More than a year after he was given six months to live, and after 10 months during which he touched millions over the Internet with his last lecture and helped write a best-selling book about life, illness, and hope, Randy Pausch died today, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Pausch, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was 47.
In September 2006, Mr. Pausch was told that he had incurable pancreatic cancer. His last lecture, at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007, about achieving childhood dreams, drew international attention and was viewed by millions on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.
It also spawned the book The Last Lecture, written with Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Last month Mr. Zaslow told an audience of college officials at The Chronicle’s Executive Leadership Forum that Mr. Pausch had given him information for the book while riding his bicycle. Mr. Pausch donned a headset and spoke to Mr. Zaslow over a couple of months in sessions that totaled 53 hours. He also revealed that Mr. Pausch’s health had deteriorated sharply in recent months.
Mr. Pausch said he felt awkward about his fame, but he did use his influence to lobby Congress for more federal support for pancreatic-cancer research. He also appeared on Oprah and other TV shows. He even got a small role as an extra in a new Star Trek movie.
In his lecture and book, Mr. Pausch talked a lot about the need to have fun in life. “I mean I don’t know how to not have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it,” he said in his Carnegie Mellon lecture. “You just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate.”
In honor of Mr. Pausch, Carnegie Mellon plans to name a footbridge after him. The bridge will connect the university’s Gates Center for Computer Science with the Purnell Center for the Arts. Hilary Robinson, a university dean, told The Chronicle that the bridge symbolizes Mr. Pausch’s commitment to an interdisciplinary approach to computer-science education.
Today Mr. Pausch’s home page at Carnegie Mellon could not be opened, probably because it was overwhelmed with traffic from all over the Internet. —Josh Fischman