Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

It’s time to talk at the annual Great Conversation

On Feb. 25, the Honors College will have another round of great conversations with its annual benefit dinner.

Who has the best BBQ in San Antonio? How much should children’s use of technology be regulated? What makes a good marriage? These are just a few of the substantial variety of topics being discussed this year at the Great Conversation!

“BBQ Wars,” hosted by Augustine Cortez, “Children and Technology: How Much, How Soon, How to Regulate Its Use,” hosted by Dr. Harriet Romo and “What is Marriage and What Should it Be,” hosted by Jill Hernández are topics that students can learn about.

Great Conversation! is an annual event that benefits UTSA’s Honors College, with proceeds from ticket sales and sponsors going toward merit scholarships and research opportunities.

Attendees are seated at the table of their choice — there is a conversation leader at each table. Conversation leaders choose a topic of their interest and facilitate a discussion at their tables. “For some of them, it’s their job, and some it’s their interest. It’s the leader’s job to get the people at the table interacting,” says Dean of Honors College, Richard Diem.

The event is organized by UTSA’s Honors College, the Office of Development and other departments in order to create a university-wide effort. Diem credits Dr. Harriet Romo’s involvement in producing a great event for all involved. “When Dr. Romo became president, he had luncheons to raise money and Dr. Harriet Romo tried to find a way to make this larger. I thank her very much for that.”

Great Conversation! has been an event at UTSA for 15 years. In those years the event has raised about $1 million for UTSA Honors College students. According to Donna Fiedler, Assistant Director of Development, last year’s event raised $160,050.

Attendees can expect a very nice evening with wine, hors d’oeuvres and a buffet dinner and, according to Diem, “After the discussion, people are introduced and they announce how much they raised that night.”

Psychology professor Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill will be one of the conversation leaders at the event; her topic, “Surviving Disaster: What You Should Know” will discuss how to manage stress after a disaster. “There’s different layers of disaster. People are just shocked and they’re just trying to put it all together.”

McNaughton-Cassill has not only attended the event before, she has been as a conversation leader before. “What I like about the Great Conversation is I kind of get in my rut. I read and do psychology, and there might be someone else with some different point of view.”

For those attending, McNaughton-Cassill says they don’t need to inform themselves on topics beforehand. “The main point is to share ideas. Most of the tables are going to be relying on experiences and opinions.”

With 36 topics to choose from, an attendee can gain a new interest or expand on a familiar subject. Topics are divided by categories including arts, literature and culture; business and community; education; leisure and lifestyles; politics and history; and science, social science and technology.

The topics change with culture and time: “This year there’s one on video games and their effect on aggression and also one on the Affordable Care Act; Lynn Hickey is doing a topic on a Woman in a Man’s World about sports,” adds Diem.

The Great Conversation! will be hosted at the Institute of Texan Cultures on Feb. 25 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $95.

For more information, visit

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