(Photo courtesy of John Carroll University)
David LaGuardia, a professor of English, spoke on Wednesday, Dec. 2 to a Zoom audience of 300 guests as part of the Last Lecture series. This was especially fitting because LaGuardia plans to retire at the end of this semester. After spending 53 years at John Carroll, LaGuardia was greeted by students and faculty that he had impacted all throughout his teaching career, and they wished him a final congratulations.
“Congratulations, Dr. LaGuardia!” Ariel Johnson ’07 said. “You whipped me into shape during your Wallace Stevens seminar my senior year, and I’ll never forget it. I am a better writer because of you.”
Others chimed in with this same sentiment. Maureen Ginley ’14 stated, “[I] loved American lit and Hemingway courses with you, Dr. LaGuardia! I am also so grateful for your support of the English Club when Darcy and I headed it. Your Halloween reading of ‘The Raven’ is a great memory.”
The event was held over Zoom and 300 guests tuned in to hear LaGuardia’s parting words. LaGuardia stated that he was overwhelmed by the amount of people present and did not expect such a large turnout. He had reportedly sent out the link to his relatives “like a spider web,” but he was still shocked to see how many people came.
Humbled by the experience, LaGuardia said, “If this new last lecture begins a tradition, that would be great.”
LaGuardia thanked a myriad of people in his speech and said he was “fortunate to spend [my] final years as a professor in a first-rate department.”
During the lecture, LaGuardia reflected on many of his past experiences at the University, including the student body’s reactions to the Kent State shooting and 9/11. He followed these memories by saying, “Memory is fickle, but it is what we have.”
LaGuardia discussed how important nostalgia is, although he added that it can be “a difficult road for sentimental idiots like myself.”
While many wanted this event to be held in-person, LaGuardia summed up the situation best: “Zooming may be unkind and less personal, but it shrinks distances.”
The Last Lecture Zoom recording is available here.