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Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch Photo

Randolph Frederick or most commonly known as “Randy” Pausch was born on 23rd October 1960, in Baltimore, Maryland to Fred and Virginia Pausch.  Fred was a lawyer and an insurance executive, while Virginia was an English teacher.

The Pausch parents encouraged their kids (Randy and his sister, Tammy) to read and discussions about philosophy, religion, and morals were an ongoing element in their house. Randy completed his initial education from the Oakland Mills High School in Columbia and was later enrolled at Brown University to study computer science. In 1982 he got his bachelor’s degree and in 1988 he received his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.


While pursuing his doctorate, Randy Pausch started teaching at the University of Virginia. He spent nearly a decade there and took a few years sabbatical to pursue one of his childhood dreams of working for the Disney Corp. Disney was so impressed by Randy’s work that they offered him a permanent position, which Randy declined and went back to teaching. However, he stayed as a consultant to Disney throughout his career.

In 1997, he joined his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University as an Associate Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design. A year later, Randy collaborated with Don Marinelli and co-found CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).

Apart from his academic career, he was also a consultant to companies like Google, PARC, and Media Metrix. He was also a prolific writer and co-authored five books and over 70 articles.

The beginning of the End

By mid-2006, Randy started experiencing extreme health issues. By end of 2006, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even thou he immediately underwent a Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) all attempts to prevent any further spread of disease were unsuccessful and in 2007 he was given just six months to live.

On the verge of death, Randy Pausch went into overdrive and decided to leave a legacy that would inspire millions of people around the world. Being a dedicated teacher, he decided to make teaching his students the value of time management and how to achieve your childhood dreams his parting gift.

So on 18th September 2007, he delivered ‘The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’ at Carnegie Mellon. His lecture was posted to YouTube where it soon became a viral phenomenon. The effects of the lecture were so profoundly inspiring that he was invited to talk about it on the popular TV talk show, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’.

The overnight popularity gained by the lecture resulted in Randy co-authoring his final book called ‘The Last Lecture,’ with Jeffrey Zaslow from the ‘Wall Street Journal.’ The book became a ‘New York Times’ bestseller in 2008, got translated into more than 48 languages and sold 5 million copies in the U.S. alone

Awards & Achievements

Randy Pausch was the first professor from CMU to receive the prestigious Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award in 2007. That same year, he was also awarded the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education. He was also given honorary fellowship of ACM in 2007, and in 2008, he was named Pittsburgher of the Year.

Randy Pausch was married to Jai Glasgow and together they had three children; Dylan, Logan, and Chloe. Randy’s condition worsened by mid-2008 and he died from pancreatic cancer on 25th July 2008, at the age of 47.

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