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ODU Faculty Line Up to Give Their Last Lecture

What would you talk about if you were about to give your last lecture ever? That's what nine Old Dominion University faculty members have wrestled with in developing talks for the school's first-ever Last Lecture series.

Inspired by a taped lecture, and then a book, by the late Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, the lecture series is being put on by ODU's Office of Student Affairs.

Vicki Bonner, associate director of student development and engagement, says the lecture series is an effort to help students connect with their instructors on a level beyond professor-pupil.

"These are amazing, smart, talented people, with diverse interests and passions," Bonner said. "We wanted a chance for our students to see them as more than people who talk at them in class."

When Bonner suggested the idea to ODU faculty members last fall, she was shocked at how many of them were excited to participate.

"I put the inquiry out on a Friday afternoon, asking if anyone would be interested in our own Last Lecture Series. I had three volunteers by the end of the day," Bonner said. "There were actually more professors who wanted to participate than we had space for this year, so we've already started to plan next fall's program."

The next two lectures in the series are this week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, Elizabeth Leeor will give her talk, "I Will Get Out of Bed and Go to Class on Time! And Other Daily Affirmations." The talk is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. in the Potomac/York Room of Webb Center. Leeor, an ODU graduate, has been an associate professor of art at the school since 2001.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, Tammi Milliken will give her lecture, "Don't Get Spun Out! Harvard Mind/Body Techniques to Combat Stress," from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Potomac/York Room. Milliken, assistant professor of human services, has conducted stress management workshops since 2000.

Other upcoming talks include: "This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the American Dream," by Joseph Cosco, English department instructor, on March 16; "Stress - Management and the Art of Relaxation," by Jean Roberts, English instructor, on March 17; and "Wild Places, Wild Lives," by Deborah Waller, associate professor of biological sciences, on March 18.

On April 6, Cecilia Petretto, instructor of English, gives her lecture, "The Heroic Quest: Mythology as a Means of Interpreting Life."

And on April 7, Robert Strozak, mathematics and statistics lecturer, gives his talk, "Mathemagic - Magic Tricks with Mathematical Solutions."

Randy Pausch gave his talk Sept. 18, 2007, after receiving a terminal prognosis for the pancreatic cancer with which he had been diagnosed over a year earlier.

In an upbeat and humorous speech, Pausch offered listeners his students advice that could be applied to their personal and professional life.

Shortly after the lecture, Pausch wrote a book to better educate people about his methods for living a more fulfilling life, by simply achieving childhood dreams.

The talks are free for ODU students, but registration is requested due to limited space.

To register, go to: http://studentaffairs.odu.edu/lastlectureseries.

This article was posted on: February 16, 2009

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