Students from the class of 2018 gathered in McCorkle Place to see UNC Physics and Astronomy Professor Dan Reichart’s “Last Lecture.” The national tradition to deliver a final address to the senior class began in 2007 when Dr. Randy Pausch gave a final lecture at Carnegie Mellon after learning his pancreatic cancer was terminal.
Reichart assured the shivering seniors watching Thursday night’s “Last Lecture” was far from his last — he estimates he still has about 2,000 lectures to go before that happens, barring any more encounters with explosive devices.
Last semester, Reichart sustained second-degree burns when he attempted to put out the fire that threatened to burn the historic Davie Poplar. After being treated at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care, he continues to make a full recovery.
He kept his gloves on, though — not because of any burn scars, but because he’d stumbled into a bad case of poison ivy. Reichart didn’t want students seeing the rash and thinking that his hands were disfigured from the fire.
“It’s been a very humbling year,” he said to start the lecture, just yards away from the Davie Poplar. “And not in the negative way one might expect from someone who just got their ass blown up.”