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Todd Pfannestiel

Clarion University faculty members Drs. Todd Pfannestiel (department of history) and Phil Terman (department of English) will reignite the Last Lecture Series at 7 p.m. April 24 in level A of Carlson Library.

Sponsored by the National Residence Hall Honorary, the Last Lecture Series gives professors the opportunity to answer the question, “What would you say to students if this were your last chance to address them?”

According to NRHH president Bethany Crum, the April 24 lectures will end a six-year hiatus.

“I saw the old advertisement (for the lecture) in a binder and brought it forth to the organization,” Crum said. “The group felt it would be a great event to bring back to Clarion.”

Crum said that, after selecting this year’s lecturers, NRHH gave few guidelines.

“They’ll be a surprise to everyone,” Crum said. “I think it will be interesting to see a new side of professors and hear them outside of a classroom.”

In preparation for his lecture, Pfannestiel said he’s designing it “not to be a boring history lecture – I give enough of those in my everyday life.”

“I want to reflect on my own experiences,” Pfannestiel said. “I hope to give some advice that students will be able to take away by saying ‘Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made, but try to take advantage of the opportunities I managed to take advantage of.”

Phil Terman

Likewise, Terman hopes to present his own area of expertise – poetry – in a way that engages even the non-poets in the audience.

“I want to talk about how the spirit of poetry can deepen our sensitivity into the lives of others, and therefore ourselves, inspiring us into a more enriching participation in the act of healing the world,” Terman said.

Though it has been around for years, the notion of the “last lecture” was made popular in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon professor Dr. Randy Pausch. For Pausch, the lecture held more weight than usual; diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, his last lecture was not hypothetical. About a year after delivering his final address to students, Pausch died.

Jamie Phillips

“(Pausch’s) lecture – the way he handled the situation with which he was presented – has  certainly been inspirational,” Pfannestiel said. “Obviously I don’t have the same context, but it’s a kind of interesting mindset to be in; I’m maybe 20 years away from retirement, and it’s interesting to think about what I really want to leave behind for students.”

The Last Lecture Series will continue at 7 p.m. May 1 in level A of Carlson Library when Drs. Ralph Leary and Jamie Phillips will present their own addresses. The lectures are free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be available.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

4/1/2013 8:00 AM

Last Lecture Series returns to Clarion