Randy Pausch was invited to present his "last lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University after it became generally known that his pancreatic cancer had progressed to a terminal stage. Carnegie Mellon has a tradition of inviting respected instructors to consider their life and work and present a "last lecture" based on the message(s) they would want to deliver if they knew this was the final lecture of their career.
Pausch's presentation was delivered on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon to a standing-room-only audience of students and associates from his academic career, which included a position as a professor of computer science, design, and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon among other positions.
The speech, which Pausch entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," reviewed life lessons he had gleaned from failures that were reframed as opportunities which allowed him to enjoy experiences that had started as dreams. While the lessons were relevant for the collegiate-level audience at the lecture, Pausch reveals in his closing that the content of the message was actually directed toward his three young children, since he knew he wouldn't be alive to help them overcome obstacles in their lives.
Randy Pausch died July 25, 2008.