The Last Lecture

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Professor Andy Van Dam Character Analysis

Randy’s “Dutch Uncle” at Brown University who becomes one of Randy’s mentors and has a deep impact on Randy’s life—he makes Randy more self aware, leads him to believe in the idea of “feedback loops,” helps Randy get into graduate school, and continues to be a source of wisdom throughout Randy’s life.

Professor Andy Van Dam Quotes in The Last Lecture

The The Last Lecture quotes below are all either spoken by Professor Andy Van Dam or refer to Professor Andy Van Dam. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Hyperion edition of The Last Lecture published in 2008.
Chapter 14 Quotes

…I had strengths that also were flaws. In Andy’s view, I was self-possessed to a fault, I was way too brash and I was an inflexible contrarian, always spouting opinions. One day, Andy took me for a walk. He put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as being so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you’re going to be able to accomplish in life.”

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Professor Andy Van Dam
Page Number: 67-68
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs after Randy tells a funny story about mouthing off at the bus stop as a kid, which caused his sister Tammy to throw his lunch box in the mud. As a college student, Randy wasn’t any less mouthy or arrogant, and though these traits served him well in many of his classes, they would often alienate other students.

Andy van Dam, in imparting the advice in this quote, does two things that Randy grows to appreciate through the rest of his life. First, the manner in which he gives Randy criticism opens Randy up to taking in the feedback and changing his behavior. Rather than telling Randy that he’s an arrogant jerk and he needs to change his attitude, Andy tells Randy that “it’s such a shame” that he is the way he is “because it’s going to limit” what he’s able to accomplish. So, instead of being told what to do, Randy hears the criticism and decides he must make a change on his own. Second, because of how powerful this experience is for Randy, it makes him a deep believer in the idea of receiving feedback. Randy becomes dedicated to creating feedback loops in his life so that he is always able to both examine his own behaviors and receive feedback from others to help him improve.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Last Lecture quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire The Last Lecture LitChart as a printable PDF.
The last lecture.pdf.medium

Professor Andy Van Dam Character Timeline in The Last Lecture

The timeline below shows where the character Professor Andy Van Dam appears in The Last Lecture. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14: The Dutch Uncle
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...didn’t notice how he came across to others, until, one day, Randy’s mentor and teacher, Professor Andy van Dam , took Randy for a walk and told him “Randy, it’s such a shame that... (full context)
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
Looking back, Randy notes that Andy van Dam ’s wording was perfect—he was basically telling Randy he was a jerk, but he said... (full context)
Chapter 24: A Recovering Jerk
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...the semester, the student keeps himself in check. Randy did him a favor, just as Andy Van Dam did Randy one many years earlier. (full context)
Chapter 26: They Just Blew Me Away
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...far exceeding his expectations. Randy wasn’t sure what to do, so he called his mentor Andy Van Dam , explained the situation, and Andy advised Randy to go back to class the next... (full context)
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
Randy was unsure, but he followed Andy Van Dam ’s advice anyway, and it turned out to be exactly the right thing to do—the... (full context)
Chapter 44: Show Gratitude
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Entitlement vs. Earning Theme Icon
...with people he cared about. Not everyone is so easily thanked, though, like Randy’s mentor Andy Van Dam —nothing Randy can do will adequately pay him back. So, Randy says, he just has... (full context)
Chapter 46: All You Have Is What You Bring With You
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...until Norm took a spare bulb out of his backpack and installed it. Randy’s Professor, Andy Van Dam , leaned over and told Randy “This guy is going places,” which turned out to... (full context)
Chapter 53: Never Give Up
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
...Randy graduated from college, it never occurred to him to go to graduate school until Andy Van Dam , Randy’s mentor, told him to get a PhD and become a professor. Randy asks... (full context)
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Entitlement vs. Earning Theme Icon
Randy tells Andy Van Dam he’s decided to skip grad school and get a job, but Andy refuses to let... (full context)