Last Lecture honoree chosen

GVL Archive
Chuck Pazdernik, Chair of the Classics Department

GVL Archive Chuck Pazdernik, Chair of the Classics Department

Hannah Lentz

Charles Pazdernik, a classics professor at Grand Valley State University, was chosen by the Student Senate to deliver this year’s “Last Lecture.”

The annual Last Lecture series is based on a similar event held in 2007 by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. At GVSU, a faculty member is voted upon through the senate and asked to give a presentation to current students.

“For many students, college is a busy period of life that can be improved with the help of faculty members who give the Last Lecture to illustrate the value of lifelong learning and reflection,” said Scott St. Louis, the senate’s vice president for educational affairs.

Last year, approximately 120 people attended the event featuring professor Kathleen Underwood, who expressed the idea that college is a gift and an opportunity students should take full advantage of.

“Professor Pazdernik was chosen not only because of the number and quality of the student nominations supporting him, but also because of his recent personal experiences which are consistent with the spirit of Last Lecture,” St. Louis said.

Despite having suffered a severe spinal injury upon colliding with a car while biking to work, Pazdernik is making progress as he learns to walk again. Additionally, during his extensive stay at the hospital, Pazdernik has been advising his students online to ensure they are attended to in his absence.

“It’s especially important for me to find ways to continue to participate in the life of the university and in professional and academic life more generally,” Pazdernik said. “This invitation now to share some of those experiences and perspectives with the GVSU community at large is one for which I’m very grateful.”

Pazdernik’s lecture will focus on his own experiences as well as experiences from history in relation to living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

“I have to imagine those of us who have led relatively prosperous and fortunate lives have asked ourselves at one point how we would respond to a catastrophic change in those lives,” Pazdernik said. “As someone who has studied ancient Greece and Rome, I’m keenly aware of the extent to which these kinds of ‘reversals of fortune’ influenced thinking about what it means to be a human.

“Without presuming to offer answers to these questions, I hope to share some of the resources from Classical civilization that have been especially relevant and valuable to me as I’ve navigated my own reversal of fortune.”

The Last Lecture will be held Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Mary Idema Pew Library on the Allendale Campus. The event is LIB 100 approved and is a PanHellenic Community event. Food and beverages will also be provided.

Any questions can be directed to Scott St. Louis at [email protected].

[email protected]