Wednesday, 30 July 2008
The last lecture
Randy Pausch is either someone you’ve never heard of, or a person who has profoundly affected your life. A computer scientist and computer science professor at
But it was his commitment to the human reality for which he will be most remembered.
“This lecture series used to be called ‘The Last Lecture,” he said. “If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would it be? I thought, ‘Damn! I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it!’” At the time of the lecture, despite the fact of his terminal illness, he was in perfect health. “If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be,” he said, “sorry to disappoint you.” Speaking of the “cognitive dissonance” between his prognosis and his present state he said, “I am in phenomenally good health right now,” adding, “in fact, I’m in better shape than most of you,” whereupon he proceeded to do a number of pushups on stage much to the delight of the audience. “So anybody who wants to cry or pity me can come down and do a few of those and then you may pity me.”
In his lecture he listed his childhood dreams, which included becoming a Disney “Imagineer,” being Captain Kirk, and experiencing weightlessness. Throughout his laugh-out-loud speech he delineated how he had met, or nearly met, all of his goals, and the importance of not giving up on dreams.
The humor, warmth and wisdom of his lecture proved to be an inspiration to thousands of people. He appeared on Oprah (which shouldn't be held against him), the city of
His colleagues were more than willing to join in the nation-wide praise.
“Randy had an enormous and lasting impact on Carnegie Mellon,” said University President Jared L. Cohon. “He was a brilliant researcher and gifted teacher. His love of teaching, his sense of fun and his brilliance came together in the
“Randy was a force of nature,” said Gabriel Robins, a computer science professor at the
Pausch was a dynamic teacher and speaker. Andy van Dam, a longtime mentor to Pausch, said, “Good teaching is always a performance, but what Randy did was in a class all by itself” and compared the response of his students as being similar to that given by athletes to “a great coach who cares not only about winning but about the team players as individuals.”
Pausch’s entire Last Lecture can be seen on YouTube. There have been, and are likely to be, few other lectures to match it.
Official Google Blog: Goodbye to Randy Pausch, a great teacher