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My goal is to write at least one of these community-wide messages each semester. Since we’re already in the thick of the spring term, I want to take the time to do so now so that I can tell you about some of the ways that we have been supporting the fantastic work that Northeastern faculty, staff, and students are doing. It is important to me that we at ITS create the most delightful experience possible for our community. One of the best ways to do that is to take the time to listen and put ourselves in situations where we can get direct and honest feedback and insight into what people are really looking for.

As an example, last fall, I sat down with the Student Government Association (SGA) to hear how ITS can better service Northeastern students. Overwhelmingly, I heard that the myNortheastern portal user experience and its functionality is in need of some enhancement. The ideas shared were really smart and I know it pushed the ITS team to think about the portal in new ways. We have already started using this feedback to address some of the concerns with the portal, including completely reworking the Husky Card portal services. December’s portal update gave students the ability to quickly review their balances, change/add funds, and access the links to the Swipe2Care application. This enhancement was a team effort: with SGA to identify the gap in service, and then with the Husky Card Services team to execute the project and bring it to fruition. In other words, none of this is done alone. 

Another improvement we have made is a new self-service portal that our network communications and ResNet teams rolled out at the beginning of the semester for students to register their wireless devices to the NURes-device network in the residence halls. This portal reduces the time it takes for a student to register their devices from approximately 24 hours to just 15 minutes in most instances. The number of tickets that students opened with the Service Desk for NURes-device related incidents was 64% lower this January than it was last January. This isn’t technology just for the sake of having it. This new service helps connect our students to the world around them in just a fraction of the time than it used to take and is a win for everybody. I predict more projects like this that are designed to make life easier for faculty, staff, and students.  

Having a common set of collaboration tools helps make our increasingly global University flourish, and that is why I hope you all took notice of the Microsoft Office 365 license upgrade that we announced late last fall. This license provides us the most complete set of O365 tools that Microsoft offers, including Microsoft Teams. We have been evaluating Teams’ chat, file sharing, and audio and video calling features since late June with great success. We believe that the rest of the university can truly benefit from this modern collaboration suite to enhance teaching, learning, research, and administration. While the services are already available to you through your O365 portal, you will hear more from ITS as we develop a more advanced support structure for Teams and other O365 tools. 

In the coming months, I will look to the campus community for assistance in keeping all of us and our data safer. Two-factor authentication (2FA), or what has also been called multi-factor authentication in the past around Northeastern, is an important layer of security that is really quite painless, especially considering how effective it is in protecting accounts from being compromised. Right now, 2FA at Northeastern is only a required security measure for accessing the VPN. Ideally 2FA will be required to access any Northeastern system, but we are not there yet. In the meantime, ITS plans to offer the community the option to use 2FA for services such as O365 and those using our single sign on (SSO). I encourage you to enroll in 2FA today as it is simply the best way of protecting ourselves and the University. 

I look forward to continuing the many partnerships I’ve formed since I’ve arrived at Northeastern. If anybody, no matter your role at the university, believes they have an idea for how we can work together to solve a problem with technology, please leave a comment below or send me an email.