To the President, the Board of Trustees and the Academic Council:

Last August, the Mentor course management system was abruptly shut down by Chief Information Officer Paige Francis, creating enormous disruption for some 500 courses, as well as assessment and accreditation processes in multiple schools and departments. The Academic Council asked the Educational Technology Committee to investigate “what led to the decision, how the decision was made and the appropriateness of the decision.” ETC conducted a five-month long exhaustive investigation. The ETC report is now out, and the implications are unfavorable.

The ETC is clear in its findings: Information Technology Services offered no plausible grounds to justify closing down Mentor in August and has failed to demonstrate any grounds for a permanent shutdown. The ETC recommends that, in the absence of evidence that Mentor has the severe flaws that Francis has alleged, the university should restore Mentor to full functionality.

Last August, Francis claimed it was necessary to shut down the Mentor system abruptly because sensitive student data were at risk. As hundreds of faculty scrambled in the first weeks of class to convert all of their course materials to Blackboard, Francis reiterated that while this was unfortunate, it was necessary because of the security risk posed by the Mentor software. But as the ETC report makes clear, there was no evidence to support the claim of a security crisis.

The administration maintains that it is the prerogative of the CIO to decide what software the university should use and that faculty are not entitled to participate in those decisions. We respectfully note that this is inaccurate. Page one of the faculty handbook provides that it is the role of the general faculty to be concerned with “matters pertaining to the academic life of the University.” While an actual emergency may be grounds for overriding the role of the faculty in academic matters, there is not now, and never was, any emergency.

Many of us have worked closely with Professor Curt Naser, the creator of Mentor. For years he has assisted faculty, department chairs and deans in countless ways. His software and his extraordinary help and dedication have transformed our classes, our assessment efforts, our accreditation reviews, our hiring processes and many other critical functions of our university’s educational mission. As the ETC notes, “The work Prof. Naser did for the university in good faith has been disregarded and his reputation impugned.” That Naser should be treated so shabbily is shameful.

The administration has maintained that it cannot allow the university community to use software that presents a risk to the university. There was never any such risk. There was only the arbitrary decision of the CIO based on groundless accusations, which was defended by inaccurate and misleading claims.

We, the undersigned, ask the Academic Council to join us in endorsing the report of the Educational Technology Committee.

We call upon the university to immediately reinstate the full availability of Mentor to students, faculty and staff.

Dr. Colleen Arendt
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Steven Bayne
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Jack Beal
Department of Physics
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Dorothea Braginsky
Psychology Department
College of Arts and Sciences
 
Prof. Scott Brenner
Accounting Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Sara Brill
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Patricia Calderwood
Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Anne Campbell
Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Kevin Cassidy
Politics Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Gerald Cavallo
Marketing Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Ronald Davidson
Religious Studies Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Maureen Dewan
Religious Studies Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Rick DeWitt
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Ryan Drake
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Philip Eliasoph
Department of Visual and Performing Arts
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Deborah Farber
Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Dina Franceschi
Economics Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Paula Gill-Lopez
Department of School Psychology
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Joel Goldfield
Modern Languages & Literatures
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Joy Gordon
Chair, Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Rosemarie Gorman
Religious Studies Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. David Gudelunas
Chair, Department of Communication
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Evangelos Hadjimichael
Physics Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Olivia Harriott
Biology Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Philip Herr
Marketing Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Walter Hlawitschka
Chair, Finance Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Dennis Hodgson
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Hugh Humphrey
Religious Studies Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
William Kaplan
Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Wendy Kohli
Educational Studies & Teacher Preparation
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
 
Dr. Alison Kris
School of Nursing
 
Dr. Philip Lane
Economics Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Mark LeClair
Economics Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Nikki Lee-Wingate
Marketing Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. James Long
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Douglas Lyon
Computer Engineering
School of Engineering
 
Prof. Kathi Mettler
Accounting Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Todd Osier
Biology Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Gail Ostrow
English Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Michael Pagano
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Doug Peduti, SJ
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Gita Rajan
English Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Giovanni Ruffini
History Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Kris Sealey
Philosophy Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Michael Serazio
Department of Communication
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Norman Solomon
Management Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Prof. Debra Strauss
Management Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Mukesh Sud
Management Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Michael Tucker
Finance Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Joan van Hise
Chair, Accounting Department
Dolan School of Business
 
Dr. Kathy Wheeler
School of Nursing
 
Dr. Michael White
English Department
College of Arts & Sciences
 
Dr. Steve Yavner
Department of Visual and Performing Arts
College of Arts & Sciences
 
 J. Michael Cavanaugh
Management Department
Dolan School of Business
 

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