DeSpain prepares for ‘last lecture’

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

Baker University is awaiting another retiring staff member’s last lecture.

Minister to the University Ira DeSpain will deliver his lecture, “The Golden Mean,” on March 26.


‘This I Believe’ selected as common book for fall 2014

The string of last lecture speeches derives from the 2013-14 school year’s common reading book, “The Last Lecture.” The book’s theme revolves around the idea that if there was only one last lecture a person could give, what advice would he or she have?

Since DeSpain’s faith has been such an important part of his life, it only made sense that this value be included in his university address.

“My lecture is going to be based, in part, on my faith,” DeSpain said. “That’s who I am and where I come from. I can’t not talk about it.”

DeSpain’s lecture will focus on the importance of finding a happy medium in life. He found inspiration for his lecture from a variety of different people, including a former North Carolina basketball coach, but also from his children.

“They are really an inspiration to me,” DeSpain said.

While his children have been an inspiration to DeSpain, he has been an influential factor in students’ lives as well.

One student who feels this way is junior Jacob Mogle. He has known DeSpain throughout his time at Baker and has shining things to say about him.

“He has been one of the most prominent influences on my faith and my understanding of religion,” Mogle said.

The Student Activities Council member in charge of putting on the event, freshman Jami Sanborn, highly recommends that students attend.

“I’m sure that it will be an insightful experience, and it will be interesting to see what kind of life lessons and experiences he will introduce,” Sanborn said.

DeSpain calls the experience truly humbling and honoring and would recommend that even if students never get the opportunity to give a last lecture, they should take the time to consider what they would say.

“I really hope everybody gets the chance to give a last lecture,” DeSpain said. “I would really hope that everyone would just take a moment to think about what is ultimately important to them.”

DeSpain has served as the university minister since January 1992, and both he and his parents are Baker alumni. He is retiring in June after deciding that he would like to spend more time with his family and doing the things he enjoys.

“We have some travel plans,” DeSpain said. “I like to fish and I like baseball, so I’ll be doing fine.”

Although he is retiring and leaving Baker after this year, DeSpain has lifelong relationships that have formed through his experience as the university minister.

“Ira has been such an important part of my Baker experience,” Mogle said. “So I do always hope to keep him as mentor, adviser and friend.”

Students can hear DeSpain’s last lecture at 9 p.m. on March 26 in Rice Auditorium.