By Madeline Alvarez, Editor-In-Chief
Newman Bookstore Manager Larry Williams has worked at the university for 15 years, but his time on campus is about to come to an end.
Larry, whose last day at Newman will be Oct. 31, is one of four staff members affected by a workforce reduction that President Kathleen Jagger announced in an email to staff and faculty on Sept. 14.
Though her office said it could not comment on personnel matters or name the individuals affected, Larry confirmed his job was one that was eliminated.
Larry came to Newman in 2005 after working at Barnes & Noble for 13 years. He said it was hard to get used to his new job at first.
“I actually had some autonomy,” he said. “No one was telling me what to do every single minute of every day. But that’s what I also enjoyed about it.”
Larry said what he will miss most about his time at Newman is working with the students.
“I enjoy seeing students and watching them progress from when they first come on campus,” Larry said. “So many of the students I see come in the first time with their parents and they look a little ‘deer in the headlights.’ And just seeing them over the years and talking to them and getting to know them, and student workers I’ve gotten to know real well over the years.”
He said a goal he has for after he retires is to visit his past international student workers in each of their countries, which would be 14.
For now, he said, he hopes to find another job in the Wichita area where he can work with young people and impact their lives.
He said he considers his biggest accomplishment to be assisting in the moving of the bookstore from the basement of Sacred Heart Hall, where the golf training center is now, to Dugan.
Another accomplishment, he said, was making the transition of the bookstore from being an in-person and online hybrid to being completely online when COVID-19 hit. He said he did this on his own.
Larry said he has been told to reduce the inventory of the bookstore as much as possible. He has sent two emails to the Newman community since Sept. 23, saying that the bookstore is offering reduced prices on all items.
In an email, Anthony Beata, vice president for finance and administration, said that the bookstore will be moving in a different direction after Williams’ departure but that details are still being finalized.
“It is fair to say that our current thinking is to move away from the traditional brick-and-mortar business model that for many schools like ours is becoming less and less economically sustainable,” Beata said.
He said that the plans will be finalized in the middle of October, but that no changes will be implemented before the end of on-campus classes this semester.
Junior Allison Williams, who is not related to Larry, was a student worker of the Newman Bookstore before it ended in-person services last semester because of COVID-19. She said she knew that finding a job on or off campus would be difficult with her class schedule since she is double majoring in criminal justice and psychology and minoring in theatre, along with being a part of theatre productions, Chorale and Troubadours.
She said she applied to many on-campus jobs but only Larry seemed willing to work with her schedule.
“He seemed a little apprehensive about it but he was determined to work with my schedule,” Allison said. “And it kind of seemed like he picked up all of the people who were too busy to go anywhere else.”
PHOTO: Taylor Stevens, Staff Photographer