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Funny and Practical Advice from UCSB’s Assistant Dean of Students

Don Lubach Delivers ‘Last Lecture’ Series to Nearly 400-Person Crowd


“Don’t buy surfboards with your student loan money,” said Don Lubach, UCSB’s assistant dean of students.

Lubach’s statement was just one of many pieces of humorous advice he bestowed upon on a nearly 400-person crowd last Thursday night for the university’s second quarterly Last Lecture series. Spun off from the inspiring lecture delivered by late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, UCSB’s version asks student-nominated faculty and/or staff to give students guidance as if it were their last opportunity to do so.

Calling himself an “optimistic atheist” because he doesn’t “believe in a world in the afterlife of 24/7 harp music” — although he said he “can’t wait to be proven wrong” — Lubach advised students to focus on their current lives. “My philosophy of life is popularly called YOLO,” he said, referring to the acronym for “you only live once.” And he encouraged attendees to make the most of that mantra.

Handing out “Career Flower” worksheets inspired by author Richard N. Bolles (who wrote What Color Is Your Parachute?), Lubach asked students to consider a variety of factors when deciding how to live their lives. In between talking about those factors — geography, people, salary, values, areas of interest, and “motivated strengths” — Lubach let loose with the one-liners, declaring his love for librarians (“they’re pretty raucous”), clarifying his career in student affairs (“not having affairs with students”), and knocking his own optimism (according to a scientific study, “people who are optimistic may actually have a brain malfunction”).

Lubach was as genuine as he was jokey, though, showing a video montage of himself with his wife and daughters and telling a story of how his childhood experience as a unicycle paper-delivery boy taught him to “take the mundane and mess with it.”

“Kindle your interest,” he said. “Force yourself out of your comfort zone.”

At the end of his lecture, Lubach urged students to make the most of their lives as if they would one day be called upon to give a last lecture. If that happened, he asked, “What would you say?”

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