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Life Arts    H2'ed 7/27/08

Inspiring "Last Lecture" Professor Dies

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Carnegie-Mellon computer science professor Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” given last September to several hundred students and faculty members at the university, was posted to YouTube primarily for the students and teachers who could not attend. 


It immediately went viral and has been viewed over 6 million times. At the time, Pausch’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer a month earlier had offered him about 2-5 more months to live. Whether it was because of his remarkable attitude, or his medical care (which he characterized as “spectacular”), or both, he outlived his diagnosis by several months when he died on Friday, July 25.




On March 13, 2008, Pausch provided a poignant testimony to Congress in behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, saying that pancreatic cancer is the “4th leading killer amongst cancers,” and “it is one of the only cancers that you can point to and say—in the last 30 years we have made no progress.” He encouraged substantial government grants and funding for pancreatic cancer research saying “the smart people work on what there is money to work on. If the money’s there, I bet anything that by the time my kids are my age, we’ll have it licked.”

Pancreatic cancer has been linked to heredity.

Pausch was a devoted Star Trek fan, and has a cameo role in the upcoming Star Trek movie as a result of a personal invitation from the director, J.J. Abrams.

Pausch's book, “The Last Lecture,” was a runaway bestseller shortly after publication. Rob Kall reviewed it at


Pausch posted an online diary in which he kept well-wishers up to date with his progress. His last entry was on June 26th. A friend posted for him on July 24, “because we know that many folks are watching this space for updates.” That post revealed that the professor was in hospice. He is survived by his wife, Jai, his three children, his mother and sister, and millions of people around the world who were inspired by his continuing attitude of finding the joy in each day.

During his remarkable journey he spoke several times of crafting a “safety net” for his family and he received many “fan” letters from people whose hearts had been touched (including mine, which is below).



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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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