View Full Version : Last Lecture Professor has died

07-25-2008, 11:35 AM


PITTSBURGH - Randy Pausch, a computer science professor whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, has died. He was 47.

Pausch died early Friday at his home in Virginia, said Anne Watzman, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he worked. 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 in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet.

n 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, leaped to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists after its publication in April and remains there this week. 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.

Flamboyance and showmanship
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."

Last lecture in November
"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.

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.

07-25-2008, 11:53 AM
I always am in awe of people that take such monumental upheavels in their life in stride.

My mother died from pancreatic cancer in 2002. It is one of the most invasive and hard to cure cancers. My mom lived for three years with her condition and never failed to amaze me. When she was first diagnosed she endured a 5 hour surgery in which they attempted to remove the tumor from her pancreas. Due to the involvement of arteries they were unable to do so. Prior to her surgery we were informed that this was her only chance and if they were unable to remove the tumor she would die within 3 months.
They were unable to remove the tumor and when my sister and I broke the news to her in recovery she never faltered in her faith that she could beat this.
Over the course of 3 years they had my mom on 3 kinds of experimental chemo and she also underwent a course in radiation where she joked with me she finally got tattooed like I always wanted.
With each new chemo my mom would read the list of side effects and state "That wont happen to me" and it didnt. She never lost her hair or suffered much beyond exhaustion the day after treatment.
When the treaments stopped working and there were no more left to try my Mother still stayed upbeat and positive. She had had a good life, a wonderful marriage and loved both her children and grandchildren. In those last days nothing was left unsaid. In the end she really was only out of it a couple of days and never really suffered physically. I was with her when she died, she had chosen to go into a hospice as to spare me and my sister any indignities. She was ready to move on, she had alot of people waiting for her including my father who had passed away 9 years away. In the last moments I did have to tell her it was okay to go, that all of us would be okay and I thanked her for being my mother.

These are the unsung hero's. The people that even when they deserve to be selfish still choose to give and comfort others.

07-25-2008, 01:11 PM
In case no one has seen it, this was his last lecture..


RIP to him his lecture was one of the best I've seen and it's sad to see someone who achieved so much die so young.

07-25-2008, 05:47 PM
i still need to finish it, i watched alot but kids were yelling and screaming and couldn't finish

07-25-2008, 06:55 PM
amazing guy .. i watched 20 mins and i`ll watch the rest .. but this guy is just amazing .. everyone i realy recommend this "last lecture"

07-25-2008, 07:47 PM
that's very sad, RIP