There is a new energy on campus as more and more members of our community receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. The University of Arizona is a vaccine point of distribution, or POD, through partnerships with our county and state governments.
Serving the community in this way is a logistical and organizational feat over a decade in the making. After Hurricane Katrina, the university formed a team on campus to develop plans for disaster preparedness, including a possible pandemic. While no one wants to have to put these types of plans into effect, our emergency preparedness is the main reason why we could come together to serve the residents of Southern Arizona.
To date, we have administered more than 130,000 vaccine doses at the University POD. This is a tangible example of how we live our land grant mission, but not the only example. Since the onset of the pandemic, the University of Arizona has tackled the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and served our many communities. The diagnostic testing initiative, the wastewater epidemiology program that has been replicated nationwide, the work of training tomorrow’s medical professionals and caring for patients today — these are just some of the many ways in which have made an impact. Our students, faculty and staff, and community volunteers have all consistently demonstrated our core values of compassion for one another and determination to get through this challenge together. I hope you share my pride in being a part of our incredible Wildcat community.
You will see more stories about ways people help out and contribute in their respective fields throughout this issue: Philanthropist Ginny Clements’ support aims to empower university researchers to cure breast cancer. Our alumnus Donald Porter, M.D., has kept generations of Arizona student-athletes healthy. Jessica Barnes will help unlock the secrets of the universe through analysis of the sample collected from Bennu when the Osiris-REx mission returns. Multiple teams came together to create multicultural logos that convey the richness of our community’s cultures, and more.
You will also find interviews with Athletics Director Dave Heeke, Coach Mike Candrea and, coming off a fantastic season, Coach Adia Barnes. I hope you have cheered along with me during the inspiring run our women’s basketball team had this year. I may be a little hoarse, but I am incredibly proud of this outstanding team of student-athletes.
We still face many challenges, but we are so close to turning the corner on the pandemic. Please do not let your guard down. Keep washing your hands, listening to public health guidance on gatherings and keep wearing your mask. We will be together again soon, in class, at games and at Homecoming.
Bear Down , Mask Up, and Vax Up,
Robert C. Robbins, M.D.
The University of Arizona