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UI eyes eliminating physical phone directory

BY LAUREN COFFEY | FEBRUARY 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa is making an effort to become more sustainable by 2020, and officials say eliminating the paper copy of the student/faculty/staff directory may help.

Last week, the Office of Student Life sent out a survey to deans and directors,  asking if they used the physical copy of the UI directory. The survey results have not been completed; however, some staff say they do not use the directory at all.

“I think the last time I used the directory was eight years ago,” said Douglas Dion, a UI associate professor of political science. “I look everything up online.”

Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability, said that while the university is increasing its efforts to recycle, it is still important for the entire campus to become as sustainable as possible.

“We really need everybody to contribute to reducing our waste,” she said. “[Going completely online with the UI directory] is a great step toward that. Students are getting comfortable online, and this is a great step.”

The UI Vision for 2020 is to have the school become 60 percent efficient in recycling. Currently, the UI’s recycling efficiency rate is at 30 percent.

The directory is currently offered in a physical copy and is available online. Although selling the directory helps raise money for Student Life through advertisements, one official said the demand for the physical directory has fallen in the last few years.

Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for the Office of Student Life, said the revenue from the directory has been declining for some time. The revenue raised from the advertisements in the directory is applied to the various departments in Student Life, he said. 

“We have been planning for the possibility that the directory will be eliminated,” he said. “We will be able to manage the loss in a way that won’t affect students.”

In 2012, officials ordered 6,500 directories.

The UI has also seen a decrease in the use and interest in the Yellowbook and Dex phonebooks ordered last year.

In 2011, residence-hall officials ordered 870 phone books. This was an almost 3,705-book difference since 2006. These books are ordered at no cost to the university and are shipped in October and November.

Christiansen said she has seen professors as well as other UI departments trying to become more sustainable in the last few years.

“Many professors are going completely paperless,” she said. “They’ll provide readings online. The UI has dropped the copy-paper purchase by 50 percent in the last few years.”

Dion said he has about a half and half rate of providing handouts online and providing them in class.
“If I’m talking about it in class, then I’ll pass it out,” he said. “If it’s homework, then I’ll put it online.”

Another UI professor tries to have handouts completely online, not only for the reduced cost but also to help the environment.

“I usually give electronic versions and upload it to ICON,” said geoscience Professor Ann Budd. “It helps avoid the charge [that comes with printing handouts], and it’s also an environmental issue, too.”


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