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Lyon College Mortar Board sponsors first of “Last Lecture” series

Recently, Lyon College’s chapter of the senior honor society Mortar Board announced it will start an annual “Last Lecture” series. For the series, Mortar Board invites a faculty member to give their hypothetical last lecture.

Associate Professor of History Dr. Mark Wallace was the first faculty member to participate in the series. On Tuesday, December 5, he gave his last lecture, “Life After Death: The Restorative Power of Teaching."

Wallace gave an “autobiographical” lecture about his teaching career. Growing up, he said he “took [his] teachers for granted” and decided he never wanted to teach. However, after completing a master’s and Ph.D., he found himself teaching.

“I never felt completely prepared for teaching, and there were times I thought I compromised and settled for something,” said Wallace. “In doing so, I diminished a great gift bestowed upon me.”

Wallace would better understand this “gift” at Lyon after he and his wife suffered a death in their family. Receiving an email from a concerned student made him realize his “greatest asset in the teaching profession” was his students.

“The tragic loss of our baby girl was incredibly painful, but I am convinced that it helped me to more clearly see through tortured eyes why God had wanted me to be a teacher,” said Wallace. “I suppose my route [to teaching] is different than everyone else’s, but I feel blessed that I am a teacher. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

According to several Mortar Board members, the series’ purpose is to give faculty a chance to discuss topics outside of their areas of study.

“I first heard of ‘Last Lecture’ this past summer at Mortar Board’s national conference,” said Mortar Board president Natalie Milligan, ‘19. “I thought it would be great for our campus. I discussed it with the chapter, and everyone was on board. For us, the event is a way to show our appreciation for our faculty. They all work extremely hard to make sure we have the best experience and learn as much as possible throughout our time at Lyon.”

“[Mortar Board] wanted to provide an opportunity for the Lyon community to hear from a faculty member about something a bit different from what they talk about everyday in the classes,” said Mortar Board’s faculty advisor Dr. Irosha Nawarathne.

Nawarathne said some professors to expect in the future include Dr. Kurt Grafton, Dr. Fonzie Geary, and Dr. Tharanga Wijetunge.