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Photo gallery Moments in Time 2021: Our photographers’ favorites

December 15, 2021

Was 2021 the bounce-back year we were hoping for when the calendar page turned from a grim 2020? In some ways, yes. Students, faculty and staff who had been studying, teaching and working at home returned to campus, darned near 100% vaccinated — a success story we can all be proud of. Family gatherings, large events, shopping trips and vacation travel resumed. But a glimmer of hope that we might soon put the pandemic in the past vanished like a false spring. Back in the classroom, but still in masks. Triple vaxxed, but wary of variants. Virtual meetings with colleagues next door. It was easy to feel at times like the “new normal” was getting old.

Moments in Time 2021 reflects what played out as more of a bounce-back-and-forth year. As always, this collection of images is not a “year in review,” because it doesn’t attempt to document every important occasion, but a “year of views” — chosen for their artistic beauty, the stories they tell, the emotions they convey. The resilience, resurgence and joy you see will jog your memory and, we hope, refresh your spirit as you contemplate what 2022 may have in store.

Photos by Jeff Miller, Bryce Richter, Althea Dotzour and Brian Huynh; Text by Bill Graf

2 male cardinals on frost-covered tree branches

Did you know that UW’s official colors are cardinal and white? On this frosty day in the Arboretum, it was easy to see why. But we’ll continue cheering “Go Big Red!” at athletic events — “Go big bird!” wouldn’t sound nearly as menacing to opponents. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A person raising his face mask to drool into a vial

Spitting image: Saliva testing for COVID-19 required a public education campaign teaching students, faculty and staff — in gross but memorable terms — how to “pool your drool.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

A person dressed in warm winter clothes pounding a pick into a pile of ice

You can hide from winter, or face it head-on — take your pick. Lizz Epp, gear master for the Mountaineering Club, chose the latter during the Wisconsin Union Winter Carnival. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A snowman wearing a disposable face mask

There are no known cases of COVID-19 transmission from snowmen, but Frosty was taking no chances and joined the rest of the campus community in observing safety precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A person walking past snow-covered tennis courts

Tennis, anyone? No? Didn’t think so. On the balance sheet of winter, this late snowfall was a net loss. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A person spraying mist toward a clear shield in front of a person wearing a face mask

State Hygiene Lab employees on the frontlines of the UW response to COVID-19 test an N95 mask for proper fit. If Danica Harrier cannot smell or taste the mist that Ernie Stracener is spraying, she’s good to go. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Yellow shoe shapes mark the floor of a lab where students are supposed to be standing

The experiments were chemical; the distancing, physical. Students observed health and safety protocols during a class in this Medical Sciences Center laboratory. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A professor holds a laptop with 2 students on the screen while another student watches in person

This is what learning looked like in one typical classroom in the hybrid environment of 2021. Students participated both in person and on screen in Professor Harry Brighouse’s Topics in Philosophy course in the Discovery Building. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Cuts of raw meat with pushpins in them arranged on a table

We can only hope the animal science instructor resisted the urge to tell students, “We have to start meating like this” — even though it would have been literally true. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Several students leaping in the air in a dance studio

Bounding within boundaries, students in Karen McShane-Hellenbrand’s Contemporary Dance class were each assigned their own floor segment to ensure safe distancing during rehearsals in Lathrop Hall. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A person giving a thumbs-up as vaccine is administered in his arm

Sleeves up, thumbs up, vaccination rates up. Kim Bertagnoli of University Health Services administered the COVID-19 vaccine to Santa Gurung, a custodian at the Waisman Center, during a clinic for second-shift employees at Carson Gulley Center. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Several people sitting under an umbrella at an outdoor ceremony

Chance of rain, but visibility improving for the contributions of the National Pan-Hellenic Council — the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities known as the Divine Nine. They will be honored with a new plaza, garden and display to be created on East Campus Mall. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Everybody sing: “Sweet carillon (bah, bah, baaah), springtime never seemed so good ...”

Everybody sing: “Sweet carillon (bah, bah, baaah), springtime never seemed so good ...” Photo by: Bryce Richter

Graduates — but, due to health and safety considerations, not family, friends or visitors — were able to celebrate an almost-traditional spring commencement when the in-person event at Camp Randall Stadium returned from 2020’s pandemic-induced hiatus.

Graduates — but, due to health and safety considerations, not family, friends or visitors — were able to celebrate an almost-traditional spring commencement when the in-person event at Camp Randall Stadium returned from 2020’s pandemic-induced hiatus. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A tour guide leads a prospective student and his mother walking on a sidewalk

Ethan Labriel, of Fresh Meadows, New York, had already accepted admission to the UW as part of the Posse Program when he and his mother visited Madison for the first time. The campus tour only heightened his excitement. “And the lake!” he said. “That took my breath away.” Photo by: Jeff Miller

Several children splashing in water flowing from a fountain

Admit it: You, too, have had the urge to splash around in the fountain at Alumni Park on a hot day. Hey, if you’re up for it, we won’t stop you — but bring your own towel, because you’d look pretty silly dripping wet in your 1:00 Zoom meeting. Photo by: Jeff Miller

People sitting and standing on a pier, looking silhouetted against the sunset

A moment of pier joy as two friends embraced over Lake Mendota off the Union Terrace, which reopened in late spring. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A person playing a string bass on the Memorial Union Terrace

If sunset made a sound, it might be a lot like what fans heard from Marquis Hill’s band at a twilight performance on the Terrace for the Madison Jazz Festival. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Several students playing volleyball on a sand volleyball court

Just speculating, but we’d guess the volleyball players in short sleeves are Wisconsin kids who thought temperatures in the mid-60s on June 21 were nice and balmy, while the guys in sweatshirts are probably from warmer climates and were freezing. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A person aiming a 3-D imaging device at a statue of Abraham Lincoln with an enslaved person crouching next to him

High-tech imaging put a sculpture at the Chazen Museum of Art in a new light. Technicians were assisting artist Sanford Biggers in analyzing the depiction of an enslaved person in the “Emancipation Group.” Biggers and the Chazen are planning an exhibition at the museum in response. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A large group of children gathering around Bucky Badger for a selfie

You’d think he was the star, but selfies with Bucky Badger were just the warm-up to UW Movie Night at Camp Randall Stadium. More than 800 university employees and their families stretched out on the field to watch Dolittle on the 101-by-42-foot video board. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A man trying to fit a couch or futon into an elevator

“O.K., what if we turn it the other way?” If you’ve ever helped a student move into their dorm, you know the feeling. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Wide view of interior of Kohl Center filled with students

A UW undergraduate’s experience is bookended by the Chancellor’s Convocation at the beginning and — after a lot of hard work, deep thought and revealing discoveries — commencement at the end. Members of the university’s largest-ever freshman class attended this year’s convocation at the Kohl Center. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A student tossing a ring at some bottles while another student watches

Transfer students, who arrive at UW later in their academic careers without the benefit of having bonded as Badger freshmen, enjoyed a greeting especially for them during a Labor Day Bash at the Middleton Building sponsored by the Transfer Engagement Center. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Jaret and Rebecca, wearing face coverings, bump elbows

Remember when “rubbing elbows” was just an expression? It became a thing as people like microbiologist Jaret Schroeder, introducing himself to Chancellor Rebecca Blank at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, sought a pandemic stand-in for the handshake. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Several students walking quickly past Bascom Hall under a banner of a scowling Bucky Badger

Students scurried past Bascom Hall on the first day of classes Sept. 8. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Several students in a large classroom reaching to each other with their phones

First-day friendships were formed as Chemistry 103 students added each other as friends on Snapchat before their class began in Agricultural Hall. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

A person in cap and gown standing next to oversized numbers 2020 on Bascom Hill

Hindsight was 2020 for students who received their degrees last year but whose commencement ceremonies were cancelled due to the pandemic. They were able to return to campus in September of this year when the evolving COVID situation permitted appropriate festivities at Camp Randall. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Closeup of basketball-shaped trophy with reflection of Connaughton, wearing academic gown and speaking at podium

Reflecting on (and in) his team’s NBA championship, Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks told the Class of 2020, “We all have the potential to be superheroes in different ways, but it’s the journey that makes it worth it.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

A male student in a suit and tie and a female student in slacks and a sweater walk together holding papers in their hands

One bygone “perk” of the pandemic: You can no longer attend a virtual career fair dressed in a suit coat and sweat pants. Veeraj Luthra and Sophie Eberlein were looking sharp for the in-person Career and Internship Fair at Gordon Dining and Event Center. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A student peeking over a table that a robot arm is placing gears on

“Things are about to change in very big ways,” predicts Bilge Mutlu, who studies how people interact with robots. This student worked with a robotic arm in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab, where Mutlu is conducting research for NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Alvarez and Shalala running toward each other, arms outstretched, while Rebecca Blank and Chris McIntosh watch

Go ahead, say it — we know you’re thinking it — “Barry Alvarez, out standing in his field.” Well, it’s true. The Camp Randall turf is now named after the retired director of athletics and coach, who was greeted by former Chancellor Donna Shalala during an October ceremony. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Two people paddling in large pumpkins floating in inner tubes on Lake Mendota

Now we’ve seen pumpkin everything. Move over, muffins. Later, lattes. The Giant Pumpkin Regatta is what floats our boat. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Several ants, one carrying a piece of a leaf, walking along a plastic tube

A leafcutter ant, it is said, can carry 20 times its body weight. That would be like you or me lifting a Buick. Weigh that as you watch the ants go marching in this Microbial Sciences Building display of bacteriology Professor Cameron Currie’s research. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Two people dancing together with a potato held between their foreheads

Nbiiwakamigkwe (left) of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Keja Schreiber of Marten Falls First Nation embraced for the potato dance — in which two people try to keep the beat while holding a potato between their foreheads — during a celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day at Gordon Dining and Event Center. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Several basketball players silhouetted against the setting sun

Long shadows extended like tall defenders from the silhouettes of students playing a pickup basketball game near the Lakeshore Neighborhood residence halls. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Students performing a dane number on a stage with red lights

Members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity performed during the Multicultural Homecoming Yard Show at Shannon Hall. Proceeds from the event were contributed to the Divine Nine Garden Plaza project on East Campus Mall (see image #12). Photo by: Bryce Richter

A child wearing Bucky Badger clothing strikes a pose of attention

As Bucky Badger approached during the Homecoming parade, a young spectator — resplendent in Bucky gear from hat to sweatshirt to leggings — was sure to attract her hero’s attention. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Two people in Halloween costumes and face coverings playing cards at a table

One good thing about mandatory face coverings is that they make it easier to maintain your poker face. See? We don’t have a clue whether Tinky Winky or the wizard had the upper hand during a Halloween Bash game of spoons at Dejope Residence Hall. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A dead snake in a jar of liquid

Varmints in time: Snake specimens in the UW Zoology Museum — some preserved since the 1950s — helped scientists uncoil a mystery about a fungus that was killing endangered rattlers. The museum has more than 700,000 samples, from mussel shells to hippo skulls, available for research. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A person sitting in the atrium of the Discovery Building

Sweeping views through the windows of the Discovery Building invited fall color inside, providing an inspiring mood for a studious moment. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A person standing on a balcony and taking pictures of orange leaves on a tree

No person with a camera phone can resist the urge to become a nature photographer in the UW Arboretum, especially when it’s ablaze with autumn hues. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Illuminated sign wall in front of Memorial Union at night

The “memorial” in Memorial Union, etched in stone upon its dedication in 1928, refers to “the men and women of the University of Wisconsin who served in our country’s wars.” Photo by: Jeff Miller

Author with a Sharpie and a book sitting at a table and talking to another person

Yaa Gyasi, author of Transcendent Kingdom — a novel exploring issues of race, immigration, science, faith and family that was this year’s selection for the “Go Big Read” program — signed copies of her book in Ingraham Hall after a seminar for faculty and students from the African Studies Program. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

People carrying flags in front of Bascom Hall

Members of Sanford WhiteEagle Legion Post 556 presented the colors of the Ho-Chunk Nation during a ceremony on Bascom Hill. The Ho-Chunk flag was later raised over Bascom Hall — the first time in the university’s history that it had flown another nation's flag from its main administrative building. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Overhead view of a student at a table with laptop open next to plugged-in tablet and phone, a backpack and a set of keys

Head in hand, a student appears absorbed in her studies at Union South. Her phone and tablet may be fully charged; if she can’t say the same, Peet’s is right down the hall. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

A 3-section banner between Bascom Hall's columns -- 2 panels of All Ways Forward coming down, one panel of Bucky going up

A Facilities Planning and Management worker replaced a banner promoting the record-breaking $4 billion “All Ways Forward” fund-raising campaign with the watchful visage of Bucky Badger. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Paw prints and shoe prints in a dusting of snow on a sidewalk

Tracks on the Union South plaza after a light snowfall gave the appearance that a person in heavy boots had barely eluded an extremely large badger. The beast’s paw prints may actually have been an artist’s impressions in the concrete, but we’d keep moving along just in case. Photo by: Jeff Miller

A person wearing a black, brown and white outfit sits in a chair posing for a still photographer under lights

Students were encouraged to dress as “the most authentic version of themselves” for a multicultural and international student fashion showcase. Wuffa K., director of the Society and Politics Committee of the Wisconsin Union, posed for a photographer from MODA, a Madison fashion magazine. Photo by: Brian Huynh

Volleyball players kicking, jumping and running on the court in celebration

Wisconsin volleyball players got their kicks — and their hits, and digs, and spikes — in sweeping Minnesota before a home crowd at the Field House to advance to the NCAA Final Four for the third consecutive season. Up to now, UW has not lost a set in tournament play this year. Photo by: Bryce Richter

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