Editor’s Desk
From the Editor’s Desk
Photo of Kristin Waterfield Duisberg
Jeremy Gasowski

f someone were to make a bingo card of terms popularized by the coronavirus pandemic, there would be at least a few obvious nouns and noun phrases to fill the squares: social distance, contact tracing, COVID bubble, virtual/remote [fill in the blank], mask mandate, PPE. Among the new verbs that have made their way into the pandemic argot over the past 16 months or so, the one that sticks with me the most is pivot. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted to remote learning and social distancing; as vaccine availability has become widespread and we’ve gotten the hang of our new normal, schools and workplaces and restaurants and retailers have pivoted again to in-person experiences and business as usual.

For me, at least, “pivot” was one of those words that, once I became aware of it, I started hearing everywhere (at the risk of dating myself, it called to mind an episode of the 1990s sitcom “Friends” in which one character instructs two others on the delicate art of maneuvering a large couch up a narrow stairway by barking “PIVOT!” at various intervals). A pivot is a very specific type of turn: not a subtle shift or minor adjustment, but a swift and decisive change of direction. As jargony as the term struck me at first, I soon realized there was no better verb to describe the shift of gears virtually all of us experienced back in March 2020. There wasn’t time to hesitate, to ponder options, to make small changes and hope they’d suffice. We all pivoted and started down a brand-new path.

This issue of UNH Magazine features several stories in which a pivot plays a central role. Like so many other educators, UNH faculty members were sent scrambling by the pivot to remote instruction last spring and rethought everything from their syllabi to their approach to teaching to keep students engaged and learning. You’ll hear from seven of them and the ways in which that change in direction ultimately enhanced their teaching experience in “Lessons That Will Last.” Paul Dean, UNH’s chief of police and the subject of “Challenges, Accepted,” similarly pivoted last year when he was asked to take on responsibility for COVID logistics not just at UNH but across the university system. And it’s hard to imagine a more urgent pivot than that taken by physician-scientist Leslie Gordon ’86, who dropped everything in pursuit of a treatment and cure for her own child’s fatal disease. Her story, “Love and Science,” is one of the most challenging I’ve had to write, but also among the most rewarding.

Without a doubt, many — if not all — of you have made your own pivots during the last year and a half, some more demanding than others. I hope you find the stories here engaging and perhaps even inspiring as we continue to make our way toward what I imagine will be one of the most welcome noun phrases of all: the post-COVID era.

Kristin Waterfield Duisberg
Kristin Waterfield Duisberg
Editor-in-chief, UNH Magazine