Northland College students have chosen Angela Stroud, assistant professor of sociology and social justice, to provide the last lecture of the school year and the last lecture seniors will hear before graduation.
Sponsored by the Northland College Student Association in cooperation with the College’s commencement committee, Stroud will present “Learning and Liberation: The Power of a Sociological Imagination” Friday, May 23 at 4 p.m. at the Alvord Theatre — the afternoon before commencement. The public is invited.
The “last lecture” tradition at Northland College began in 2006 with the leadership of Adam Yates, the NCSA president at that time, said campus minister and historian David Saetre.
“Yates was familiar with other colleges that held these annual events where a faculty member is asked to deliver a ‘last lecture’ to the college or to the graduating class,” Saetre said.
The tradition at other campuses, according to Saetre, dates back to 1955 and in 2007 Professor Randy Pausch delivered the most famous last lecture at Carnegie Mellen University.
“His lecture became a best-selling book and YouTube sensation because of the passion and humility Pausch expressed in what was, indeed, his last lecture,” Saetre said. “Pausch was afflicted with cancer and would soon take leave of his chair at that university.”
Northland College’s last lecture follows the same idea: a favorite professor is asked to deliver a lecture that would provide a summary of their own life philosophy, discerned through a lifetime of scholarship and experience, as if it was the last lecture they would ever deliver, and/or as if it was the last lecture students will ever hear at Northland College.
Stroud, who joined the Northland College faculty in 2012, said, “Given that one of the goals of the last lecture is to inspire students, I feel up for the task, because that is how I approach every class I teach,” she said. “Learning is so important, and I try to convey that to students every chance that I get.”