Carnegie Mellon University

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Randy's Story

Randy Pausch's story started long before his famous "Last Lecture."

"Entering Carnegie Mellon as a freshman, I was a scared, lonely, homesick kid. It was Prof. Pausch's lecture that helped persevere and embrace my college experience. Prof. Pausch's advice helped me tackle obstacles, see the good in people and most importantly, showed me how great a university Carnegie Mellon is."

-Christopher Soo (S '11)

A Carnegie Mellon University alumnus, Pausch co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center and led researchers who created Alice, a revolutionary way to teach computer programming.

He was widely respected in academic circles for a unique interdisciplinary approach, bringing together artists, dramatists and designers to break new ground by working in collaboration with computer scientists.

Randy Pausch at the Last Lecture

As a professor, he inspired countless students in the classroom. Outside the classroom, he gained public fame for delivering what would come to be known as "The Last Lecture."

On Sept. 18, 2007, only a month after doctors told him that he had three-to-six months to live following a recurrence of pancreatic cancer, he presented a lecture called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" to a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon.

The moving and often humorous talk recounted his efforts to achieve such childhood dreams as becoming a professional football player, experiencing zero gravity and developing Disney World attractions. In the process, he shared his insights on finding the good in other people, working hard to overcome obstacles and living generously.

The video appeared on countless websites and has been viewed by millions. Appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC's Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News followed.

A book version, "The Last Lecture" co-written by Jeff Zaslow (1958-2012) of the Wall Street Journal (and a fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus), became a bestseller upon its release.

Pausch maintained a page on his personal website with day-to-day updates on his life and his health.

While millions worldwide were touched by his highly acclaimed lecture, Randy continued battling pancreatic cancer, and died of complications at the age of 47. Read "In Memoriam."

"Randy had an enormous and lasting impact on Carnegie Mellon," said Carnegie Mellon President Emeritus Jared L. Cohon.

Randy and Family

"A brilliant researcher and gifted teacher, he was a key member of our Human-Computer Interaction Institute and co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center. His love of teaching, his sense of fun and his brilliance came together in the Alice project, which teaches students computer programming while enabling them to do something fun — making animated movies and games. Carnegie Mellon — and the world — are better places for having had Randy Pausch in them."

Pausch was also a pioneer in the development of virtual reality, including creating the popular Building Virtual Worlds class.

Dad of Dylan, Logan and Chloe, Randy is survived by his children, and his wife, Jai.

A memorial service was held at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 28, 2008. Learn more about His Legacy.

News organizations around the globe have featured Randy Pausch's story.

The Wall Street Journal

The New York Times

ABC News



Other Media Outlets


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