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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Faculty asked to give their 'last' lecture

When Jason Wright, a senior education major from Columbus, Kan., saw a presentation on “The Last Lecture” at a conference for residence hall assistants, he knew it was something he wanted to bring to the Pittsburg State University campus. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, six members of the PSU faculty who have been asked to imagine that this is their last opportunity to talk to students, will share their best advice. The lectures will take place in the Dellinger Hall Underground.

Around the country, students like Wright have been inspired by the story of Randy Pausch, a member of the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, whose “last lecture” has generated national attention, including millions of hits on YouTube and Facebook. Last lecture series, in which faculty are invited to imagine what they would say to students if they knew they were about to die have become popular on college campuses. For Pausch, his lecture in Sept. 2007 was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old professor, who had been battling pancreatic cancer, had been told by doctors that he could measure the rest of his life in mere months. Pausch titled his lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

Today Pausch’s inspiring lecture can be found on YouTube and other social networking sites. It has been translated into several other languages and is being made into a book.

Dr. Julie Samuels, director of PSU’s Honors College and a member of the faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said she is thinking of her own legacy as she thinks about what she wants to say to students.

“I think my take on this is that we are searching for a reason to exist and I believe it is vital to let our lives speak to our passion,” Samuels said. “As I prepare for this event, I am thinking about what I want my legacy to be in this life. I want to share my desire to live life to the fullest making sure that I make a positive difference in the lives of people.”

In addition to Samuels, other faculty who are slated to speak are: J.T. Knoll, director of Student Prevention and Wellness; Dr. Mark Johnson, a member of the faculty in the Department of Technology Management; Jack Kennedy, who recently retired from the Department of English; Dennis Jameson – an officer with University Police and Parking Services; and Dr. Howard R. Smith, a member of the faculty and interim chairman of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Wright said he has hopes that the PSU Last Lecture Showcase is successful enough to become a full-fledged lecture series.

For more information, contact Wright by e-mail at
jswright@pittstate.edu. For more on Randy Pausch’s lecture, including links to his personal Web site, go to http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture/.

---Pitt State---