Reece Adamson, a junior electrical engineering major. "With this experience, I wish to continue working hard for the Co-op by being active in its decisions, involved in its activities, and eager to take responsibility for any endeavor it wishes to undertake."
Jeremy Jelliffe agreed. A doctorate student of Agricultural and Resource Economics, expected to graduate in May 2016, Jelliffe has been on the board for six years now and has served the last five as chairman. "The effects of the economic recession are still being experienced by the college book industry, compounded by recent changed in the online textbook market," he said.
In addition to addressing many unforeseen changes during his tenure, hoping to find key strategies to keep the Co-op profitable, Jelliffe also considers sustainability one of his top priorities as UConn thrives as a "green" campus.
Joseph Sweet is another UConn alumnus running for the university staff candidate position and has been at the university since 2003 as an undergraduate, M.B.A. and Law student. Now as an employee, he hopes to represent the university.
"I hope to utilize my university knowledge and background as a Strategic Sourcing Specialist in the University Purchasing Department to ensure that we have the most affordable products," Sweet said. "I have helped the university identify several opportunities for cost savings and operational efficiencies, and would like to bring similar initiatives to the Co-op."
Co-op members can vote online at vote.uconncoop.com, until Monday, March 10, at 5 p.m. 


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