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Last Lecture Information and History

What really matters? What is life is all about? What's the point of all of this?

In 2015, University of the Pacific initiated a Last Lecture Series to take place at its Interfaith Baccalaureate Ceremony, held during Commencement weekend each year. The idea of a "last lecture" was made popular by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who gave a hugely popular last lecture to his university in 2007 upon hearing that he had 3 to 5 months left to live due to pancreatic cancer. (And he did, sadly, eventually die.) He asked himself, "What wisdom would I like to impart to the world, knowing that this is my last chance?"  

This series honors our Methodist heritage, which encourages a bringing together of "head and heart." Any faculty member in good standing, religious or non-religious, can be nominated. Nominations are welcomed from all students, faculty, and staff members. To nominate, go to  

For more information (and the fine print) on Last Lectures at Pacific, see here.    

Past Last Lecturers

James HetrickHetrick
Professor of Physics
University of the Pacific  

After finishing his Bachelor's degree in Physics from Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Hetrick spent 13 months at the South Pole Station in Antarctica where he studied cosmic rays, the solar wind, the auroras, and the earth's magnetosphere.   

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in theoretical particle physics and went on to postdoctoral research positions at ETH in Zürich, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Arizona, and Washington University in St. Louis, before coming to the University of the Pacific in 1997.   

At Pacific, Professor Hetrick teaches a variety of classes, including courses like "Cosmology" and "The Physics of Music". In addition to his teaching and administrative roles, he is an active researcher in the field of "lattice quantum chromo-dynamics". Using some of the largest computers in the world, Prof. Hetrick is exploring the forces between quarks, and models of what the Higgs boson might really be.   

Professor Hetrick's Last Lecture can be found here.  

Lynn Beck Brallier
Professor and former Dean of the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education
University of the Pacific  Brailler

Lynn Beck Brallier is a professor and former dean of the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education.  She retires from the University of the Pacific in January 2017 but will remain involved as an emerita faculty and through her work with outreach efforts and with graduate students completing research projects.  

Professor Beck Brallier, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, has served as a teacher and administrator in higher education for 30 years.  Among other things, she has taught within and helped to develop innovative masters and doctoral programs and has led in the development and implementation of varied outreach programs. Dr. Beck Brallier's areas of research include the ethic of care, the development of educational leaders, educational reform, and evidence based teaching in health care settings.  

Lynn Beck Brallier has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator of institutional, state, and federal grants.  She is the author of eight books and numerous chapters and articles and the recipient of awards recognizing her leadership and service.  

Professor Brallier's Last Lecture can be found here.