PilotTalks | University of Portland




In a familiar style that mimics a popular streaming lecture series, PilotTalks showcases the stories of our phenomenal faculty, staff and alumni in a different light and context outside of their day-to-day work. For the 2022-23 academic year, the PilotTalks storytellers will focus on the theme of what gives them hope.

First-Year & Sophomore Family Weekend 2023 storytellers are listed below: 


kali abel with dog

Kali Abel, PHD Environmental Studies; Kali’s talk will be a collection of stories—of drying coffee beans, of salsa dancing at midnight, of people who collaborate with narco-traffickers, and of battles against a rising sea. They are reminders of just how much richness there is in our global family, and just how much potential we have in our response to a changing climate.

Watch Kali's Story of Hope

Anna Myers

Anna Myers, PHD - Assistant Professor, School of Education; Anna will discuss her journey to UP, the dyslexia initiatives she is spearheading, and how the program will ensure UP’s teacher candidates are well-versed in the science of reading.

Watch Anna's story of hope

Randy Hetherington

Randy Hetherington, EDD - Associate Professor, School of Education; In his talk, Randy will explore the why behind hope—why, when facing adversity, the human spirit will arise, endure, and overcome. But more importantly, he will discuss, through the lens of education, why we must know the “why” before we can truly know what we are hoping for. To know where to move a mountain, you must first understand why it needs to move.

Watch Randy's story of hope

Fr. Patrick Hannon

Fr. Patrick Hannon, CSC - Holy Cross Priest and English Instructor; In his talk, Hope is a Thing with Feathers, Fr. Pat reflects on—by way of a story and through the lens of Holy Cross spirituality—what it means to be a person with hope to bring to the world; how the seeds of hope are always planted in the soil of redemptive suffering.

Watch Fr. Pat's story of hope

PilotTalks premiered at Junior & Senior Family Weekend 2022 with these guest storytellers. Click on each link to watch their story:

Eric Anctil, PHD: Professor of Media and Technology
The Key to Raising Resilient Adults in the Digital Age is to Set Kids Free Now
  • Dr. Anctil reminds us all that parenting has never been easy and parenting in the digital age feels more daunting than ever. He explores how today's parents can support young adults to question, investigate, and solve the problems of tomorrow as independent, resilient adults.
Casey Shillam, RN, PHD, FAAN: Professor of Nursing, Dean, School of Nursing & Health Innovations
Redefining Hope
  • Dr. Shillam shares how her concept of hope has evolved over the course of her career, starting with military service in early adulthood and through her work in providing nursing care for those with serious life-limiting illnesses.
Lars Erik Larson, PHD: Chair, English Department
Looking for Hope in a Universe Filled with Failure
  • His story takes us across a multitude of life's scales - confronting the fragility of both the human-made and biological worlds, and exploring how and where we look for hope in a place that seems bent on destruction.
Jennette Lovejoy, PHD: Communication Department
Embracing Interconnection with the Natural World
  • Her story invites us to look closely at our connections with the world around us. In slowing, observing, and tuning our senses to natural ecosystems, hope is waiting for us all.
Mark Pitzer, PHD: Associate Professor, Psychological Sciences
Going Outside to Get Let In
  • Dr. Pitzer's humorous story is one many of us can relate to whether we are parents or not. Worried that his relationship with his 13-year-old daughter is dissolving beyond repair, Mark tries to reconnect by convincing her to leave her bedroom (and her phone!) and join him for an afternoon of fishing.