UARK Technology 2020 Year in Review

University of Arkansas

While 2020 brought many unexpected changes and challenges, IT Services worked hard to ensure technology met the campuses changing needs — such as, improving data center reliability, introducing Zoom, and adding 25 new outdoor Wi-Fi access points — just to name a few.

With so many changes during the year, it's worth looking back on IT Service's top technology happenings from 2020.

Multi-Factor Authentication Began

As part of an ongoing commitment to secure the data of this university, multi-factor authentication was implemented for all employee UARK accounts in 2020. Multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security that makes it difficult for unauthorized users to access services, applications, and data.

Multi-factor is currently being activated for all students this spring. IT Services will send an email to students two weeks before their account will be activated. Students can opt in early to ensure they are comfortable with multi-factor on their own timeline.

Blackboard Learn Upgrade

 IT Services upgraded Blackboard Learn over the winter holiday. Course content was migrated to a new interface called Blackboard Learn with Ultra Base Navigation. The new interface provides greater accessibility for students and a more efficient experience for faculty. Future upgrades will be performed automatically and will not require downtime.

New Data Center Generator Installed

Facilities Management installed a new generator in the Administrative Services Building (ADSB) over three weekends in fall 2020 to replace the outdated generator that serves the primary Data Center. The new generator will increase reliability for services hosted on campus as well as the campus network.

Tech Store Managed by IT Services

The University of Arkansas Tech Store became part of IT Services in fall 2020. The Tech Store provides academic discounts, payroll deduction for faculty and staff, as well as installation and repairs on Apple and Dell devices under warranty. By purchasing from the Tech Store, students can ensure computers match academic program requirements.

Outdoor Wi-Fi Expands on Campus

Throughout summer 2020, IT Services installed more than 25 new Wi-Fi access points around locations such as the Greek Theatre, Arkansas Union mall and Champions Hall. Each access point provides coverage of approximately 150 feet. A map of the outdoor Wi-Fi locations is available online.

Zoom Made Available for Fall Semester

In August 2020, the U of A purchased a campuswide license of Zoom. Students, faculty and staff can join and schedule Zoom meetings for up to 300 participants.

Microsoft 365 Licenses Upgraded for Student Accounts

In August 2020, IT Services upgraded all student licenses of Microsoft Office 365 to A5, the most comprehensive license available. Students received access to improved collaboration tools including many new Microsoft Teams features.

Faculty Annual Reviews Conducted Online

With faculty data across all university colleges and libraries imported into Digital Measures, University of Arkansas faculty used Digital Measures to conduct their 2020 faculty annual reviews online. Digital Measures is a web-based solution that allows faculty to view, enter and track their teaching, research and service activities. This central repository streamlines the personnel review process, saving time and cost of printing.

Remote Work Resources

As schools closed in March 2020 due to precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, IT Services prepared resources to assist the campus community with working off-campus

IT Services provides technology services to the University of Arkansas in pursuit of research, discovery and student success. 


Rachel Gerner, content strategist
Information Technology Services


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