Haiku, home offices and lots of furry faces: Here are our favorite stories of 2020
The year 2020 was unlike any other for University of Arizona faculty and staff – in more ways than one.
As the COVID-19 pandemic transformed every aspect of life, we saw the Wildcat family adjust to these new circumstances with wit, grace, compassion and more than a few cute photos of their new "co-workers."
We chronicled every aspect of this strange and stressful year and offered advice on setting up a home office as well as tips on achieving better work-life balance amid challenging circumstances. We also honored some of our longest-serving employees and asked campus leaders to help curate a playlist to mark the start of fall classes (Neil Young ranked high among this group).
These are some of our favorite UA@Work stories for 2020.
Once the University shifted to remote learning in March, UA@Work focused on ways to improve your at-home technology setup, how to stay connected while keeping your distance, ways to keep your Zoom meetings fresh, how to stay healthy and mindful, and countless other helpful ideas on how to maximize productivity, efficiency and happiness while working from home.
WFH Photo Galleries
We put out the call for your best working-from-home photos on March 16, and you did not disappoint. We received so many incredible sumissions that we ended up posting four galleries (gallery 1, gallery 2, gallery 3, gallery 4) to capture all of the best kid, dog, cat, horse, tarantula and pig photos and help brighten our days early in the pandemic. We also received more than a dozen photos of some extremely creative home offices.
Over the summer, we asked Lo Que Pasa readers share their thoughts on working from home in the form of haiku. As always, you came through, providing us with 17-syllable doses of reflection, wit and levity. David Morden, associate professor of voice and movement in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, gave these works the treatment they deserved with his dramatic reading.
From personal projects to curriculum planning, the newly opened CATalyst Studios in the Main Library gives University employees a space to be at their creative best. CATalyst Studios is the next iteration of iSpace, which had operated out of the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library since 2015. It's about 10 times larger than the previous space and houses a maker studio, data studio and virtual reality studio. Construction began in December 2018 on the space, which is open to students, faculty, staff and the general public.
In February, visitors at the Bioscience Research Laboratories building were treated to photos, paintings, drawings, sculptures – and an overripe banana – all of which were part of this year's "On Our Own Time" art exhibit. "On Our Own Time" is organized by the University's Employee Recognition Committee and sponsored by the National Arts Program, which provides organizations with at least 3,500 employees resources to showcase employees' artistic abilities.
The University's greatest strength is its employees, and everyone has an impact on student success regardless of job title, President Robert C. Robbins said at a town hall held by the Appointed Professionals Advisory Council. Robbins didn't hesitate when asked what he sees as the University's greatest strength. "The people, flat out," he said. "No matter what we do, it's important."
With thousands of University faculty and staff members working remotely to promote social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Facilities Management employees have remained as essential service providers, ensuring that mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire systems continue to work as expected. Meanwhile, employees in custodial services and grounds services have helped maintain a safe and disinfected environment for those on campus. On top of all that, FM employees – with unprecedented availability and access – are simultaneously tackling renovation projects. In a later story, LQP featured the FM "germbusters."
More than 1,000 faculty and staff members marked milestone service anniversaries this year, including six employees who have been at the University for 50 years, the highest number of golden anniversary recipients in one year on record. Among this year's 1,067 honorees were 312 employees marking 10 years and 113 employees marking 25 years.
For many of the nearly 400 faculty and staff members who retired this year – including 23 with four decades or more of service – the milestone was marked without the traditional celebration. In lieu of the annua annual Retirees Dinner, Human Resources launched a website to thank retirees for their years of service and the contributions they have made to the University.
We sent a call out to University leaders to contribute some of their favorite songs to a Spotify playlist to mark the beginning of the academic year. Just like the disciplines the leaders represent, the songs span the spectrum of music, from newer hits to well-known classics to some obscure choices you may be hearing for the first time.