2020 in Photos: Part I

December 17, 2020 By Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu

The calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020 as I was sitting in a middle seat of an American Airlines flight somewhere over North Carolina. I was returning from photographing the University of Virginia football team playing in the Orange Bowl against the University of Florida. Although the Cavaliers lost, it was a great showing and an amazing gathering of the UVA community in south Florida and I think everyone left feeling hopeful for the year ahead.

Nobody could have predicted how the rest of the year would unfold, and I don’t think it would be a stretch to say this year was awful for everyone. I would learn, though, that the hopeful feeling I had for the year ahead was still true, if misplaced at the time.

Throughout this year I’ve spent documenting the UVA community I’ve seen heartbreak, unspeakable loss and sadness everywhere. But I also saw perseverance, incredible sacrifice, resilience and ingenuity; I’ve met many amazing people working tirelessly to heal the community, move the University forward and try to give our students the best experience that can be had considering the circumstances. Getting to know these people, who are often unseen and unrecognized, and being able to help showcase their hard work is the best part of my job and keeps me going.

It’s my hope as we round the corner from this pandemic and into a new year that it is those memories of resilience and togetherness that we choose to hold on to. To all of those in the community and UVA that worked miracles every day, we thank you.

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The Rotunda and the Lawn as it is snowing
A snowfall blankets Grounds on Jan. 7. The Rotunda is barely visible through the snowflakes.
UVA wrestling match
UVA welcomed Virginia Tech to John Paul Jones Arena for a wrestling match on Jan. 31. I climbed into the rafters to get a unique angle on the match – the last event I attended at JPJ this year.
UA Softball pitcher pitching a ball during a game
Another milestone for UVA Athletics was the March 6 opening of Palmer Park and the first softball game to take place there. Shortly afterward, the season would be cut short.
View of the Rotunda lit up at Dusk
Students embrace on the Lawn late in the evening of March 17, moments after the governor announced safety measures that would decidedly shift UVA’s courses online for the rest of the semester.
Student tying down bags in the back of a truck
First-year student Tiana Santana secures her suitcases as she moves out of her dorm. UVA gave students until noon on the Wednesday after spring break to retrieve belongings they wanted.
Man playing the trumpet in front of the Rotunda
I asked John D’earth if he would be kind enough to come to the Lawn and play some music as the sun set, to film and use in a message to the UVA community. He graciously did; little did I know, nine months without live music later, how important this moment was to me personally.
President Ryan sitting in his office chair at his desk looking out the window
With Grounds effectively shut down, faculty and staff moved their work to rapidly improvised home offices. President Jim Ryan is seen here working from his home office at Carr’s Hill.
UVA employee working in the Machine Shop
Sebring Smith, manager of the School of Engineering’s Experiential Learning Shop, teamed with Melissa Goldman and Trevor Kemp in the School of Architecture to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers. Here, Sebring is removing face shields he cut using a water jet at the Engineering School’s Lacy Hall. They’re just some of the many people across Grounds who rapidly changed direction to support the community.
Person sitting on the floor resting on lockers and a next to a window
A health care worker takes a break at a shift station at the UVA Medical Center on April 10.
Fox on the Lawn as a storm is moving in
With the students gone, wildlife took the opportunity to reclaim spaces on Grounds usually dominated by humans. A fox is seen here trotting across the Lawn on a spring morning.
UVA building with a sign in the grass that reads, please honor social distancing as if your life depends on it (which it does) no picnics, no play, no gathering, thank you and stay safe.
The signs appear. Workers in the sign shop at Facilities Management have been busy throughout the pandemic creating signs/stickers/plastic shields and other material to keep Grounds safe.
Professor teaching to an empty classroom
Professor Aditya Bamzai at the UVA School of Law teaches to an empty lecture hall while students watch and listen remotely.
Construction workers lining the hospital construction project clapping as health care workers change shifts
Construction workers building the new wing of the UVA Medical Center lined up at shift change to applaud health care workers as they changed shifts on the morning of April 16.
Arial View of the Baseball field
Groundskeepers mow the grass at Disharoon Park about a month after the last baseball game was played in a season cut short.
Computer screen with many people on zoom
The School of Nursing held its traditional pinning ceremony early, and over Zoom. It was a bittersweet end, as graduates were immediately pressed into service to care for the sick during this pandemic.
Graduate is hugged by a family member as they walk on grounds together
A family walks with their daughter down the Lawn in May after watching her virtual graduation ceremony online.
medical professionals and students gather and kneel at the monument for enslaved laborers
In the middle of this pandemic, we also undertook a national reckoning on race relations after the killing of George Floyd. Members of the medical community organized a “White Coats for Black Lives” event and in solidarity took a knee for 8 minutes, 46 seconds – the length of time that a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Memorial of Enslaved Laborers encircled by lights at dusk
Amid this national conversation on race, UVA’s captivating Memorial to Enslaved Laborers opened. The Architect’s Newspaper would later name it “Project of the Year.”
Construction crews tearing down and moving debri from the Alderman Library construction site
Alderman Library’s renewal project began in earnest after students left Grounds over the summer. The stacks portion of the library will be demolished as part of this project.
Medical Professional wearing a medical gown, face shield, and gas mask
Dr. Catherine Bonham, an intensive care physician in the COVID-19 ward, poses for a portrait with her protective gear on. This is one of a series of portraits I did this year of front line workers at UVA. Bonham wears this mask all day.

Check out Part II.

2020 in Photos: Part II


Media Contact

Sanjay Suchak

Photographer Office of University Communications