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Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

From University of Virginia News Announcement
September 20, 2007

By Gabriel Robins


Colleagues,

Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" was simply magnificent!

Many people who missed the live Webcast from CMU have asked where they can find the archived video, and CMU has kindly produced a permanent video of Randy's talk, viewable on the Web at:

www.cs.virginia.edu/robins/Randy_Last_Lecture.html

Randy was a professor at the UVa Department of Computer Science during the years 1988-1997 (and he then moved to CMU). He recently learned that he has terminal pancreatic cancer and very sadly only a few months left to live (he is 46 years old, and has three children of ages 1, 3, and 5). He discusses the details of his ordeal at http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/.

During his "Last Public Lecture", Randy was very upbeat and humorous, and in his usual top form, rapidly switching between standup comedy, insights on computer science and engineering education, advice on building multi-disciplinary collaborations, working in groups and interacting with other people, offering inspirational life lessons, and doing one-handed push-ups on stage! :)

This was one of the most entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring talks that I have ever heard, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

This talk was modeled after an existing series of lectures where top academics were asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical "final talk", i.e., "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?" And in Randy's case, this was more than an academic exercise.

Before he even started speaking, Randy got a long standing ovation from the huge crowd of around 500 colleagues and students; when he motioned them to sit down, saying "make me earn it", some of them shouted back "you already did!". Then it got even better from there. (See www.cs.virginia.edu/robins/Randy_Last_Lecture.html for the complete video.)

Andries van Dam (from Brown University) followed Randy with a tearful and impassioned speech praising Randy for his courage and leadership, calling him a role model and "a Mensch" (which in Yiddish means "someone to admire and emulate, of noble character"), a very high compliment, especially coming from the legendary Andy van Dam himself.

Electronic Arts Inc. (maker of the popular "Sims" family of computer games with over 100 million copies sold) is now commercializing Randy's Alice system (http://www.alice.org/), and pledged to create in Randy's honor a memorial scholarship for women in computer science, in recognition of Randy's staunch support and mentoring of women in CS and engineering.

The president of CMU (Jared Cohon) spoke emotionally of Randy's humanity, and called Randy's contributions to CMU and to education "remarkable and stunning". He then announced that CMU will celebrate Randy's impact on the world by building and naming after Randy a raised pedestrian bridge that will connect CMU's new Computer Science building with their Center for the Arts, symbolizing the way Randy linked those two disciplines. It will be called the "Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge".

Randy's talk was also widely reported in the national and international media / TV, as detailed in the Randy Pausch Legacy Web site.

A talk this good, and a person of Randy's caliber, are very rare indeed.

Randy has reprised his "Last Lecture" on the Oprah Show to a national audience of millions of viewers. This talk can help many people gain new perspectives on their own lives and careers.

Randy's lecture on "Time Management" is also available on the Web. Additional video lectures by Randy Pausch, including higher-resolution downloadable versions, are available as well.

Please feel free to disseminate this announcement widely, link to the videos above, etc.

Enjoy!

Gabe Robins



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