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The plaque honoring Jeffrey L. Zaslow (DC'80) was revealed at a private ceremony during Spring Carnival. It fittingly faces a plaque for Randy Pausch on “The Pausch Bridge,” which connects one of the university’s fine arts buildings, Purnell Center, with the Gates & Hillman Centers, the home for computer science at Carnegie Mellon.

April 2013

Scholarship, Plaque Honor Jeffrey L. Zaslow (DC’80)

To honor the memory of Jeffrey L. Zaslow (DC’80) – a best-selling author and longtime Wall Street Journal columnist, Carnegie Mellon University unveiled a new plaque and announced a scholarship program in his name.

Zaslow, who majored in creative writing within the Dietrich College’s Department of English, may be best remembered at Carnegie Mellon for co-authoring "The Last Lecture" with the late CMU Computer Science Professor Randy Pausch. The plaque, revealed at a private ceremony during Spring Carnival, fittingly faces a plaque for Pausch on “The Pausch Bridge,” which connects one of the university’s fine arts buildings, Purnell Center, with the Gates & Hillman Centers, the home for computer science at Carnegie Mellon.

The plaque reads, “In Loving Memory of Jeffrey L. Zaslow, Dietrich College, Class of 1980. Creative Writing Alumnus, Journalist, Author, and Co-Author of ‘The Last Lecture” (2008) with Professor Randy Pausch, School of Computer Science, Class of 1988. October 6, 1958 – February 10, 2012. Made Possible Through the Generosity of the Many Friends and Admirers of Jeff Zaslow.”

“We want future generations of students to know how special he [Zaslow] was,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon during the ceremony.

President Cohon also announced the “Jeffrey L. Zaslow Scholarship for Writing Students,” made possible by gifts from several of Zaslow’s friends and admirers.

“This endowed scholarship will support future writers of the world, year after year, and will create a lasting legacy of Jeff’s impact on Carnegie Mellon students,” Cohon said.

In addition to “The Last Lecture,” Zaslow authored "Highest Duty," a book about airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who safely landed a jetliner in the Hudson River in New York City after birds damaged the jet's engines. He also was a contributor to "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," which chronicles the recovery of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords after she was tragically shot at a political gathering in Tucson, Ariz. His most recent book, "The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters," was published in December 2011.

Zaslow was dedicated to CMU and its students. He became an annual speaker during CMU's freshman orientation activities, speaking about his days writing the book with Pausch, the lessons he learned from the experience and his student days at CMU. He also frequently visited classes to speak with students. In 2009, he received a Distinguished Service Award from the Alumni Association.

Zaslow’s wife, Sherry Margolis, two of his daughters and several friends, classmates and former professors, attended the ceremony. Current student Todd Medema (TPR’14) spoke about how he read “The Last Lecture” as a sophomore in high school and that is how he became interested in Carnegie Mellon.

“I learned about the summer program for high school students, and, in the spirit of ‘The Last Lecture,’ I raised the $5,000 to attend the program,” said Medema. “Then, during my freshman orientation, I met Jeff Zaslow and told him how much his words meant and inspired me.”

Additional speakers included Dietrich College Dean John Lehoczky who said, “We are here today because Jeff Zaslow left an imprint.”

Gerald Costanzo, professor of English who has been teaching for 43 years, called Zaslow’s work in his Survey of Forms: Poetry class “legendary.”

“Jeff didn’t set out to be a poet, but he was fascinated by it, and he was always up for a challenge,” Constanzo said. “By far, he was my best student.”

Fred Siegel (DC’79), Zaslow’s college roommate and friend, and Anne Witchner, assistant dean of student affairs, also shared stories.

For more information on Jeffrey L. Zaslow, visit

Stay connected with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

Other sources of Carnegie Mellon news include the university news service website and the Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.

Contact Shilo Rea, Director of Public Relations at or (412) 268-6094.


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