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Tom Garrison’s Final Lecture on YouTube
Friday, December 16, 2011

Tom Garrison's final lecture

See the video of Tom Garrison’s final lecture on YouTube.

Visit OCC's YouTube Page.

The direct links are:

Part 1 =

Part 2 =

Part 3 =


On Monday, Tom Garrison, Ph.D., professor of marine sciences, gave his final large-group lecture to 400 students enrolled in Oceanography (Marine Science A100) to end a teaching career that spanned 43 years at OCC.

Tom Garrison“I feel like my favorite character in Shakespeare, Prospero in ‘The Tempest,'” Garrison said. Prospero used his power for good, never for evil, and “everything turns out fine. Like Prospero, I put down my pen and I will see you for the final in two days.” As he concluded the presentation, the Robert B. Moore Theatre audience responded with a standing ovation.

Garrison officially retired last year, but continued to teach the popular Oceanography class this fall. His final classroom lecture attracted former students and faculty, staff and administrators.

Brian Alters, Ph.D., a global leader in evolution education, took a marine science class with Garrison in 1975. “It changed my life,” Alters said. “He is still my mentor for teaching.” Garrison was the first educator “to really introduce me to evolution” and help him understand it.

After graduating from USC with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in science education, Alters taught at Harvard University and McGill University in Canada. He is currently founder and director of Chapman University’s Evolution Education Research Center.

Brad Avery, director of OCC’s Sailing Center, took Garrison’s large group oceanography class in 1975. It met in the Science Hall, which seats 400 students. “You could hear a pin drop,” Avery recalled. “It was incredible to me. He held the room…just ran it.” Garrison engaged students, he added. “It was unlike any class I’ve ever taken.”

Although he is giving up regular classroom assignments, Garrison will continue to maintain an office on campus. “Thank goodness I’ll still have a domestic base of academic operations!” he exclaimed. “I will be able to continue to pester students and bug colleagues whenever I’m in this part of the world.”

Garrison plans to spend a lot of time at Hong Kong University, where he will work with the university’s marine science teaching assistants and staff including lecturing and “holding forth on how we do things at OCC.” He also hopes to create a student/faculty exchange with Hong Kong that might begin this summer.

The professor’s prowess in front of a classroom has earned him numerous awards including OCC’s first-ever Distinguished Professor and the Outstanding U.S. Marine Educator from the National Marine Technology Society. In 2010 he received the Pacific Regional Faculty Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. In 1997 he was named OCC Faculty Member of the Year.

Garrison is the author of “Oceanography,” presently the world’s most-used text in oceanography. The textbook, in its 7th edition, has been studied by 200,000 students throughout the world. The author is working on a new edition in conjunction with The National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., and he will have have access the organization’s entire collection.

The textbook is available in English, Korean and Portuguese, and soon will be coming out in Spanish and French. Garrison is also working on a translation in Mandarin.

Garrison completed his doctorate at University of Southern California. He earned a Master’s degree at California State University in San Diego, and a B.S. degree from the University of Utah.

Garrison lives in Newport Beach with his wife, Marsha. They have a daughter and son and two granddaughters.