With a subject “Mama Called,” University of Alabama Journalism Professor Chris Roberts certainly did not disappoint as he took a walk down memory lane and delivered a superb “Last Lecture” to a crowd of several hundred gathered Wednesday night in Russell Hall.
It is easy to see why this Jacksonville, Ala. native is so admired by the thousands of students who’ve taken his large-lecture introductory course in mass communication or his classes in journalism ethics, for which he’s literally written the book.
Tonight’s lecture was engaging, laced with important nuggets about life and full of anecdotes that reflect the rich experiences of one who has received two degrees from University of Alabama and spent more than two decades in the newspaper business.
Book-ended with references to important men named “Randy,” Roberts’ address reminded those who attended why journalism is important, but also why you can be a journalist and devoted husband and father at the same time.
The concept of the “last lecture” started with the late Randy Pausch, a computer science professor who, in 2007, gave a 76-minute lecture shortly after receiving news he had pancreatic cancer and had only months to live.
While Roberts never knew Pausch, he did know another man named “Randy,” the late Birmingham News assistant managing editor Randy Henderson, with whom Roberts worked during his 13-year stint at what was then the state’s largest newspaper.
Roberts described Henderson’s death from cancer in 2006 as the “biggest lost of his life.”
He recalled Henderson’s description of people who were just room temperature. Roberts ended with a question challenging all in attendance:
“When you return to the University of Alabama in 30 years what are people going to remember about you?”
That provocative question was just one of many included under his “TOP TEN Lessons Learned by Leaving Alabama and Coming Home Again.”
TOP TEN Lessons Learned by Leaving Alabama and Coming Home Again:
10. If you’re not having fun, you’re either trying too hard or not hard enough.
9. Be careful with your life’s soundtrack.
8. It takes a dirty mind to have a clean (news)paper.
7. Don’t be David Lee Roth Be Morris Day instead.
6. Question Authority.
5. Don’t Confuse Loyalty with Higher Ethical Values.
4. You’ve never Know You’ll Get There Till You’re Going.
3. Marriage is Never Easy, but it Should Not Be Difficult.
2. You’ll be Just like the People Around You– Unless You Do Something About it
1. What’s Left When you are Room Temperature?