A Shippensburg University professor continued the Last Lecture Series by giving a lecture as if it were his last on April 18 in the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center.
Tom Evitts has been a professor of mathematics at SU for 18 years, and plans to soon retire. Evitts began his lecture by explaining he was getting rid of the word “lecture,” because he is a student-centered professor. Evitts also did not like the word “last” because he said the notion of last is not powerful.
Then, Evitts engaged the audience by quizzing them on famous last words. Evitts also replaced the title of the last lecture with “intermezzo.”
Intermezzo is a short instrumental piece connecting two musical movements to move the story along, Evitts said. Evitts shared numerous other definitions of intermezzo such as a food to clear your palate and a move in chess.
He asked the audience for examples of an intermezzo in life. Some examples were the transition from high school to college, sabbatical and changing majors. Then, Evitts asked what intermezzo means in our lives, and said it allows for questions such as “what’s next?” or “now what?” to be asked.
“My interpretation of intermezzo is something’s still going on,” Evitts said.
Evitts shared a photograph of himself on his last day of student-teaching, as well as his own experience with feelings of intermezzo. Evitts said he had no clue, no job and was in between two important phases of life. Often, he said, people put the wrong words on experiences.
“With time and perspective, you start to realize that maybe that wasn’t the worst time, maybe some good things happened during that time that I didn’t realize,” Evitts said.
Evitts emphasized the importance of prior knowledge, which means to learn something new you need to know something about it already. He said he enjoys various types of music, but he never listened to opera.
When Evitts finally listened to opera, he realized that he knew the songs from other concerts and cartoons. He said knowing the stories behind operas is what is important and makes them enjoyable.
To close the lecture, Evitts played an intermezzo on the organ from an opera called “Cavalleria Rusticana.”