May 2019 to May 2020 was a period unlike any other. We began the year with a path and multiple projects in mind, supporting the sector’s and University’s goals. Then, we had to also suddenly reinvent ourselves at high speed because of the global pandemic. It was amazing to witness the way our community members rallied in the face of an educational, logistical and social shock, expanding the range and depth of our collaboration.
Every Services unit went into the 2019-20 academic term with projects to support our students, faculty and staff members. Budget Planning and Business Development brought us together for events, supplied our course materials, and kept our student residents safe, fed and sheltered. Environmental Health and Safety made sure we were working and learning safely, informing us and evaluating our spaces. Facilities Management maintained our buildings and grounds, got us from one place to the other, and improved and built us new spaces, in line with our evolving needs. Campus Security focused on knowledge of our community, improving services and support. Human Resources took care of every aspect of our employment at the same time as they pushed forward the critical Unity Project. As for Instructional and Information Technology Services, they supplied a myriad of services, tools and training, keeping us connected and cyber-safe throughout normal times and unprecedented ones.
Though every unit was busy when the pandemic forced us physically apart, they all came together in collaboration with our partners from the other sectors to help students complete their winter term and to re-invent the university for a 2020-21 online. We zoomed into meetings with our academic counterparts to resolve issues as diverse as access to research labs, support for international students, and ways to protect the privacy and security of those studying, teaching and working from home. When we are removed from our unifying, institutional walls, our diversity and individual needs become even more evident. I’m so proud of the resourcefulness, adaptability and empathy of our Services staff.
Retiring is both a blessing and a heartbreak. On the one hand, I may have experienced my richest, most diversified year. On the other, it has been more difficult to bid farewell to the students and colleagues who make up the institution that I have served for so many wonderful years.
For a look back on the 2019-20 highlights, I invite you to read more about each sector in our annual report. I’ll be keen for news about this current term under the capable and knowledgeable leadership of Michael Di Grappa – both my predecessor and successor!