University announces “Discourse and Dialogue” theme for 2023-2024 year

By Anna Kuntz, Staff Writer

After a year of protest, conversation and controversy, the University has coined the title “Discourse and Dialogue” for the 2023-2024 academic year to reflect their mission as a public university to “uphold the principles of protected speech and expression.”

The “Year Of” initiative was first introduced by Provost Patricia Beeson and has been continued by her successor, Ann E. Cudd. The program concentrates on an area of University-wide growth and awareness for the duration of the school year and has continued to grow in success since its launch in 2014.

Vice Provost of Student Affairs Kenyon Bonner will work alongside Dr. Carissa Slotterback, dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, to facilitate the program in addition to a team of University-appointed faculty, staff and students.

Deemed “Year of Emotional Well-Being,” the 2022-23 academic year aimed to empower individuals University-wide to embrace their resilience through projects such as “Don’t Be Lonely at Work,” “Joy Is an Act of Resilience” and “The Mental Health Champion Certificate.” 

In a similar fashion, the Year of Discourse and Dialogue will incorporate programs to “probe the ways to harness the power of differing views and perceptions to enrich our campus community.” 

The selection of this year’s theme follows a series of on-campus protests in response to three Turning Point USA events, which discussed transgender issues and government regulation.

Following the events, students and experts within the campus community have generated discussion regarding the topics of free speech and the right of groups such as Turning Point USA to host controversial speakers on campus. The Year of Discourse and Dialogue will dive deeper into effective methods of fostering conversation about difficult topics in the world of academia.

In a statement released by the Office of the Provost on April 27, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd said “Higher education as a whole has been at a forefront of engagement around respecting divergent viewpoints — and the right for various viewpoints to find opportunities for expression. As a public university, we must and do uphold the principles of protected speech and expression. That is a tradition and an expectation as old as the University itself — and it lies at the heart of free and open inquiry and academic discourse.”