One of the many Virtual Vibe gatherings that took place over the past year.

The Glass Half Full: The Challenges of 2020 & The Promise of 2021

April 07, 2021

Hello everyone,

As we look forward to the spring and the long days ahead, it’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year that we’ve been working, studying and teaching in virtual world. It goes without saying there have been numerous challenges as we all made adjustments to life in a pandemic world. Indeed, many of us might look back at 2020 as a lost year. I understand that.

But the challenges of 2020 notwithstanding, let’s look at the glass half full and take some time to celebrate examples of our collective resilience. At the SFU Surrey campus, here is just a small sampling of accomplishments during the pandemic:

  • To stay connected, we began our weekly Virtual Vibe. This has been a fun and casual way to connect with one another, hear updates, and share happenings from our respective areas.
  • Our custodial staff continued doing incredible work keeping our campus extra clean.
  • Members of the Facilities Services team are often on campus to work and keep the campus operational for the rest of us.
  • Members of IT Services ensured that we all stayed connected and helped us with our devices. They continue to serve us as we work from home.
  • Members of the COVID-19 Safety Ambassador Team and Security team also worked on site to ensure that the Surrey campus was safe and that safety protocols were adhered to.
  • The Fraser Library team worked quickly to pivot their services. The campus community can now access materials and resources through contactless pickup, and workshops are offered remotely.
  • The Local Joint Health and Safety Committee—worker and employer representatives from across the campus community—met regularly to ensure safety on our campus. They also carried out inspections to ensure that COVID-19 guidelines were adhered to.
  • The SFU TD-Community Engagement Centre and student volunteers pivoted many of their offerings and launched a series of campaigns that allowed for students to continue engaging with and supporting the community. 
  • Campus administration worked with the Ceremonies & Events team to host a virtual SFU Surrey President’s gala. It was a different experience and I missed being in person with all of you, but the event enabled more people to join us in a unique online experience. My thanks to the Ceremonies & Events team for their tireless work to make this happen, and of course to all those in our community who sponsored and attended this event.
  • All throughout, many faculty members found ways to continue to conduct their research safely, and many focused their research efforts on the fight against COVID-19.


Steve's daughter-in-law Jasmine and grandson Wilson.

… and from a personal perspective, I became a grandfather in 2020! (Yup, I know what you are thinking: Steve is too young to be a grandfather!).

Wilson Patrick Dooley-Kim was born on October 4th, 2020. He is my first grandchild and has become the light of our family in a darkened year.

All of us – students, staff, and faculty – have felt the weight of COVID-19 in many ways. It has been challenging to teach, learn and research in the digital environment, but I have hope that change is just around the corner. 

I also wish this for you: that like me (grandpa Dooley!) you had inspiring moments of family connection and personal triumph this past year. Indeed, it may be hard to find gratitude during such a difficult year, but grace and gratefulness, even for the smallest of blessings, may go a long way to help us through further weeks of our collective social isolation.

As we go from spring to summer, the fall will be just around the bend.  Far from relaxing our efforts to beat the virus, now is the time to double down on our collective effort and will. In this way we can ensure a fall semester that embraces a return to campus for some, if not all.

I hope that we will all soon have the vaccine, and can look forward to a spring and summer with lots of sunshine and safe gatherings with family and friends. And, when we’re all back together on campus again, I look forward to seeing you in person on the Mezz and saying hello to you. In the meantime, I hope you stay safe and healthy! 

Steve Dooley with Joanne Curry at the SRYE building, hosting the 2021 SFU Surrey Virtual President's Gala.
SFU Surrey staff and faculty worked with the Faculty of Science to create and distribute hand sanitizer to local organizations right at the beginning of the pandemic.
SFU Surrey - TD CEC student volunteers helping out at the Tech Drive. In total, the TD CEC collected and donated 35 laptops and 20 desktop computers to children and youth in Surrey.
Lightly used furniture from SFU Surrey found new homes in local community organizations, such as the Lookout Housing + Health Society and The Centre for Child Development.
President Joy Johnson visits graduate students who research in Woo Soo Kim's lab.