University of Wisconsin–Madison
2020 sunset

Reflections On 2020, With Hope For The Year Ahead

Dear colleagues,

While we have all experienced loss in many different forms this year, it’s heartening to also think about the ways we have grown in our resilience in the face of adversity.

One of my favorite memories of 2020 has been getting the chance to connect with people in new and different ways, even as we physically stay apart. Each Friday morning, I’ve looked forward to the chance to chat with all of you, my colleagues both within DoIT and in the broader university IT community (and sometimes your children and pets), via my weekly Virtual Office Hours sessions.

While Webex may not be the optimal substitute for an impromptu chat at the water cooler, or a friendly smile and wave in the hallway, we’ve managed to find meaningful ways to connect through the technology tools we bring to the university.

And through it all, I’ve learned so much from you all. Where to find a fantastic takeout tamale. The most scenic places to hike, all across our beautiful state. The best wireless headphones for work days full of remote meetings. Handy tech “hacks” to make working from home just a bit easier.

We’ve shared our fears and concerns, we’ve discussed interesting projects and ideas, and we’ve shared many laughs and smiles—and I’m grateful for it all. I’m grateful for YOU all. And I could not be more in awe of all of you and what you’ve done this year.

We did it. When you think about where we started this semester—and where we started from in March when the pandemic sent us largely online—the entire weight of this university has rested on the shoulders of the IT community to keep our systems functioning.

And it’s not just the network and systems engineers, the programmers, the support and instruction teams that have stepped up to the challenge. It’s also the cybersecurity team protecting our data. It’s our procurement and financial teams making things happen. It’s our HR team keeping up with each and every changing rule and helping people understand them. It’s our administrative support team keeping us all afloat. And it’s our communications team disseminating critical information throughout a rapid-fire year.

It’s taken the entire community, each of us doing our part, to get through this semester—and this year—successfully. We made this happen, you made this happen, the people around you made this happen. And I just want to convey, from me and on behalf of university leadership, an immense amount of thanks and respect to you all for what you’ve accomplished.

But even as we celebrate the end of 2020, many heavy weights remain.

This year has brought intense response to a global pandemic along with the start of a necessary reckoning on systemic racism. These events are far too complex and too important to capture with a few simple words here, but I offer a few reflections:

I am humbled by the power with which people have raised their voices in protest, in sharing their life experiences, and with their votes.

I am inspired by the resilience so many have shown while caring for family and neighbors and grappling with adversity.

I am deeply, deeply grateful for those who have served on the front lines of the pandemic response.

And as we prepare to ring in 2021, I am hopeful for meaningful progress in the year ahead.

Best,
Lois