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Randy Pausch

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Randy Pausch died yesterday. His pages at CMU (such as his update page) have been hard to access because of the traffic, so let me summarize in case you still cannot get to them.

July 25th, 2008: Randy died this morning of complications from pancreatic cancer.

July 24th, 2008: The cancer is progressing. A biopsy last week revealed that the cancer has progresed further than we had thought from recent PETscans. Since last week, Randy has also taken a step down and is much sicker than he had been. He's now enrolled in hospice. He's no longer able to post here so I'm a friend posting on his behalf because we know that many folks are watching this space for updates.

I personally found the CMU article An Enduring Legacy the best single thing to read if you are not familiar with Randy's life. Let me extract one paragraph:

He is survived by his wife, Jai, and three children: Chloe, Dylan and Logan. The family requests that donations on his behalf be directed to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund, which the university will use primarily to support continued work on the Alice project.

Donating money is one way to show you care. In this case, "living life the Randy Pausch way" is also a pretty nice thing to do.

Over time, I know we will see some very fitting tributes to Randy from his professional colleagues. So far I have seen:

  • Whitney Hess, one of his students
  • David Armano, who has already folded one of Randy's stories into his user experience presentations

Last week, I submitted the first draft of an article to interactions about the Randy Pausch story. It was by far the hardest thing I had ever tried to write. I cannot tell yet if the next draft will be easier or harder.


Keith, there's no way to express in words the impact that Randy Pausch had on the Carnegie Mellon community, and now with his last lecture and book by the same name, he has made an everlasting impression on the world. I am thankful to have known him, to have learned from him, and most importantly, to have been impassioned by him. His fervor in the classroom was contagious. I caught the bug, and it changed my life because now I have a career that thrills me endlessly.

I look forward to reading your piece in interactions. Hope to see you soon.

I wrote a book, entitled "A Universe of Interactions", dedicated to my friend and former professor Randy Pausch. I'm sure he would like you to read it. I had been in email contact with him up until near the end; ironically, for years I kept from Randy my own dark secret: my mother died of cancer when I was only 8 and she was only 46. My book is dedicated with fondness to his memory and it is related to his field (certainly influenced by our time together). Randy and Don were strong figures in my formative years of undergraduate study at Carnegie Mellon University. You can find "A Universe of Interactions" at -- also, if you buy my children's book, proceeds go to help save the endangered Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus species.

ACM, one of the professional organizations I belong to, issued this statement last week.