In 1955, UCLA featured six lectures from notable figures across campus. Sponsored by the University Religious Center, these lectures lasted from early October to late December, featuring distinguished UCLA figures such as philosophy professor Abraham Kaplan, chemistry professor Kenneth Trueblood and renowned coach John Wooden.
What followed were six insightful lectures from six very different perspectives, each lecturer expressing their own life philosophy through their interests, discipline and personal experiences. This event, a rare circumstance where professors were able to engage their students in the most puzzling conundrum, life, was called The My Last Lecture Series.
Great minds have struggles, triumphs and breakthroughs in their respective studies, and also in their own lives. Sharing those experiences and imparting the knowledge they have gathered throughout their lives does more than give comfort and advice to students. It further enriches the intellectual discourse and adds depth to the relationship between teacher and student.
In 2010, the Alumni Scholars Club revived the tradition and began the My Last Lecture Award. Through an online nomination process, the student body selects an inspiring professor to give a lecture that will answer the question posed to the original lecturers 50 years ago: What would you tell your audience if you had but one lecture to give – your last lecture on this earth?