Speaker series offer multiple viewpoints to students

Maria Mauti, Staff Writer

Every year Robert Morris University sponsors many notable speakers and organizations that bring opportunities and insight to the city of Pittsburgh, but more importantly to its students.

Two of RMU’s major speaking events this year are the Pittsburgh Speaker Series in downtown Pittsburgh and the Speaking of Business series held on campus.

The Speaking of Business series, presented by the School of Business, kicked off its semiannual event with “The Arts as a Business” presentation.

This year’s Speaking of Business speakers were representatives and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO).

The event took place in Sewall Center’s International Suite on Oct. 5.

The moderator of the event was PSO board member David Iwinski Jr., who is also the managing director of a firm that assists cross border mergers and acquisitions between China and North America.

This year’s event panelists were Jim Barten, PSO’s vice president of public affairs, Yu-Ling Chengm, vice president of audience development and sales, Basil Cox, PSO’s board of directors member, and Jeffrey Turner, principle bassist of the PSO.

“We bring speakers from the [business] industry to talk to students about what’s relevant in the market now,” said Dr. Gayle Marco, associate dean of the School of Business.

The panelists discussed their marketing initiatives, specifically what they are doing to boost ticket sales.

Marco’s principles of marketing students have been working closely with the symphony on this initiative. In an effort to further reach their generation, they targeted the 18 to 25-year-old demographic.

While searching for innovative techniques the class focused on successful industry leaders and, according to Marco, asked the questions, “What are they doing? How are they doing it? And does it reach our target audience?”

As a capstone for this fall’s speaking event, the School of Business is planning to take students to one of the symphony’s concerts.

“We want to build a bridge between what the students learn in the classroom and the application of it in the industry,” stated Marco.

Plans for the spring Speaking of Business event are still underway. The School of Business will be announcing the speaker(s) in the next couple of weeks.

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Speakers Series is a series of seven lectures from October through April.

The organization is celebrating its tenth season of speakers this year.

The organization’s website states, “Our distinguished speakers share with the audience their unique experiences and perspectives on a wide variety of topics – from world affairs to history, the environment, authors, business and economics to arts and entertainment.”

Ron Chernow, a Pulitzer Prize-Winning American historian and biographer, opened this year’s series at Heinz Hall on Oct. 12.

Michelle Rhee, 
former D.C. Schools chancellor featured in the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” will be the next speaker in the series, presenting on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m.

Other speakers for the 2011-2012 Pittsburgh Speaker Series include Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, Michael Pollan, Azar Nafisi, Stanley McChrystal and Tom Brokaw.