How Campus Runs

UTSA employee E.M. Mahon shows off the huge stock of office supplies and equipment housed in the university’s warehouse.

How Campus Runs

UTSA offices relied on a huge stock of supplies and equipment in the days before the digital age

[ This article was originally published in UTSA newsletter The Roadrunner on October 7, 1985 ]

From pens and paper clips to desks and file cabinets, Alan Norton makes sure faculty and staff have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently. As director of Central Services, Norton oversees four employees working in Central Receiving, General Stores, Lab Stores, and the warehouse—areas concerned with the acquisition, distribution, and storage of the equipment and supplies that are the “nuts and bolts” of UTSA operations.

General Stores stocks approximately 650 different kinds of office supplies, buying them in quantity to save money and then delivering staples, paper, folders, and other items as ordered by university departments. Lab Stores performs the same service for the university’s science laboratories, filling requisitions for such basics as test tubes and chemicals.

“We order our inventories based on usage and past experience,” Norton explains, “but we also will stock new supplies upon request if we determine there is enough demand.”

He points to Post-it pads—self-sticking note paper—as one popular item now carried because of a staff member’s suggestion.

Central Receiving, meanwhile, takes delivery of about 90% of all university orders—averaging 150 packages of all shapes and sizes each day. After the staff checks deliveries against purchase orders and makes sure the shipment isn’t damaged, packages are routed to the office that placed the order.

Backup supplies for departments like admissions and computing resources are kept in the warehouse until needed. Obsolete and no-longer-used equipment also is stored there, and Norton coordinates a surplus property sale to auction off these items every 18 months or so.

The first university department to move from the Koger Center to the permanent campus, Central Services was kept busy coordinating the hundreds of desks, chairs, and bookcases as well as other equipment needed to outfit a university.

“Although we don’t deal with such enormous quantities on a regular basis any more, some days can be almost as hectic,” Norton says.