Due to a decline in business from Off-Campus Solutions, Chief Operations Officer Tim Philley began the process of finding a solution to continue the Eagle Bucks program.
“We can still continue Eagle Bucks on campus, but we really felt that we needed to have off-campus merchants to make Eagle Bucks worthwhile,” said Philley. “So we already had a partnership with Blackboard.”
The Eagle Bucks program allows students to use their student ID to purchase from particular retail-partners like McAlister’s Deli. Since 2010, Off-Campus Solutions (OCS) has acted as the bridge between Eagle Bucks and the merchants until their recent decline in business.
In reaction to the loss of this middleman, Philley turned to Blackboard as a booster for the program.
Blackboard is a database that regulates the meal card system. They work with merchants off-campus, who filter ORU’s funds. The funds go through Blackboard, which acts as the technological component of the Eagle Bucks program, and then to the merchants.
“With OCS going defunked basically, all those agreements with those merchants now ending, we had to start the whole process back up again and work from Blackboard,” Philley said. “So we had to go back out and re-engage with the merchants again, have them go through Blackboard, and have them sign Blackboard’s contract.”
Lisa Bowman, the Director for Auxiliary Services, is working quickly to get more merchants. The Eagle Bucks program is hitting the ground running in assuring that the line of merchants has rounded out, giving students a greater variety of options.
McAlister’s is one of the few vendors from OCS that has already signed their contract for Eagle Bucks. Dan Huber, assistant manager at McAlister’s, said they are glad to sign back on.
“The students are great to have in our atmosphere and bring a positive energy to our restaurant,” said Huber. “We’re glad to be in the neighborhood; it’s a great community over here.”
While McAlister’s and IHOP have both signed on to renew their business, other organizations are pending to the list of merchants. Kaffe Bona, Mooyah Burgers and Great Clips are all in the works.
As the changes in vendors finalize, students realize the effect this change will have on them.
Junior Hannah White said she is a student who is personally affected by this program.
“I now have a class on Monday and Wednesday that ends at 7 p.m. so I can no longer eat dinner at Saga on those days. So for me, having the ability to use Eagle Bucks to go off-campus is a huge life-saver. I don’t have to spend the whole semester eating Moe’s or Chick-fil-A twice a week,” White said.
Students like White recognize the Eagle Bucks program as an opportunity to go off-campus without having to spend their personal money.
“I can spend this money that has already been designated for food,” White said. “I really think that the vendors should be willing—and want —to sign on because it gives them more business.”