Professor gives entertaining, personal last lecture

When a student asked Dave Hansen if he would be interested in presenting a “Last Lecture,” his answer was a simple, “no, not really.”

This was in 1998, and was the second time in Hansen’s six decade career at Linfield, where he served as an economics professor and Wildcat athletics broadcast announcer, that he had been asked this question. He eventually caved and agreed to give the lecture, essentially a reprise of his first “Last Lecture,” given in 1978.

The “Last Lecture” series was created in 1978 as a way to give professors and faculty the chance to give a lecture on any topic they choose. The idea was picked up again five years ago by the Office of Alumnae Relations, run by Debbie Harmon, the director of alumni and parent relations, and Hansen’s daughter.

T.J. Day 222 was packed with students and colleagues from each decade of Hansen’s career here at Linfield when he took the podium, a set of large flashcards sitting on a music stand to his right.

“This is not, as I perceive it, a lecture at all,” Hansen said, loosening his tie and undoing his collar button as the first flashcard read: THIS IS NOT MY FIRST TIME. “I don’t think I’m going to impart any knowledge, you won’t get much of an education from this, and I plan to stay away from anything remotely inspirational.”

Hansen explained that his first two “Last Lectures” had been quite personal, focusing on the knowledge and life lessons he would like to leave his two daughters. He approached this lecture as he believed a famous singer would approach their last concert, sharing some of their greatest hits.

“But as I reviewed my record, I realized I don’t have any greatest hits,” Hansen joked. “So I decided to share some of my favorite stories.”

“I tried my best to remember what I really remembered [and] what I think I remembered that may not in fact be really true,” Hansen explained of the title choice “Twice-Told Stories—Most of Them True,” in the clear voice that won him so many fans as the radio announcer for Linfield sports games.

As Hansen continued his lecture, the flashcards changed to introduce new stories from his career.

DENNIS, another flashcard, told the story of a student who could predict the outcome of sports games and became a school icon for folding up his chair and leaving when there would be a clear Linfield victory.

LINFIELD BASEBALL 1971, his next flashcard, was about the National Championship Series when Hansen and three others drove to Phoenix to see the team play, and then beat the team back to Portland to meet them at the airport.

As Hansen concluded his lecture, President Tom Hellie went to the podium to express his gratitude to the man who had devoted his teaching career to Linfield College, a career lasting from January 1969 to December 2012.

President Hellie also announced a new position in the process of fundraising, the Dave Hansen Chair of Economics.

The new chair currently has $1.85 million in funding, with the goal at $2 million. An anonymous donor contributed $1.3 million over the summer, proposing that Dave Hansen’s name be attached to the position.

“So although Dave Hansen won’t be teaching at Linfield anymore,” Hellie said, “we will always have a Dave Hansen professor of economics.”

Olivia Marovich

News editor

Olivia Marovich can be reached at