The year in pictures: U of T News looks back at 2020

The Land Valley trail at the university of toronto scarborough campus is lit by sunlight
The fully accessible Valley Land Trail at U of T Scarborough provided the local community with a chance to walk, run or roll into the Highland Creek Valley (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

U of T News photographers had a front-row seat to history this year as they captured pictures of University of Toronto students, faculty and staff responding to one of the gravest crises in recent memory.

Despite the grim headlines, there was also plenty of hope, kindness and inspiration – the pictures below highlight the resilience of the university community and its willingness to help others.

You'll see university staff stack boxes of personal protective equipment for donations to a local hospital network; students stretch their legs in a physically distanced yoga session in the University College quad during orientation and U of T researcher and ER doctor Sameer Masood – who developed a virtual care system and oxygen masks that filter out coronavirus particles – pose stoically for a portrait in the back of an ambulance.

These are U of T's pictures of the year.


A drone's view of a crane carefully installing a new oculus on Convocation Hall. The new glass skylight was put in place after two years of preparations involving construction specialists, designers, heritage consultants and university operations staff. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

a worker sorts boxes of ppe at the university of toronto

With news of a shortage of medical supplies in the spring, U of T collected more than 250,000 pairs of gloves, 12,000 masks and respirators to donate to local hospitals. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)


A thank-you banner outside Michael Garron Hospital, part of U of T's network of community-affiliated hospitals. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

For the first time in its history, U of T held convocation virtually, in keeping with public health guidelines around physical distancing. Chancellor Rose Patten, centre, was part of a platform party including, from left to right, Lieutenant Governor in Council Claire Kennedy, convocation speaker and University Professor John Polanyi and President Meric Gertler. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

a table with lit candles, flowers and photos of the victims of the PS752 plane crash

The university community came together to mourn the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which crashed in January near Tehran killing all aboard, including eight members of the U of T community. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)


Sameer masood sits in the back of an ambulance

Sameer Masood, an ER doctor at University Health Network and assistant professor in the department of medicine in the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, played a key role in developing a virtual care system for the ER and a novel oxygen mask that filters out exhaled coronavirus particles. (Photo by Johnny Guatto)

volunteers stuff degrees into envelopes at simcoe hall

A small but dedicated staff of volunteers was responsible for safely packaging 15,000 degrees and diplomas for shipment to new graduates in Canada and 99 other countries. (Photo by Johnny Guatto)


 Genene Assefa, a building operations team member, checks on generator room equipment in the Central Utilities Plant at U of T Mississauga. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)



In the University College quad in September, students practised a physically distanced form of yoga during orientation. (Photo by Johnny Guatto)


Stepping into nature was one of the safest ways to get out of the house this year. The fully accessible Valley Land Trail at U of T Scarborough provided the local community with a chance to walk, run or roll into the Highland Creek Valley. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)


U of T medical students Daniel Lee, Orly Bogler (appearing via video conference), Jordynn Klein and Tingting Yan recruited volunteers from their class and other programs to help front-line health-care workers with everyday chores, such as groceries, during the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Members of the U of T Scarborough leadership team celebrated the official groundbreaking for a new, 750-bed residence building that will double the current residence capacity on campus. It will be one of North America's largest Passive House projects, a low-energy design concept. Pictured from left: Wisdom Tettey, William Gough, Desmond Pouyat and Andrew Arifuzzaman.(Photo by Dylan Toombs)

Faced with deciding whether to cancel in-person mandatory labs and send students home for the year or find a safe way to open, Leigh Revers, director of U of T Mississauga’s master of biotechnology program, found a creative and safe solution. He implemented strict safety protocols and reduced the number of students in the lab by splitting the work between team members who connected with their teammate in the lab via video conferencing – a novel approach that allowed students to continue their studies safely. (Photo by Diego Garcia)

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