Saint Martin’s faculty member Fr. David Pratt selected to present ‘Last Lecture’

March 20, 2013

Lacey, Washington – Fr. David Pratt, assistant professor of philosophy at Saint Martin’s University, has been selected by Saint Martin’s students to deliver the University’s fourth annual “Last Lecture.”

Pratt, who joined the Saint Martin’s faculty in 2008, will present “The End of Lecturing” at 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 26, in Harned Hall 110, located on the University’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE. The event and a reception to immediately follow are free and open to the public.

The Last Lecture talk, which is sponsored by the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU), centers on the question, “If this was your last lecture before a group of students, what would you say?”

“It gives us a chance to speak in an ultimate way – as if it were the only thing, and the last thing, that ever needs to be said,” explains Pratt of the concept behind the Last Lecture.

Saint Martin’s and other universities throughout the United States were inspired to begin hosting a Last Lecture series following a widely popularized talk presented in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch. He was a beloved faculty member, researcher and mentor who had been diagnosed at a young age with terminal cancer. Pausch’s students and colleagues believed he had one last lesson to give, which he delivered in a lecture entitled, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”.

Pratt will speak on “The End of Lecturing,” a title he says he intended to be playful, adding, “It will unfold into the more serious matters of compassion, and learning and reaching our destiny in life.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing what Fr. Pratt is going to reflect upon, drawing from the ideas of the great philosophers, as well as his rich life experiences as an Eastern Orthodox priest, his relief work in Africa, his years as a chaplain in the Navy and Marine Corp, and now, his work as a professor of philosophy,” says Katya Shkurkin, Ph.D., professor and director of the Social Work and Community Service programs, and this year’s faculty advisor to the student Last Lecture committee. Shkurkin was also the inaugural Last Lecture speaker at Saint Martin’s in 2010.

“It is an honor to be chosen, and each speaker has taken a slightly different road to express what they value and have found important in their lives,” Shkurkin says.

Pratt attended the University of California and the Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley, Calif., where he earned graduate and undergraduate degrees in philosophy and theology. He holds a divinity degree from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in New York.

Pratt did doctoral studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, where he specialized in ethics and was the recipient of the Flemish Government Academic Fellowship Award for 2007. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology, and the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion.

Pratt’s recent publications include articles and book chapters on moral responsibility, reconciliation and just war theory. He has served in the Orthodox Church in America for more than 20 years, and holds the rank of Archpriest. He is currently writing two books, one on the moral psychology of Martha Nussbaum, the renowned American social philosopher. The other book, Dostoevsky Philosopher, is a study of Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian novelist, short story writer and essayist, as a metaphysical ethical thinker.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Katya Shkurkin, Ph.D.
Professor
Director of social work and community service programs
360-438-4385; kshkurkin@stmartin.edu

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager
360-412-6126; MDwyer@stmartin.edu