The teaching stories are the best. I will give you a couple of the other tales and wisdom, told with gratitude, that give a flavor of his tone.
When I was here studying to get my Ph.D. and I was taking something called the theory qualifier, which I can definitively say is the second worst thing in my life after chemotherapy. [laughter] And I was complaining to my mother about how hard this test was and how awful it was, and she just leaned over and she patted me on the arm and she said, we know how you feel honey, and remember when your father was your age he was fighting the Germans. [laugher] After I got my Ph.D., my mother took great relish in introducing me as, this is my son, he’s a doctor but not the kind that helps people.
Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me, wow, you got tenure early. What’s your secret? I said, it’s pretty simple. Call my any Friday night in my office at ten o’clock and I’ll tell you.
Show gratitude. When I got tenure I took all of my research team down to Disneyworld for a week. And one of the other professors at Virginia said, how can you do that? I said these people just busted their ass and got me the best job in the world for life. How could I not do that?
A book of the lecture has been made to benefit the pancreatic cancer research foundation. The full transcript of the lecture is here.