Moving forward and making an impact


Moving forward and making an impact

Driving past Ninth Street or exiting I-80, you’ll now see a very different view of south campus. Several lots have been cleared between
North Virginia and Center Streets to make way for the University Gateway that will be home to a vibrant retail- and academic-oriented
neighborhood. Photo by Howard Goldbaum.


A new view around campus

Driving up North Virginia Street toward campus, the view has changed quite a bit since mid-March when the University first started alternative operations due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The old motels along the east side of the street are gone, and the view is clearer as you approach the original entrance to campus on Ninth Street. Drive a little farther north on Virginia Street and you’ll see Nye Hall, which was damaged by a boiler explosion in Argenta Hall in July 2019, has reopened and is occupied by students once again. These changes are just two of many we’ve faced during 2020, and through it all, the University community has continued to move forward.

University President Marc Johnson said, “During the pandemic, we’ve learned how resilient our students, faculty and staff members are in the way they’ve successfully navigated the challenges the last seven months have wrought. I’m so incredibly proud of how these members of the Pack have stepped up and given back to our community during these unprecedented times.”

“I’m so incredibly proud of how these members of the Pack have stepped up and given back to our community.”

Johnson went on to say, “As the physical appearance of our campus evolves, even during this crisis, the spirit of our University family has grown stronger.”

In the following pages, we share stories of members of the Wolf Pack who have given their time and talents toward making our University — and our world — a better place.

Dr. Joshua Tartakoff and Dr. Amanda Wagner
Nick Crowl
Mural painted on the University Arts
Top left: Dr. Joshua Tartakoff and Dr. Amanda Wagner, both UNR Med residents, volunteered their services in Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center ICU (Photo by Sam Dugan ’13, ’18 M.D.). Bottom left: Makerspace & Dataworks Manager Nick Crowl ’11 spearheaded efforts to make PPE during the first months of the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Nevada Today). Right: One of the many changes around campus include this mural painted on the University Arts  Building by Rafael Blanco ’13 MFA. (Photo by Brock Young '07).

UNR Med residents provide critical care

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine third-year resident Dr. Joshua Tartakoff and second-year resident Dr. Amanda Wagner are both specializing in family medicine. But when they learned Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center had only one critical care specialist on staff in Reno, they volunteered to do a month-long elective rotation in the Saint Mary’s Intensive Care Unit.

The two residents cared for critically ill patients, including some of whom had confirmed COVID-19, which meant Dr. Tartakoff and Dr. Wagner were risking their own health.

“The Saint Mary’s team has been so grateful for their help,” said Residency Director Dr. Richard Williams. “Their intensivist has messaged me with his thanks for their assistance repeatedly, calling them ‘rock star residents.’”

This is just one of many examples of our UNR Med students and residents offering their services during the pandemic. Some have worked at COVID-19 testing locations or volunteered for crisis call lines, while others worked to ensure the health and safety of at-risk members of our community.

DeLaMare Library staff and partners create 3D-printed PPE

Our University Libraries faculty and staff, along with several campus and community partners, have been working diligently to ensure the safety of our vital front-line workers serving rural northern Nevada communities.

Nick Crowl ’11 (social work), DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library dataworks manager; Daniel Smith ’18 (computer science and engineering) from the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center—Powered by Switch; and several faculty members from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and the Department of Art Fabrication Lab, knew they had to help when it became clear there was going to be a national shortage of personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic. They pooled their knowledge, took stock of the resources at hand and realized they could make PPE right here on campus.

Crowl and Smith worked to 3D print the materials needed to make protective face visors. The visors created by this interdisciplinary group of faculty and staff are composed of a durable plastic headband and snap-on plastic, wraparound face visor that can be disassembled, sanitized and reused. The visors have been distributed to rural health facilities over the course of the last few months.

“Contributing to something meaningful in a time like this feels really good,” Crowl said.

Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio
Jayde Powell
Shopping Angels network
Top: Music Professor Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio plays both the violin and the viola in a video created for Liberal Arts in Your Living Room (Photo courtesy College of Liberal Arts). Bottom left: Creator of the Shopping Angels network Jayde Powell delivers necessities to local residents. Bottom right: Shopping Angels volunteers drop groceries off for people in need during the pandemic. (Photos courtesy Shopping Angels Network)

College of Liberal Arts provides access to the arts

Arts help people cope during difficult times. Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts had this in mind when they collaborated on a way to continue engaging with the community while everyone is staying home much of the time. While the college hosts a number of different arts, humanities and social science events each year, the challenge was to figure out how to offer similar programming virtually.

Lisa McDonald ’09 (journalism), ’15 MBA, marketing communications specialist for the college, spearheaded the creation of Liberal Arts in Your Living Room.

“The platform was designed to offer the same types of programming our community was already used to — just in a virtual setting,” said McDonald. “We felt it was important to create a digital space for the public to experience performances, lectures and live discussions on topics that interested them without the fear of exposure to COVID-19. We didn’t want engagement to cease with our supportive community, and what better time to offer uplifting experiences with the liberal arts?”

Now with nearly 30 faculty members across five departments contributing their talents to Liberal Arts in Your Living Room, viewers can listen and watch a performance of Gaspar Cassadó: Serenata for Cello and Piano or explore posts featuring the artifacts and works in The John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art. Visitors can go online and have virtual happy hours with colleagues and friends, take a songwriting workshop or attend webinars like Thoughts on Tap “Future Visions of Food, Culture and Community.” These are just a sampling of the programming available.

It’s work like this, created by the University’s talented faculty, which truly creates a light to guide us through difficult times.

View Liberal Arts in Your Living Room programming at

Pre-med student creates national Shopping Angels service

When she saw people who needed help, Jayde Powell, a psychology major and pre-med student, put her organizational skills to work and started Shopping Angels. This free volunteer service network assists vulnerable members of the population who are elderly or may be immune compromised by collecting and delivering groceries and other necessities.

“It is an amazing thing to see how communities around the world are willing to come together and give back.”

Started as the COVID-19 pandemic was changing the way people functioned within their communities, Shopping Angels originally consisted of a few local volunteers in Las Vegas, Jayde’s hometown. The service is now in the process of establishing nonprofit status and has clients and volunteers from around the world.

All of this started with just one Wolf Pack student’s vision. Jayde’s desire to help in a time of crisis truly embodies Nevada’s tradition of excellence. As Jayde said, “It is an amazing thing to see how communities around the world are willing to come together and give back.”

Student journalists share important news stories during the pandemic. Photo courtesy Reynolds School of Journalism.

Student journalists share important news stories during the pandemic

“I’m inspired by the way our students responded to the crisis, even amid the disruption in their own academic and personal lives.”

Journalism students provide COVID-19 media coverage

Student reporters in the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism and The Nevada Sagebrush, the University’s student-run newspaper and website, stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide campus and community with timely and credible news, in both English and Spanish.

The Sagebrush was the first local news outlet to break the story of University classes moving to online instruction in March. Meanwhile, students in the Reynolds School’s Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science pivoted to coverage of the pandemic, producing stories of the impacts of the crisis for the Hitchcock Project website,

The Hitchcock Project also partnered with the University’s public radio station KUNR to provide reports for broadcast and digital distribution, as well as supporting additional public health coverage by KUNR staff. Student journalists for Noticiero Móvil, the Reynolds School’s bilingual news service, also performed a critical community service by providing health updates in Spanish.

“I’m inspired by the way our students responded to the crisis, even amid the disruption in their own academic and personal lives,” said Reynolds School Dean Al Stavitsky. “Their experiences reporting on the pandemic will stay with them throughout their careers.”

Nye Hall welcomes students back to campus

It was more than a year ago when a boiler malfunction caused an explosion inside Argenta Hall in July 2019, severely damaging both Argenta and Nye Halls. Now, after months of construction, Nye Hall opened its doors to students once again with the start of the Fall 2020 semester.

Nye Hall remodeled entrance
Nye Hall reopened to students this semester, after the July 5, 2019 boiler malfunction that damaged both Nye and Argenta Halls. Photo by Theresa Danna.

Things looks a little different, of course, and it’s not just because of the rebuilding efforts. Nye Hall has the ability to house more than 500 students, and many protocols have been put in place to keep these students healthy with the ongoing issues caused by COVID-19,  including reducing the density of the students living in the hall, routine use of disinfectants on all high-touch surfaces and hand sanitizing stations  on  all  floors.  The  front  desks  have glass partitions to separate residents and staffers, and furniture in shared spaces has been removed to meet social distancing guidelines.

A new entry and lobby now greet students as they enter Nye Hall, creating a fresh new environment that welcomes students into their new Wolf Pack home.

“I’m so impressed by the efforts that our students, faculty and staff have put into making our campus and our region a safe place to work and live,” said President Johnson. “It’s through their strength and perseverance that we will continue to create a positive impact within our community and lift each other up.”