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Last Lecture Series at ODU

The students are enjoying the lectures. The faculty members love to give them. Old Dominion University's first-ever Last Lecture Series is a success.

The series, which asks university instructors to deliver the lecture they would like to give if they never had another chance to speak publicly, is sponsored by ODU's Office of Student Affairs.

It's inspired by a taped lecture, and then a book, by the late Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch.

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 are scheduled this month.

On Monday, March 16, English Department instructor Joseph Cosco will give his talk, "This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the American Dream." The talk runs from 12-1 p.m. in the James/Lynnhaven River Room of Webb Center.

On Tuesday, March 17, English instructor Jean Roberts will give her lecture, "Stress - Management and the Art of Relaxation," from 7-8 p.m. in the James/Lynnhaven River Room.

On Wednesday, March 18, biological sciences associate professor Deborah Waller will give her talk, "Wild Places, Wild Lives." The talk will run from 12-1 p.m. in the Potomac/York River Room.

The Last Lecture Series continues in April.

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 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 Last Lecture Series 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: March 9, 2009

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