Last Lecture: Professor Randy Pausch Dies

Carnegie Mellon University professor Dr. Randy Pausch, 47, died of pancreatic cancer today. Pausch inspired the nation with his “last lecture,” a moving discussion of his life and his approaching death. This story became the subject of a best seller and his lecture below was viewed by millions.

Pausch died in his family home in Virginia, where he moved so that his wife could be close to her family. He showed the new home in his lecture below.

His courage and dignity was amazing. He left his children, his students, his colleagues, and the nation a great gift in this unique lecture.

For the moving last lecture, click here.

For the full story, click here and here.

9 thoughts on “Last Lecture: Professor Randy Pausch Dies”

  1. By the way, the happy face in my last comment was a typo, a semi colon gone wrong. I wouldn’t be so tacky as to include a smiley face in this thread. Also please forgive the spelling error, not once, but twice of Professor Pausch’s name.

    Admittedly it was a typo, but given the topic an unforgivable one. My apologies.

  2. Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons;they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs,
    for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.

    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann

  3. jonathanturley
    1, July 25, 2008 at 9:24 pm


    Hey, thanks for putting up that link to his lecture. I had heard about the Last Lecture, and think I had even seen a one minute clip from it somewhere a while back, but I had never had the chance to really watch it.

    This was no self gratutious “stiff upper lip” display of mock courage in the face of terminal
    illness. This was a guy, looking at the unavoidable end of his time here, and with his family, and just accepting it like it was the conclusion of some project he was working on at Electronic Arts. There was not a hint, not a trace, of “feel sorry for me”, not a moment, even for a nano second, where a moment of silence for the sake of polite reverence was implied to the audience. He sounded like a CEO of a company, who just accepted a high dollar offer to go work for another company and was simply bidding goodbye to the staff.

    I myself am 47 too and have been thinking on my own immortality in light of recent passings of several famous figures all around my age, coupled with the recent loss of a parent to cancer, and seeing this video from Professor Pauch really moved me in several ways I find difficult to articulate. I don’t know what this guy believed in or didn’t believe in with regards to some sort of after life, I saw some stuff in the blog at the link for the “Last Lecture” , mostly from Christians (one pompous ass declaring how “he’ll STILL pray for this man of science”) as if this Professor Pauch needed his prayers, but listening to him talk I perceived a rather open minded individual who didn’t need all that stuff in order to live a good life, so I’ll just say this.

    I don’t know if theres something, or nothing after we leave here, so if its nothing, then I guess we’ll all be nothing together. And if its something, then I imagine we’ll all be something together.

    Not that everyone will take that away from watching the Last Lecture, but thats what I took away from it, and oddly enough to me thats sort of a comforting thought. Maybe not exactly comforting, but reassuring, in a Desiderata sort of way.

    Anyway I hope everyone takes an hour and 16 minutes out of their lives, to watch that video of the Last Lecture. We talk a lot about courage these days. Maybe its time we all took a peek at what it really looks like.

  4. My thoughts are with you all, today, Randy AND wonderful, loving, supportive, family – wife, Jai, and children Dylan, Logan and Chloe.


    ‘Last Lecture’ Professor Randy Pausch Has Died
    CBS News Interactive: Cancer
    PITTSBURGH (CBS) ― Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose “last lecture” about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47.

    Pausch died at his home in Virginia, university spokeswoman Anne Watzman said. Pausch and his family moved there last fall to be closer to his wife’s relatives.

    Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet.

    In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.

    “The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful,” Pausch wrote on his Web site. “But rest assured; I’m hardly unique.”

    The book “The Last Lecture,” written with Jeffrey Zaslow, has spent 14 weeks on the New York Times best seller list since its publication in April. Pausch said he dictated the book to Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer, by cell phone. The book deal was reported to be worth more than $6 million.

    At Carnegie Mellon, he was a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, and was recognized as a pioneer of virtual reality research. On campus, he became known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor.

    The speech last fall was part of a series Carnegie Mellon called “The Last Lecture,” where professors were asked to think about what matters to them most and give a hypothetical final talk. The name of the lecture series was changed to “Journeys” before Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.

    “I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it,” he said.

    He told the packed auditorium he fulfilled almost all his childhood dreams – being in zero gravity, writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working with the Walt Disney Co.

    The one that eluded him? Playing in the National Football League.

    “If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” Pausch said.

    He then joked about his quirky hobby of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks – another of his childhood dreams – and how his mother introduced him to people to keep him humble: “This is my son, he’s a doctor, but not the kind that helps people.”

    Pausch said he was embarrassed and flattered by the popularity of his message. Millions viewed the complete or abridged version of the lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” online.

    Pausch lobbied Congress for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research and appeared on “Oprah” and other TV shows. In what he called “a truly magical experience,” he was even invited to appear as an extra in the new “Star Trek” movie.

    He had one line of dialogue, got to keep his costume and donated his $217.06 paycheck to charity.

    Pausch blogged regularly about his medical treatment. On Feb. 15, exactly six months after he was told he had three to six months of healthy living left, Pausch posted a photo of himself to show he was “still alive & healthy.”

    “I rode my bike today; the cumulative effects of the chemotherapy are hurting my stamina some, but I bet I can still run a quarter mile faster than most Americans,” he wrote.

    Pausch gave one more lecture after his Carnegie Mellon appearance – in November at the University of Virginia, where he had taught from 1988 to 1997.

    Pausch often emphasized the need to have fun.

    “I mean I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it,” he said in his Carnegie Mellon lecture. “You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us.”

    Born in 1960, Pausch received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

    He co-founded Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a master’s program for bringing artists and engineers together. The university named a footbridge in his honor. He also created an animation-based teaching program for high school and college students to have fun while learning computer programming.

    In February, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.

    He and his wife, Jai, had three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe.

    (© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  5. jonathanturley 1, July 25, 2008 at 9:24 pm


    I believe your posting is far superior to the original blog entry, thanks.


    Surprised the hell outta me. I hope to see more!

  6. Bartlebee:

    I believe your posting is far superior to the original blog entry, thanks.


  7. I didn’t know this guy, but we grew up at the exact same time and its weird thinking he’s gone, after watching his video.

    Seeing the pictures of him as a kid looked so much like the pictures I have of myself at that time it was surreal for me. In fact, I noticed he put up a photo of his tv set showing the moon landing. We all had that photo. I’ll never forget that image, or that wonderful, wonderful day. Hell that entire year. What a wonderful time to be alive. And wanting to meet Capt Kirk, his love of the original Star Trek, us both being the same age, both growing up in Virginia,I mean, except for the fact this guy is a somebody, who’s done so much amazing stuff, and I’m a nobody who’s done as little as I possibly could, this guy could have been me.

    Then, listening to him talk about his dreams, how he fulfilled them, some as he wanted, some in other ways, gaining life experience, its weird because you find yourself in awe of his the amazing zest of life he has, and laughing over and over at his jokes, and then, realize he was dying, and knew he was dying.

    Just incredible. More than amazing courage. Its an amazing demonstration of an extremely mature comprehension, and a commitment to enjoy every day he had. Then I look at others, Tim Russert, Tony Snow, both dying at 53, (just a few years off), and I think, my God, where did my life go?

    I didn’t know this guy, but I feel a sense of loss now that he’s gone. He clearly was a better man than me, and I’m left questioning the judgment of the cosmos in taking this wonderfully brilliant, exciting and gifted man who loved people as much as he loved life, and leaving the likes of me here. I feel like I should be calling someone on some cosmic phone, and saying “hey, theres been a mixup”.

    Anyway thanks for posting this (I think). It really is a fascinating life lesson for anyone willing to watch this entire lecture, and see there are still people, even at some of our ages, that we can look up to, and aspire to be just a little bit more like in our own lives. And at the very least, appreciate the time we have left.

    And who knows? Maybe even do something with it.

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