Future home of Delta’s call-center in works

The closing of the Delta call center on the Northern Kentucky University campus hit hard the 127 students who lost their jobs. Staff members of NKU were also caught off guard by the abrupt closing on Oct. 5.

Citing financial difficulties brought on by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C., Delta closed all three of it’s college-based call-in centers, laying off a total of 322 student employees.

Delta, whose lease at NKU was due to expire on Dec. 31, was in the process of renegotiating when the news came of the closing.

“I thought we were pretty close to having a deal,” said Mary Paula Shuh, director of campus planning. “Then this came up.” Shuh said Delta was concerned about the increase in rent as any company would, but there was no talk of pulling out.

Shuh said she received a phone call and e-mail on Oct. 5 from someone at Delta’s real estate department in Atlanta with the news. She also said Delta will honor their contract and continue paying rent until December.

University President James C. Votruba said he was sorry the students lost their jobs and travel benefits. “One of the things we’re trying to do is get the students out and see some of this country, and get out overseas and study internationally, and just get out and see some of the world. Delta provided an opportunity to do that.”

According to Votruba, two companies have expressed interest in opening call centers at NKU and Fidelity is talking about expanding their space. Votruba was unwilling to comment on what companies NKU is talking with but did say none of these things will happen immediately.

Although he would like to have another call in center at NKU, Votruba said he would prefer it not be in the University Center because the space is so tight there. “Eventually we intend to take all our call center work up to a facility that we will have a private contractor build at the entrance to the campus,” Votruba said.

Plans call for the new building to be on Nunn Drive near US 27. No date was given as to when that building would be started.

Votruba said the partnership between Delta and NKU had been a good one. “We just feel for them,” Votruba said. “The airline industry is really in rough shape right now. It will be interesting to see how many of these companies make it.”