Coffee Shop Talks bring lively discussions to Pitt community at home


Have a spare 30 or 45 minutes and missing some of the intellectual stimulation you get on campus? Then join a Coffee Shop Talk.

The new online events have been going on for a couple weeks and will continue into the summer, according to Graham Park, director of Academic Ceremonies and University Events, which is sponsoring the talks.

There is no shortage of topics, Park said, and she’s looking for more contributors.

Just this week, Chris Bonneau, political science professor and president of the University Senate, hosted a discussion with Ellen Moran, vice chancellor for strategic communications and marketing, on presidential politics. Moran previously worked in the Obama administration and was director of Emily’s List.

And Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, led a panel of five female leaders on Women Powered Wednesdays talking about tips for women in the workplace. She was joined by Eva Blum, a lawyer and chair of the Pitt Board of Trustees; Pat Kroboth, dean of Pitt Pharmacy; Geovette Washington, senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer; and Debra Caplan, executive in resident at the Forbes Fund and a former executive at Allegheny Health Network.

Upcoming sessions include:

  • On May 7, Valerie Njie, president-elect of the Pitt Alumni Association will lead a discussion on season one of the Netflix series “Black Earth Rising,” a fictional legal thriller about the 1994 Hutu Tribe genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda that went largely unnoticed by the west. Find details here.

  • On May 8, Bonneau will lead another discussion on “Teaching Elementary School at Home with No Expertise” with Patricia Crawford, associate professor and chair for the Department of Instruction and Learning in the School of Education. Find details here.

  • On May 13, Humphrey will host a panel discussion on “Professional Women Parenting in the Pandemic.” Details forthcoming.

Registration is required for each of the events, which are held through Zoom and require a password. The number of participants is limited to allow for the discussion and a Q&A session. The talk led this week by Humphrey had 60 people signed up. Park said they want to balance the talk and the chat so that most people have their questions answered. 

Online participants can submit questions via Zoom’s Q&A feature, but they will not be interacting through audio or video with the speakers.

Those interested can sign up through the University Events Calendar, after which they will receive a link to the online meeting.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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