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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”
Charles Dickens’ introduction was as valid for Arizona State University in 2020 as in his “A Tale of Two Cities.”
The year began with promise and potential, as each one does. The ASU Visual Communications team photographed its new beginnings, the interest in lifelong learning and connecting with new friends. We were hearing about the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), coming first from the Chinese city of Wuhan, spreading soon around the world, to our coasts, to Arizona and the rest of the country.
ASU didn’t sit back to ponder what to do. Once again, it showed why it again earned the title of most innovative university in the country. It acted on its Charter, setting about advancing its research and discovery for the overall health of the communities it serves. The team told the visual stories of the university as it honored first responders and health care workers, as it collected and distributed aid to the people in Indian Country, as it brought comfort to veterans and the indigent, as it showed its grit, creativity and leadership in developing and administering an accurate saliva-based COVID-19 test with results in 24–48 hours.
Simultaneously, the university’s innovation led to enhanced technology installations through all classrooms and lecture halls. Through ASU Sync, students had the choice to attend classes in person or in real time through Zoom.
The visual team documented ASU as it pivoted throughout the year. We couldn’t escape the virus, but we adapted to its challenges. And we took memorable pictures of innovation in action.
Top photo: Senior Lecturer Karla Murphy delivers her English 101 composition lecture to one in-class student and 21 others online, on the West campus. Despite the coronavirus challenges, the campus had around 5,375 students enrolled for the fall 2020 semester in the on-campus and in-person immersion modality, increasing from 4,944 a year ago. Overall, ASU had more than 127,500 new and returning students, with over 53,000 fully online. Photo by Charlie Leight/Arizona State University