hollins university

Case Study: Hollins University

Private university reduces campus mail costs, generates a positive return on investment from the print center and mail services

About the customer

There's hardly a more picturesque setting to pursue a liberal arts degree than Hollins University. A private, four-year institution on a stunning 475-acre campus in Roanoke, Virginia, they cater to an all-female student body of less than 1,000 students — preparing them for lives of active learning, fulfilling work, personal growth, achievement and service to society.

Throughout historical and contemporary challenges as well as significant societal change, Hollins has both endured and thrived. In fact, in 2017, they marked their 175th anniversary of not just turning graduates into the world, but creating future leaders, decision makers and cultural shapers.

We don't consider the people who work in our mailroom Ricoh employees, they feel like Hollins employees.

Kerry Edmonds

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Hollins University


  • Minimal IT staff consumed with managing technology — leaving little time to improve processes

  • Limited hours for student mail services

  • Campus print center was slow and costly

  • Massive volume of paper document forms that couldn't be easily located or searched

Like most small colleges, Hollins University has limited IT staff to handle core infrastructure needs — networks, desktop computers, applications and more. With so much on their plate, they had little time or resources to find ways to improve processes on campus and make life easier for students and staff.

Mail services and the print center were also problematic. The mail services provider was sometimes only open one day a week, leaving students very little time to get supplies or mail a package. The campus print center was inefficient and did not cover its cost of operation. Service was slow and arduous and there was no consistency in how jobs were processed, recorded or charged back to the various departments. In addition, jobs the print center couldn't handle were outsourced — at an even higher cost.

Throughout their history, a massive volume of student and paper records had accumulated in the registrar's office and accounts payable department, some of which were in unconventional forms such as index cards with handwritten notes. Searching through endless files and finding the right paper document could take days. Ricoh had been providing hardware, software and fleet related services to the university for nearly 15 years. Now, they turned to Ricoh to help resolve their challenges around print and mail services as well as records management.


  • Reduced mail center costs and improved the student experience

  • Print center now handles 99% of the university's work and generates a positive return on investment

  • Streamlined document management for easy access to legacy records

  • Secured, efficient, mobile-friendly campus-wide print

The university now has a full-service mail operation that caters to student needs for sending or receiving mail and packages. The vast majority of printing is completed at the campus print center, generating a positive return allowing for investments in new initiatives such as improving business processes with document management.

With Ricoh Advanced Document Capture Services, documents that were difficult to retrieve in paper form are now available in a matter of minutes — sometimes seconds. This allows employees to be more productive in their jobs and serve students and staff faster.

With advanced software added to the university's campus-wide MFP fleet, students can now authenticate and access a device anywhere on campus with their ID cards. They can print from their mobile devices to the cloud and retrieve their documents at any printer on campus. And tracking and accounting tools are used to charge departments for higher cost color prints, and track and charge students based on their printing preferences and paper use.

How We Did It

  • In-depth analysis of campus mail services and the print center

  • Took over mail and print services, dedicated a site manager and added three full-time employees

  • Redesigned the mail services space and implemented a modern, functional high-density mail infrastructure

  • Installed a production printer and added new processes and technologies

  • Digitized legacy paper records

Ricoh began with an in-depth analysis for both campus mail services and the print center. Ultimately, the answer was clear. We created a joint print and mail center run by our managed services team. A dedicated site manager oversees both areas and we added three additional full-time employees.

We redesigned the space and implemented a modern, functional high-density mail infrastructure where students are emailed when they receive mail or packages. When they arrive for pick up, their mail or package is handed to them via concierge service. To help reduce mail costs, we also leveraged bulk mail rates. On the print side, Ricoh added a production printer to produce high quality color and black-and-white materials in-house. We also instituted processes and technologies to automate job submission, ticketing, workflow, finishing and charge-backs to departments.

We tackled digital archiving by providing on-site backfile scanning services and indexing for paper transcripts. The new digitized records were then uploaded to an EDM system so employees can enter a student's last name, date of graduation or system-generated ID to pull up transcripts quickly. We also automated the form students use to add or drop classes and integrated it with the EDM workflow.

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