Staff heroes: Coordinating grad program and juggling home schooling


Even though Shannon Granahan’s title is graduate program coordinator, she has a lot more coordinating to accomplish than you might expect.

Shannon GranahanThe graduate program she coordinates — molecular pharmacology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology — includes courses with one director but different faculty members giving lectures every week of the semester.

And the program also holds seminars each fall and spring, for which seniors are required to connect with one speaker per year, select some of that speaker’s research and prepare a presentation about it for fellow students. That takes a lot of planning too.

Granahan has been handling all this while working at home alongside her first-grader and fifth-grader. She assists the program’s Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students with everything from keeping track of their requirements to applying for a spot on the graduate student research program. For faculty, she aids in scheduling courses, creating syllabi and distributing exams, among other duties.

It was toughest just ahead of this fall’s start, she says, “trying to schedule (classes) and waiting for the University to make a decision — what could be in person and what had to be online. This was probably the most nerve-wracking for me.

“In the beginning we had a few slight hiccups, but since then it’s gone quite smoothly,” she says. “The first day of this term, I believe everybody had an issue with Zoom. I’m grateful everybody’s appreciative that we’re doing the best we can.

“Working at home and having younger children can be quite challenging,” she adds, even when the kids have been attending a full virtual school day at home. “It’s challenging and it’s funny to hear the other kids. I can’t believe how these kids can pick up the computer,” with even the first-graders learning quickly to mute and unmute themselves and to “join the meeting,” so to speak.

Granahan moved here from Scranton in the mid-2000s and worked at a bank. “Everybody was talking about how it’s good to work for Pitt,” she says, and soon enough she started here as a temp in 2007, gaining a full-time post the next year as academic coordinator with Geology and Environmental Studies in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.

What she appreciates most about today, she says, is “people being supportive — especially my coworkers and supervisors, who are very understanding.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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