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Mortar Board Senior Honor Society is pleased to present Professor Jefferson Cowie's "Last Lecture." Each semester, Mortar Board invites a distinguished faculty or staff member to address the Cornell community and present their hypothetical "last lecture." This semester, through his "last lecture," Professor Cowie offers his thoughts on the meaning and purpose of higher education in an age of rising inequality.

Jefferson Cowie, a professor of history in the ILR School, has received a number of awards for his teaching and scholarship. He just completed a four year term as House Professor and Dean at William Keeton House, where he lived with his family and three hundred undergraduates. His most recent book, Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, was awarded the Francis Parkman Prize for the best book in American history. In addition to his scholarship, his essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, Dissent, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other popular outlets.