As we approach the final days of the semester and the end of another academic year, I wanted to pause and offer my gratitude for everything that each of you has done over the past year.
I know we have said it many times, but this truly is an academic year that none of us will ever forget. As I will tell our graduating seniors and graduate students this Sunday, you have my respect and admiration. Not only have you managed to teach, create, and accomplish essential work during a global pandemic, you have thrived.
Arizona Arts and the College of Fine Arts pride ourselves on equipping our students with the skills to meet the challenges of the real world. We enable our students to fulfill their potential as creative change-makers. Our staff and faculty do that year in and year out, but this year was made special by your extraordinary efforts.
Thank you. I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our students and Arizona Arts.
I’m also very proud of how we engage in projects that call attention to, and address, the most pressing issues of our day.
- Congratulations to School of Art professor Sama Alshaibi for being awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the highest honors in the art world. Her groundbreaking work on the impacts of war and migration provides important evidence that creative practice is a critical part of the University’s reputation.
- TFTV’s Lisa Molomot and Jacob Bricca are taking their award-winning film, “Missing in Brooks County,” to the nation’s lawmakers, seeking meaningful change in our immigration policy that sees hundreds of deaths and thousands of missing migrants.
- Dr. Sara Fraker, associate professor of oboe at the Fred Fox School of Music, received one of the new production seed grants from the Office for Research Innovation and Impact, which funded a collaborative project involving oboes, woodwinds, composers, biologists and tree-rings. Her grant-winning project is inspired by data sets from the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research.
- David Taylor took on the for-profit detention center industry by using drones to capture images of 28 centers on our nation’s southern border, drawing attention to this unjust and abusive system that is often not seen by the public.
- Last fall School of Dance professor Autumn Eckman joined forces with colleagues to create dance films. “Shape-less” — a collaboration with School of Art alumnus Jonathan Marquis, and accompanist Robert LeGendre — was inspired by the experience of stepping back into the world after quarantine. The production was filmed at Mount Lemmon, supported in part by a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
- And I’m very proud that we’ve been able to launch two important projects: the Racial Justice Studio and BIPOC ARTS, solid steps towards improving our efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And, the list goes on — this year has witnessed so many outstanding achievements and events, which truly is amazing in light of all the challenges we’ve faced.
As I reflect back on this past year, many impactful moments come to mind from academics, research and performances. But one image really stood out … the dancers from BANDALOOP performing on the side of the Optical Sciences building. I think that’s a good metaphor for the past year. There they were hanging precariously by a thread at great heights, but they managed to create and inspire, dancing next to the University’s vaccination pod.
I would like to thank every single person who helped us navigate our COVID-19 world, volunteered to assist with our vaccination efforts, and give a special thanks to all of our students, faculty, and staff who performed at the POD for our healthcare workers and community. These small, but significant, gestures reinforce our collective commitment to using the power of the arts to make the world a better place.
Return to Campus
And now a few reminders:
Heading into the summer months, I urge you to get some rest and recharge your batteries. You certainly deserve a little downtime and we’ve got a lot in store for Tucson and the world this fall.
As our faculty and staff begin to step away from campus and COVID restrictions are loosened, we start the process of welcoming some staff members back to the offices they left in March 2020. Here are a few reminders about returning to campus.
President Robbins last month (April 21) outlined the steps for returning to work on campus. The University needs a gradual transition in order to assess the impact of increased activity over time. Transition plans will be contingent on public health conditions and meeting the University’s safety protocols.
There will be challenges, but our goal for Arizona Arts is to be back to campus by August. Each unit will be communicating their plans with employees over the summer months.
For now, the following guidelines are in place:
- Prior to returning, all staff, faculty, and students are encouraged to get vaccinated.
- You can register for a first vaccination appointment by visiting podvaccine.azdhs.gov or calling 844-542-8201 or 602-542-1000 for assistance in English or Spanish.
- Once you are vaccinated, be sure to upload your vaccine document. (Those that are not vaccinated will be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing.)
- Remember, all employees on campus are required to participate in the Wildcat Wellcheck.
- Face coverings must be worn in all University locations.
Once again, thank you for making the very best of this year.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer, and I’ll look forward to seeing you in August.
Vice President for the Arts
Dean, College of Fine Arts
University of Arizona