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Faculty Senate concerned over NRA fundraiser

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The NAU Faculty Senate had their second to last meeting the evening of Monday, April 23, to discuss e-learning, a new two-step verification system to protect students and faculty at NAU, an update on elections and the Friends of the NRA meeting at the High Country Conference Center.


Members of th Faculty Senate gathered for a meeting in the Kaibab Meeting Room on April 23, 2018.

The meeting, led by Faulty Senate President Gioia Woods, began with Vice President Dan Eadens recognizing three students who were awarded the Goldwater scholarships. The scholarship is an award given to students studying natural sciences, mathematics or engineering, which provides one or two year full-ride scholarships to each of the recipients.

The winners are biology students Austin Dikeman and Shelby Hutton, and mechanical engineering student Dan Rivera. Eadens informed the Faculty Senate that NAU has had seven Goldwater scholarship winners since 2013, and is the only school in Arizona to have three students win for the upcoming academic year.

Eadens also informed members of the Faculty Senate that elections will occur at the last meeting May 7.

The senate's discussion moved to e-learning. NAU director of e-learning Don Carter spoke in front of Faculty Senate about plans to move the Blackboard Learn platform to a cloud known as Ultra. He said this new platform will look the same and operate the same.

“In essence it will look like nothing will happen. One of my staff described it as putting a new engine in a car,” Carter said.

Some of the board members raised concerns with the timing of moving the platform to the cloud in case it fails. The test and move would only be possible for two days when summer school is over and the new semester begins Carter said. There is a fee for the migration of the platform, but once the platform is moved, the cost of Blackboard Learn remains the same.

Carter said there is a chance NAU will switch platforms completely sometime in the future and the Ultra system is the beginning to advancing NAU’s software technology.

Director of ITS Michael Zimmer, and Trey McCallie, the ITS Access Management team leader, presented their plan to the Faculty Senate to install a two-step verification system to protect the students and employees of NAU. The two-step verification system is a system that will add another layer of security to the private information of students and faculty.

They believe NAU has a responsibility to protect student and faculty information.

Zimmer and McCallie also spoke about a new system they have made plans to install that will keep student and faculty information private. The two-step verification system is a system that will add another layer of security to the private information of students and faculty.

“This essentially is a weapon against cyber attacks,” said McCallie.

The system will add a second factor, a mobile app connected to Blackboard Learn (BBL) that will prevent anyone but the account owner trying to log into their account from accessing it. Even if another person knows the password, the second factor will prevent them from breaking in.

The application connects to Blackboard Learn by asking for verification from the application once the account owner has logged into Blackboard Learn. The user would then use their mobile phone to verify they are the one logging into the account. Once in, the user has access to the account for 24 hours before the system resets and the person has to verify their identification yet again.

College of Arts and Letters professor Anne Scott presented her report to the Faculty Senate. Scott said the multi-term enrollment report had not been reviewed yet due to other present concerns.

Woods introduced distinguished teaching fellow, John Tingerthal. He explained the Teacher of the Year award criteria for the heads of the colleges to look over when selecting a nominee.

As of now, each college, except for honors, gets one nominee allotment per year. The point of this criteria is to standardize the process and to help faculty figure out who to nominate for teacher of the year.

The last item on the agenda was a discussion of the Friends of the NRA fundraiser event being held at the High Country Conference Center and the possibility of protests in response to the fundraiser.

The Faculty Senate invited NAUPD Chief Kelli Smith to speak next. She reassured members of the Faculty Senate of the protocol NAUPD will deploy to ensure the safety of the event, attendees and protesters.

Smith informed members the new clear bag policy will be in effect at this event. Not only will NAUPD be enforcing clear bags, but any potential bidders for guns being auctioned off at the event will not be allowed to handle the firearms on campus even if they win. The guns will be on display and given to those who bought them at a later time.

Members of the Faculty Senate recognize students will likely protest and raise concerns for their safety. Smith reassured the Faculty Senate, once again, this event will have officers for security and those protesting can do so peacefully as long as they follow the laws pertaining to expressing their freedom of speech.