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SCC Barnes & Noble Bookstore manager receives National Leadership Award

emily conley bookstore manager receiving campus leadership awardEmily Conley first became familiar with the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore’s coveted leadership award when she began working at the store as a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University. Earlier this month, Conley saw a long-time dream fulfilled when she was given the award, now called the Campus Leadership Award, at a national event in Florida.

Conley currently works as the manager of the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore on the campus of Somerset Community College.

“It was certainly an honor to be given this award,” said Conley. “For a while, I just couldn’t believe it. I felt undeserving of such a coveted award.”

Conley said that the award is important not just for the recognition, but because the overall spirit of the award means the manager has made a significant difference on campus and in the surrounding community. It means they are truly members of their campus communities and uphold the mission and values of the institutions they serve.

Conley found out she was one of five recipients of the award earlier this year when her manager came to campus. The Barnes & Noble College stores are organized into territories, she said, and the territory that includes Somerset Community College has nearly 300 stores. After she was told of the award, Conley was asked to participate in a video highlighting the strategic partnership the SCC Bookstore has with the campus community and participate in a panel discussion at the national conference.

When she began working for Barnes & Noble College, Conley said she was hired as a cashier. Since that time, she has held every position up the chain through store manager, her current position. After working for the EKU Bookstore, Conley helped open and remodel the Northern Kentucky University store. She then transferred to the SCC London Campus store when she and her husband relocated to the area. Last year, Conley moved to the SCC Somerset Campus.

Since working at SCC, Conley said she has worked hard to strengthen partnerships between the bookstore and the campus community.

“Our focus is the same as the college,” Conley said. “We know we can play an important role in retention and recruitment at SCC and we want to be useful and purposeful in our involvement.”

One of the things Conley has done has been to provide “WOW! Customer Service for Higher Education” training on campus, a workshop she created as a Barnes & Noble College certified trainer. She also fully implemented and launched the BN price matching initiative at SCC, which includes matching textbook prices from online retailers to the store, in an attempt to help students save money on textbooks. In addition, she and her team have introduced the use of OER resources, which are fully vetted and peer-reviewed classroom materials available at a low cost. Recently, she oversaw the remodeling of the SCC Somerset Campus bookstore, a project that is currently wrapping up. A public, grand reopening of the SCC Somerset Campus Bookstore is planned for early fall, after its completion.

"Emily is the definition of a store manager who exhibits exemplary leadership qualities and has worked tirelessly to foster relationships with students, faculty, administration and the campus community," said Ann Fraley, Vice President of Campus Relations for Barnes & Noble College. "Building relationships is one of the cornerstones of our business and ties directly to the success, mission and culture of KCTCS Somerset. Barnes & Noble College is very proud of Emily and all of her achievements."

In the future, Conley said she wants to focus on building those same strategic partnerships within the community.  

“I really want to do more community outreach,” Conley said. “I’d like to really focus on doing some children’s activities, including story time, superhero and princess events. We want to be a local store that attracts and appeals to everyone, not just college students, and getting the community to campus is just another way we can help in the recruitment process.”

Conley and her husband, Jamie Conley, live in Wayne County. In addition to both of their day jobs, they operate Conley Farms, a cattle and crops farm. They have two sons, Rex, age five, and Bryce, age three.