Visiting Assistant Professor of Geology Bruce Rueger received the Charles Bassett Teaching Award May 16 from the Class of 2016.

Bruce Rueger at the 2016 Last Lecture

Bruce Rueger gives the 2016 Last Lecture


Since 1993 each senior class has voted to recognize a Colby faculty member with the award, named for the late professor of American studies and English who taught at Colby from 1969 to 2000 and who won it the inaugural year. Each year the winner gives the Last Lecture, an address to seniors following the last scheduled final exam before graduation.

Spirits were high as the popular geology professor took the stage and introduced his talk, “Rocks I Have Known.” Rueger laced his address with advice to the incipient graduates. Among 15 nuggets, he told them to “follow your songlines,” “find a passion,” “be part of a community,” “play with kids, they keep you young,” and “don’t be afraid.”

“If I was afraid, I’d be milking cows in Ashland Falls, Mass.,” said the man who was the first in his family to earn a college degree and who went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

He showed images of Earth from space, and he talked about his initial effort to get a master’s degree, which ended with him dropping out of the program. Persisting in his studies while working full time at Colby and raising a family, “It took me longer to get my Ph.D. after my master’s than it took for that satellite to get out past the solar system to take that picture!” he said. “It’s still going, and I am too.”

Video of Rueger’s talk was webcast on Colby’s Facebook page and comments from alums praised his teaching and his enthusiasm. “Amazing!” wrote an alum whose Facebook handle is Wally Roo. “So good to see that Bruce hasn’t changed. I’ll never forget my favorite Bruce quote from 1991: ‘So like, everybody thinks the dinosaurs are so lame because they went extinct! But they were here for 250 million years!’ I became a geology major, graduated in ’94 and have been a science teacher for 20 years. You were an inspiration Bruce … and clearly you still are.”