anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me
let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.
Other people who help us besides our parents: our teachers, our mentors, our friends, our colleagues. God, what is there to say about Andy Van Dam? When I was a freshman at Brown, he was on leave. And all I heard about was this Andy Van Dam. He was like a mythical creature. Like a centaur, but like a really pissed off centaur. And everybody was like really sad that he was gone, but kind of more relaxed? And I found out why. Because I started working for Andy. I was a teaching assistant for him as a sophomore. And I was quite an arrogant young man. And I came in to some office hours and of course it was nine o’clock at night and Andy was there at office hours, which is your first clue as to what kind of professor he was. And I come bounding in and you know, I’m just I’m going to save the world. There’re all these kids waiting for help, da da, da da, da da, da da, da da. And afterwards, Andy literally Dutch-uncled – he’s Dutch, right? He Dutch-uncled me. And he put his arm around my shoulders and we went for a little walk and he said, Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant. Because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life. What a hell of a way to word “you’re being a jerk.” [laughter] Right? He doesn’t say you’re a jerk. He says people are perceiving you this way and he says the downside is it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish.
When I got to know Andy better, the beatings became more direct, but. [laughter] I could tell you Andy stories for a month, but the one I will tell you is that when it came time to start thinking about what to do about graduating from Brown, it had never occurred to me in a million years to go to graduate school. Just out of my imagination. It wasn’t the kind of thing people from my family did. We got, say, what do you call them? …. jobs. And Andy said, no, don’t go do that. Go get a Ph.D. Become a professor. And I said, why? And he said, because you’re such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education. [long pause, looks directly at Andy van Dam] Thanks.
Andy was my first boss, so to speak. I was lucky enough to have a lot of bosses. [shows slide of various bosses] That red circle is way off. Al is over here. [laughter] I don’t know what the hell happened there. He’s probably watching this on the webcast going, my god he’s targeting and he still can’t aim! [laughter] I don’t want to say much about the great bosses I’ve had except that they were great. And I know a lot of people in the world that have had bad bosses, and I haven’t had to endure that experience and I’m very grateful to all the people that I ever had to have worked for. They have just been incredible.
But it’s not just our bosses, we learn from our students. I think the best head fake of all time comes from Caitlin Kelleher. Excuse me, Doctor Caitlin Kelleher, who just finished up here and is starting at Washington University, and she looked at Alice when it was an easier way to learn to program, and she said, yeah, but why is that fun? I was like, ‘cause uh, I’m a compulsive male…I like to make the little toy soldiers move around by my command, and that’s fun. She’s like, hmm. And she was the one who said, no, we’ll just approach it all as a storytelling activity. And she’s done wonderful work showing that, particularly with middle school girls, if you present it as a storytelling activity, they’re perfectly willing to learn how to write computer software. So all-time best head fake award goes to Caitlin Kelleher’s dissertation.
President Cohen, when I told him I was going to do this talk, he said, please tell them about having fun, because that’s what I remember you for. And I said, I can do that, but it’s kind of like a fish talking about the importance of water. 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.
So my next piece of advice is, you just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or and Eeyore. [shows slide with an image of Tigger and Eeyore with the phrase “Decide if you’re Tigger or Eeyore”] I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. [laughter] Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Help others. Denny Proffitt knows more about helping other people. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know. He’s taught me by example how to run a group, how to care about people. M.K. Haley – I have a theory that people who come from large families are better people because they’ve just had to learn to get along. M.K. Haley comes from a family with 20 kids. [audience collectively “aaahs”] Yeah. Unbelievable. And she always says it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. When I first got to Imagineering, she was one of the people who dressed me down, and she said, I understand you’ve joined the Aladdin Project. What can you do? And I said, well I’m a tenured professor of computer science. And she said, well that’s very nice Professor Boy, but that’s not what I asked. I said what can you do? [laughter]
And you know I mentioned sort of my working class roots. We keep what is valuable to us, what we cherish. And I’ve kept my [high school] letterman’s jacket all these years. [Puts on letterman’s jacket] I used to like wearing it in grad school, and one of my friends, Jessica Hodgins would say, why do you wear this letterman’s jacket? And I looked around at all the non-athletic guys around me who were much smarter than me. And I said, because I can. [laughter] And so she thought that was a real hoot so one year she made for me this little Raggedy Randy doll. [takes out Raggedy Randy] [laughter] He’s got a little letterman’s jacket too. That’s my all-time favorite. It’s the perfect gift for the egomaniac in your life. So, I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way.
Loyalty is a two way street. There was a young man named Dennis Cosgrove at the University of Virginia, and when he was a young man, let’s just say things happened. And I found myself talking to a dean. No, not that dean. And anyway, this dean really had it in for Dennis, and I could never figure out why because Dennis was a fine fellow. But for some reason this Dean really had it in for him. And I ended up basically saying, no, I vouch for Dennis. And the guy says, you’re not even tenured yet and you’re telling me you’re going to vouch for this sophomore or junior or whatever? I think he was a junior at the time. I said, yeah, I’m going to vouch for him because I believe in him. And the dean said, and I’m going to remember this when your tenure case comes up. And I said, deal. I went back to talk to Dennis and I said, I would really appreciate you… that would be good. But loyalty is a two-way street. That was god knows how many years ago, but that’s the same Dennis Cosgrove who’s carrying Alice forward. He’s been with me all these years. And if we only had one person to send in a space probe to meet an alien species, I’m picking Dennis. [laughter] You
can’t give a talk at Carnegie Mellon without acknowledging one very special person. And that would be Sharon Burks. I joked with her, I said, well look, if you’re retiring, it’s just not worth living anymore. Sharon is so wonderful it’s beyond description, and for all of us who have been helped by her, it’s just indescribable. I love this picture because it puts here together with Syl, and Syl is great because Syl gave the best piece of advice pound-for-pound that I have ever heard. And I think all young ladies should hear this. Syl said, it took me a long time but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. It’s that simple. It’s that easy. And I thought back to my bachelor days and I said, damn. [laughter]
Never give up. I didn’t get into Brown University. I was on the wait list. I called them up and they eventually decided that it was getting really annoying to have me call everyday so they let me in. At Carnegie Mellon I didn’t get into graduate school. Andy had mentored me. He said, go to graduate school, you’re going to Carnegie Mellon. All my good students go to Carnegie Mellon. Yeah, you know what’s coming. And so he said, you’re going to go to Carnegie Mellon no problem. What he had kind of forgotten was that the difficulty of getting to the top Ph.D. program in the country had really gone up. And he also didn’t know I was going to tank my GRE’s because he believed in me. Which, based on my board scores was a really stupid idea. And so I didn’t get into Carnegie Mellon. No one knows this. ‘Til today I’m telling the story. I was declined admission to Carnegie Mellon. And I was a bit of an obnoxious little kid. I went into Andy’s office and I dropped the rejection letter on his desk. And I said, I just want you to know what your letter of recommendation goes for at Carnegie Mellon. [laughter] And before the letter had hit his desk, his hand was on the phone and he said, I will fix this. [laughter] And I said, no no no, I don’t want to do it that way. That’s not the way I was raised. [In a sad voice] Maybe some other graduate schools will see fit to admit me. [laughter] And he said, look, Carnegie Mellon’s where you’re going to be. He said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. Go visit the other schools. Because I did get into all the other schools. He said, go visit the other schools and if you really don’t feel comfortable at any of them, then will you let me call Nico? Nico being Nico Habermann [the head of Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Dept.] and I said, OK deal. I went to the other schools. Without naming them by name — [in a coughing voice] Berkeley, Cornell. They managed to be so unwelcoming that I found myself saying to Andy, you know, I’m going to get a job. And he said, no, you’re not. And he picked up the phone and he talked in Dutch. [laughter] And he hung up the phone and he said, Nico says if you’re serious, be in his office tomorrow morning at eight a.m. And for those of you who know Nico, this is really scary. So I’m in Nico Habermann’s office the next morning at eight a.m. and he’s talking with me, and frankly I don’t think he’s that keen on this meeting. I don’t think he’s that keen at all. And he says, Randy, why are we here? And I said, because Andy phoned you? Heh-heh. [laughter] And I said, well, since you admitted me, I have won a fellowship. The Office of Naval Research is a very prestigious fellowship. I’ve won this fellowship and that wasn’t in my file when I applied. And Nico said, a fellowship, money, we have plenty of money. That was back then. He said, we have plenty of money. Why do you think having a fellowship makes any difference to us? And he looked at me. There are moments that change your life. And ten years later if you know in retrospect it was one of those moments, you’re blessed. But to know it at the moment …. with Nico staring through your
soul. [laughter] And I said, I didn’t mean to imply anything about the money. It’s just that it was an honor. There were only 15 given nationwide. And I did think it was an honor that would be something that would be meritorious. And I apologize if that was presumptuous. And he smiled. And that was good.
So. How do you get people to help you? You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.
Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself. And I thought, how do I possibly make a concrete example of that? [Speaking to stage hand] Do we have a concrete example of focusing on somebody else over there? Could we bring it out? [Speaking to audience] See, yesterday was my wife’s birthday. If there was ever a time I might be entitled to have the focus on me, it might be the last lecture. But no, I feel very badly that my wife didn’t really get a proper birthday, and I thought it would be very nice if 500 people— [an oversized birthday cake is wheeled onto the stage] [applause] Happy—
…birthday to you [Randy: her name is Jai], happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Jai, happy birthday to you! [applause]
[Jai walks on stage, teary-eyed. She walks with Randy to the cake. Randy: You gotta blow it out. The audience goes quiet. Jai blows out the candle on the cake. Randy: All right. Massive applause.]
And now you all have an extra reason to come to the reception. [laughter] Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams. Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap. [Shows slide of Steve Seabolt next to a picture of The Sims] [laughter] What Steve didn’t tell you was the big sabbatical at EA, I had been there for 48 hours and they loved the ETC, we were the best, we were the favorites, and then somebody pulled me aside and said, oh, by the way, we’re about to give eight million dollars to USC to build a program just like yours. We’re hoping you can help them get it off the ground. [laughter] And then Steve came along and said, they said what? Oh god. And to quote a famous man, I will fix this. And he did. Steve has been an incredible partner. And we have a great relationship, personal and professional. And he has certainly been point man on getting a gaming asset to help teach millions of kids and that’s just incredible. But, you know, it certainly would have been reasonable for me to leave 48 hours after that sabbatical, but it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do, and when you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it.
Anybody can get chewed out. It’s the rare person who says, oh my god, you were right. As opposed to, no wait, the real reason is… We’ve all heard that. When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?
Don’t complain. Just work harder. [shows slide of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player] That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him.
Be good at something, it makes you valuable.
Work hard. I got tenure a year early as Steve mentioned. Junior faculty members used to say to me, wow, you got tenure early. What’s your secret? I said, it’s pretty simple. Call my any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you.
Find the best in everybody. One of the things that Jon Snoddy as I said told me, is that you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.
And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.
So today’s talk was about my childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and some lessons learned. But did you figure out the head fake? [dramatic pause] It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.
Have you figured out the second head fake? The talk’s not for you, it’s for my kids. Thank you all, good night.
[applause; standing ovation for 90 seconds; Randy brings Jai onto the stage and they take a bow; they sit down in their seats; standing ovation continues for another minute]
Thank you everyone. I’d like to thank all of you for coming. This really means a lot I know to Randy. He had this theory even up to yesterday that there wouldn’t be anyone in the room.
Randy Pausch [from seat]:
I know. I’m the other Randy. That’s been my role here for the past 10 years ever since Randy Pausch came here on the faculty. And what I mean by that is, I introduce myself. I’m Randy Bryant from Computer Science. They go, oh, Randy from CS. You’re the one that does all that cool stuff of building virtual worlds and teaching children how to program. And I go, no, no, sorry. That’s the other Randy. I’m the wrong one. Sorry, I’m just like a dull nerd. [laughter] So, but I’m very pleased today to be able to sort of run a brief series of ways in which we want to recognize Randy for his contributions he’s made to Carnegie Mellon, to computer science and to the world at large. So we have a few – it will be a brief program. We have a few people I’ll be bringing up one after the other. I’m sort of the MC here. So first I’d like to introduce who you’ve already met, Steve Seabolt from Electronic Arts. [applause]
My family wondered whether or not I would make it through the introduction. [voice starts to crack up] And I did that but I might not do so well now. So bear with me. As Randy mentioned, he and I, Carnegie Mellon and Electronic Arts share a particular passion about nurturing young girls and trying to encourage young girls to stay with math and stay with science. Every geek in the world shouldn’t be a guy. You know, it’s such a twist of fate that there’s so many people that are worried about off- shoring, and at the same time companies are forced to off-shore, there are fewer and fewer students entering computer science. And the number of women entering computer science just keeps dropping like a rock. There are way too few Caitlins in this world. And Caitlin, we need so many more of you. And with that in mind, Electronic Arts has endowed a scholarship fund. It’s the Randy Pausch endowed scholarship fund, established in 2007 by EA. In honor of Randy’s leadership and contribution to education, computer science, digital entertainment, and his commitment to women in technology. This scholarship will be awarded annually to a female undergraduate CMU student who demonstrates excellence in computer science and a passion in the pursuit of a career in video games. Randy, we’re so honored to do this in your name. [applause]
Next I’d like to introduce Jim Foley. He’s on the faculty at Georgia Tech and he’s here representing the ACM Special Interest Group in Computer Human Interaction. Jim. [applause]
[motions to Randy Pausch to come on stage; gives him a hug] That was for Jim. [applause] ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery is a group of about 100,000 computing professionals. One of their special areas of interest is computer human interaction. A few weeks ago, someone who’s a very good friend of Randy’s wrote a citation which was endorsed by a number of people and went to the executive committee of SIGCHI, which on behalf of the SIGCHI membership, has authorized this special presentation. The citation was written by Ben Schneiderman and worked on then by Jenny Preese and Ben Peterson, and endorsed by a whole bunch of your friends and now from the executive committee. So let me read to you the citation. Special award for professional contributions. Randy Pausch’s innovative work has spanned several disciplines and has inspired both mature researchers and a generation of students. His deep technical competence, choice of imaginative projects and visionary thinking are always combined with energy and passion. We’ve seen that. From his early work on the simple user interface toolkit to his current work on 3D Alice programming language, he has shown that innovative tool design enables broad participation in programming, especially by women and minorities. Randy Pausch has vigorous commitment to engaging students at every level by compelling and intellectually rigorous projects, and his appealing lecture style for a role-model for every teacher and lecture. Yes, yes yes. [voice starts to crack up] His work has helped make team project experiences and educational computing research more common and respected. As a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, a Lilly Teaching Foundation Teaching Fellow, co-founder of the CMU ET Center and consultant for Disney Imagineering and EA, Randy’s done pioneering work in combining computing interface design and emotionally rich experiences. For these and many other contributions, the ACM SIGCHI executive council is proud to present to Randy Pausch a special award for professional contributions. [applause] [Randy comes back on stage to receive award]
Thank you, Jim. Next I’d like to introduce Jerry Cohen, the President of Carnegie Mellon University. [applause]
Thank you other Randy. [Tries to move Randy Pausch’s bag of props to the side of the podium] You know you’re traveling heavy, buddy. Many of us have been thinking about and talking about how we can recognize you on this campus in a way that is lasting and fitting in terms of what you meant to this university. A lot of people are involved in this. You thought the provost wasn’t paying attention all those years. [laughter] Actually, one of the ways we’re going to remember you is this $50,000 bill for stuffed animals. $47,862.32 for pizza. You’ve made great contributions, Randy, we really appreciate it. [laughter] One thing we could not do, regrettably, is figure out a way to capture the kind of person that you are. You’re humanity, what you’ve meant to us as a colleague, as a teacher. As a student. And as a friend. There’s just no way to capture that. There is our memories, however. And there is a way to remember you every day, as people walk this campus. So we’ve come up with an idea. You’ve done great things for this campus and for computer science and for the world. Surely Alice will live on. But the one we’re going to focus on right now is what you’ve done to connect computer science with the arts. It was remarkable, it was stunning. It’s had enormous impact, and it will last, I daresay forever. So to recognize that, we are going to do the following. Good job, other Randy. [laughter, as Randy Bryant gets the projector to show the next slide] In order to effect this, we had to build a building. [Shows slide of mockup of Gates building] A hundred million dollar building which will allow us to do the following. You’ll note, by the way, to orient people. So the Purnell Center for the Arts is the home of the School of Drama. That modern looking new thing, half of which has a green roof, is the new Gates Center for Computer Science. And we had long planned to connect these two physically, both to allow people to get down from the cut to lower campus, and you have to admit it carries tremendous symbolic importance. Well
on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon and on behalf of the entire university, I’m pleased to announce today that the bridge connecting these two will be known as the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge. [shows slide of mockup of bridge] [applause] Now actually based on your talk today we’re thinking now about putting up a brick wall up at either end, and let students see what they can do with it. [laughter] Randy, there’ll be a generation of students and faculty to come here who will not know you, but they will cross that bridge, they will see your name, and they’ll ask those of us who did know you. And we will tell them that unfortunately they were not able to experience the man, but they are surely experiencing the impact of the man. Randy, thank you for all that you’ve done for Carnegie Mellon. We’re going to miss you. [applause] [Randy walks on stage and gives Jerry a hug]
So every good show needs a closing act, and so to do that I’ll invite Andy Van Dam. [applause]
Andy Van Dam:
Oh how I love having the last word. [applause] But to have to go on after that fabulous show, I don’t know whether that was good planning. Well I started in Brown in 1965 and it has been my pleasure and great joy not just to teach thousands of undergraduates and some graduates, but also to work one-on-one with a couple hundred of them. And over 35 have followed me into teaching I’m proud to say. Out of those best and brightest it was very clear that Randy would stand out. He showed great promise early on and a passion about our field and about helping others that you’ve seen amply demonstrated today. It was matched by fierce determination and by persistence in the face of all brick wall odds. And you’ve heard a lot about that and seen that demonstrated as he fights this terrible disease. Like the elephant’s child, however, he was filled with satiable curiosity, you remember that. And what happened to the elephant’s child, he got spanked by all of his relations, and you’ve heard some of that. He was brash, he had an irrepressible, raucous sense of humor, which led to the fantastic showmanship that you saw today. He was self-assured, occasionally to the point of outright cockiness. And stubborn as a mule. And I’m a Dutchman and I know from stubbornness. The kind way to say it is he had an exceedingly strong inner compass, and you’ve seen that demonstrated over and over again. Now, having been accused of many such traits myself, I rather thought of them as features, not bugs. [laughter] Having had to learn English the hard way, I was a fanatic about getting students to speak and write correct English from the get-go. And Randy the mouth had no problem with that. But he did have one problem. And I’m having a problem with my machine here, here we go. [gets slide to project on screen]. And that was another part of my fanaticism which dealt with having American students learn about foreign cultures. And specifically about food cultures, and more specifically yet, about Chinese food culture. So I would take my students to this wonderful Chinese restaurant where they cooked off the menu using a Chinese menu. And I tried to get Randy to sample this. But would Mr. White Bread touch that stuff? [laughter] Absolutely not. And worse, he refused to learn to eat with chopsticks. I was chairman at the time and I said, Randy, you know, I’m not going to let you graduate if you don’t learn to eat with chopsticks! [laughter] It’s a requirement, didn’t you see that? He of course didn’t believe that. And
so it came time for graduation and I handed him his diploma. And this was the picture one of my friends took. [Shows slide of Brown University commencement, 1982, Randy dressed in his cap and gown, opening his diploma, his mouth wide open in surprise] And what you see is Randy opening his diploma to show it to his parents, and there was an autographed copy of the menu in Chinese and no diploma. [laughter, applause] It was one of the few times I got the better of him, I have to confess. Well here we are today, all of us, and hundreds and hundreds of people all over the country, I dare say all over the world, participating in this great event to celebrate you and your life. Randy is the person, the Mensch, as we say in Yiddish. Your manifold accomplishments as a model academic, especially as a mentor to your students. Your Disneyland expeditions not only were unique but they are legendary. You have more than fulfilled the terms of Brown University Charter, which are: to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation. Your utter devotion to your family and your career are exemplary, and continue unabated as you cope with the immensity of your situation. You exemplify undaunted courage and grace under pressure. The most terrible pressure one can imagine. Randy, you have been and you will continue to be a role model for us. [Voice starts cracking up] Thank you so much for all you have done for us. And to allow us to tell you privately and in such a public way how much we admire, honor, and indeed love you. [applause]