The Pivot: One Pandemic, One University , by Robert J. Bliwise
The COVID-19 pandemic presented higher education with an unprecedented challenge: How could institutions continue the basic work of teaching and research while maintaining safe environments for their faculty, staff, and students? In The Pivot, Robert J. Bliwise traces Duke University’s response to the pandemic to show how higher education broadly met that challenge head-on. Bliwise interviews people across the campus: from bus drivers and vaccine researchers to student activists, dining hall managers, and professors in areas from English to ecology. He explores the shift to teaching online and the reshaping of research programs; how surveillance testing and reconfiguring residence halls and dining sites helped limit the virus spread on campus; the efforts to promote student well-being and to sustain extracurricular programs; and what the surge in COVID-19 cases meant for the university health system. Bliwise also shows how broad cultural conversations surrounding the 2020 presidential election, climate change, free speech on campus, and systemic racism unfolded in this changed campus environment. Although the pandemic put remarkable pressures on the campus community, Bliwise demonstrates that it ultimately reaffirmed the importance of the campus experience in all its richness and complexity.