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Reflect on this year at the U

By Life@TheU

Reflect on this year at the U

By Life@TheU
Read about some of the most impactful moments during the past 12 months.

This year was like no other in the history of the U, but faculty and staff members continue to dedicate their talents to the greater mission and vision of the University. Life@TheU gathered some of the most impactful moments of 2020 to share with our readers. As December comes to a close, take some time to reflect on these and other accomplishments during the past 12 months.

We inspired others to achieve their health goals.

In January, University employee Sylka Perez-Garcia had the opportunity to meet Oprah Winfrey during her visit to Fort Lauderdale. Over the course of three years, Perez-Garcia, executive assistant to the dean at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, took action—joining Human Resources’ (HR) Total Rewards WW at Work program, losing 55 pounds, and gaining a new-found sense of health. Through her efforts on the Marine Campus, Perez-Garcia has inspired others and built a community of well-being at the Rosenstiel School. So when Winfrey’s team asked Perez-Garcia to represent the WW at Work program on behalf of South Florida and the University of Miami during Winfrey’s 2020 Vision Tour, she agreed and had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read the full story.


University leaders shared perspectives on paving a path to success.

On Feb. 19, leaders from the University and Miami-Dade County gathered for the Discovering Your Path to Leadership panel to reflect on what it takes to reach the top. Their advice provided clarity and inspiration to those in the audience paving their own path to success. Read the key takeaways from the event.


We showed up in record numbers for a cause.

At the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, Team Hurricanes—with 1,250 strong—joined thousands of others on Saturday, Feb. 29, to run, walk, and ride to fight cancer and support the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Making up about 20 percent of a record 6,000 participants and volunteers, Team Hurricanes included employees, donors, and others who are proud members of the University of Miami family. Since its inception, the DCC has raised more than $32.5 million, donating 100 percent of participant-raised funds to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. View photos and read the full story.


We learned to adapt to changing environments.

Almost everything required a shift to ensure the safety of our community when COVID-19 arrived at our doors, including how University faculty, staff, students, and patient-facing teams operated and interacted with each other. As physical distancing protocols were implemented across the country, home and office spaces began to overlap for a portion of the University’s workforce who continued working, teaching, and learning from home. Family pets became new colleagues and began making cameo appearances on videoconferencing calls. Despite the changes and distance, we learned new ways to stay connected. View photos and read the full story.

On the Coral Gables Campus, residential faculty members increased faculty-student engagement opportunities and contributed to the development of an intentional intellectual community in the Residential Colleges. Embedded with undergraduate students, these University faculty members serve as a resource, advocate, and mentor for students as they make important decisions during their college careers and plan for their post-college lives. Life@TheU connected with a few of these community leaders as they reflected on their experiences on campus during COVID-19 in the spring term and discussed their evolving role in a pandemic as students returned to campus at the start of the fall semester.


We collaborated to support teams and continue campus operations.

With the shift to remote learning, teaching, and working, the University’s facilities and operations teams kept the campus humming, providing stellar service. The UM Libraries provided seamless access to resources and services. UMIT worked diligently with teams across all campuses to move the University online as the community adjusted to a highly digital environment. Tasked with overseeing all aspects of student life, the teams within the Division of Student Affairs continued serving students and provided a safe environment and supportive services in a changing climate.

Our Medical Campus colleagues have continued working tirelessly through the pandemic to safely serve patients across the University of Miami Health System. With support from the UHealth information technology team, our clinicians and health care units continue delivering better patient care, education, and research, learning and developing new workflows and technology to incorporate telehealth visits and remotely monitor patients. The team of experts at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has continued to address patients’ physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs before, during, and after cancer treatment. The team at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami remained steadfast in treating patients with urgent and emergency eye care.


We showed courage and compassion in challenging times.

As health care workers took on unprecedented circumstances during the pandemic, Life@TheU highlighted a number of University clinicians, faculty, and staff members who stepped up and out of their comfort zones. University employees volunteered their time to sew and use 3D printers to create face coverings and send personal protective equipment across the country. Clinicians cared for the critically ill on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of nurses worked diligently and compassionately to handle inquiries and help find solutions for callers on the University’s COVID-19 employee-dedicated hotline. 

Despite a pandemic, the UHealth patient experience team adapted their roles while continuing to serve the health system on the front lines working closely with the public safety team to support clinical teams and ensure that preeminent patient care was delivered safely around the clock.

Our colleagues shared their experiences overseeing intensive care units at UHealth inside the COVID-19 unit and discussed the importance of providing excellent care and safety for not only patients but employees as well.


We shared our appreciation for medical workers and others on the front lines.

As a community, the University found ways to support our health care heroes. With the launch of a new webpage, University faculty and staff members were able to send and publish words of encouragement or acknowledgment to their colleagues, while the community showed their gratitude on social media with #Hearts4UHealth. We cannot thank our UHealth heroes enough for working tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of the South Florida community. Explore some ways you can support our UHealth colleagues and share your gratitude during the holiday season.

Tell us about your experience.

This year, many in our community have been tenacious in dealing with adversity. How have you overcome the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic? Life@TheU wants to know how you have shown yourself and your colleagues grace during this stressful year. We hope to share your submissions and inspire others as we enter the new year. Take a moment to reflect on your own experiences and share your essay (200-600 words). Submissions and questions can be sent to