Don Livingston to deliver first ‘Last Lecture’ Friday, Oct. 3, for Homecoming

Don Livingston

Don Livingston

Don Livingston will share wisdom and insights from his life and experiences teaching political science for nearly 30 years at Western Carolina University when he delivers the inaugural address for the new Last Lecture Series at WCU.

Livingston’s 50-minute talk, titled “Political Wisdom Applied to a Layperson’s Life,” will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center as part of Homecoming festivities. The speech and reception afterward are free and open to the public.

The WCU Committee on Student Learning created the Last Lecture Series to honor faculty members who inspire students with passion and enthusiasm in their teaching. Students select the honorees, who then prepare and deliver a “last lecture” – the words they would share if it was the last lecture they were ever going to give.

The series at WCU was inspired by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor who was terminally ill when he gave a lecture titled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” as part of a similar lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University, said Glenn Bowen, chair of the Committee on Student Learning. The name of the book co-authored by Pausch, who died of pancreatic cancer on July 25, and Jeffrey Zaslow is titled “The Last Lecture.”

“Pausch’s one-of-a-kind lecture moved an overflow crowd at that university and went on to move audiences around the world,” said Bowen. “Dr. Livingston will similarly give a brilliant, engaging lecture, providing political wisdom to inspire thought and action.”

Provost Kyle Carter said he really likes the concept of the Last Lecture.

“Too often, we speak to students without considering the value or importance of our words,” said Carter. “The Last Lecture forces all who deliver it to carefully weigh the importance of their comments in the context of a last opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their students. It is a tremendous challenge, but I am sure Professor Livingston will rise to the occasion.”

Livingston said he is particularly moved, honored and grateful to be selected by students to speak at the Last Lecture Series.

“It means the world to me,” said Livingston, who is reading Pausch’s book as he prepares his lecture.

“One of the points I want to make is how important relationships are in politics and in life,” he said. “People matter. People count. Politics is a people profession. You deal with people’s interests, concerns, hopes and dreams. Relationships do, indeed, matter. Wherever we end up in our careers, we didn’t get there by ourselves.”

Livingston’s past honors include the Paul A. Reid Service Award for faculty and the student award “The Faculty Member Who Best Exemplifies What it Means to be a Professor.’”

For further information, contact Laura Cruz, coordinator of the Last Lecture Series, at or (828) 227-3909.