With his Death Looming, Randy Pausch Gives the Lecture of a Lifetime

September 25, 2007

Sept. 25, 2007 -- Randy Pausch, a former University of Virginia computer science professor who is now at Carnegie Mellon University, is receiving national and international attention for a lecture that he gave a week ago.

It was not just any lecture.

Titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch’s presentation was part of "Journeys," a lecture series at CMU where members of the faculty are invited to "share their reflections on their journeys — the everyday actions, decisions, challenges and joys that make life."

What sets this lecture apart from others in the series is that the 46-year-old Pausch, who taught a U.Va. from 1988 to 1997, is dying of pancreatic cancer and has only a few months to live.

Pausch’s lecture and the story behind it have been reported in national media from The Wall Street Journal to the Chronicle of Higher Education. An online video became so popular that servers at Carnegie Mellon were unable to sustain the volume of traffic from around the world.

Gabriel Robins, professor of computer science at U.Va. and Pausch's former colleague, described the lecture as "one of the most entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring talks that I have ever heard" in an e-mail to his colleagues at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Robins, who said that interacting with Pausch is like experiencing a force of nature, describes the lecture as ground-breaking.

“It is very rare for a single lecture to contain so much meaning, insights, value, and humanity,” said Robbins. “Randy’s legacy will continue to impact and improve the lives of so many people, long after he leaves us."

Pausch is a co-founder of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and the creator of the Alice interactive computing program, which is used by students worldwide.