Campus Life

Last Lecture always a ULSU highlight

People from all walks of life have had a teacher or mentor whose words of wisdom have made a profound difference in the way they view and respond to life's challenges. Unfortunately, more often than not, those who inspire and encourage us aren't always recognized.

That's part of the reason the University of Lethbridge Students' Union (ULSU) developed the annual Teaching Excellence Award (TEA). For the last three years, students at the U of L have had the opportunity to nominate a professor, sessional staff or lab instructor, who has shown outstanding efforts to improve the learning experience of students, for this award.

"There are plenty of ways that teachers are recognized, but until the ULSU Teaching Excellence Award began, they were all driven by University employees such as professors and staff," says former student council member and TEA organizer, Andrew Williams.

"The ULSU's award is unique in that it is the only student-driven award at the U of L that recognizes true teaching excellence from the student perspective. I think that makes it even more special for its recipients."

Up to three professors can receive the Teaching Excellence Award and will be recognized at the University's Last Lecture event.

The Last Lecture started at the U of L in April 2008 and is based on the world-renowned speech given in 2007 by computer science professor, Randy Pausch, at Carnegie Mellon University.

Pausch had been diagnosed with terminal cancer that would claim his life in a matter of months, however, upon delivering his last lecture Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, he provided his audience with thoughtful insight about living, not dying. He spoke about overcoming obstacles and seizing every moment because, "time is all you have . . . and you may find one day that you have less than you think".

Pausch's speech became a phenomenon and shortly thereafter universities around the world began delivering their own last lectures, not necessarily given by dying professors but by teachers looking to impart their last words of wisdom.

"The Last Lecture is the chance to leave a message – a legacy – for those who are here and those who have yet to come," says ULSU VP Academic, Julia Adolf. "It will give students the advice that professors wished they had taken; it will let them learn from their mistakes and from their accomplishments. The students here at the University of Lethbridge look to their professors for assistance and advice. The Last Lecture is no different, but instead of finding it in textbooks and published journals, they find guidance and wisdom that only personal experience can offer."

This year's Last Lecture speakers are Dr. Peter Dibble (chemistry and biochemistry), Nicholas Hanson (theatre and drama) and Dr. Sheila McManus (history). The event takes place on Wednesday, Apr. 17, at 7 p.m. in the University's main theatre.