Washington University joins national network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers academic courses to learners 50 and over, has become the newest member of the national network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, thanks to funding from the Bernard Osher Foundation.

A Lifelong Learning Institute class on the West Campus.
A Lifelong Learning Institute class on the West Campus. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University)

The program will now be known as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Washington University (OLLI). With the addition of Washington University’s program, the Osher Foundation now supports 123 such institutes on university and college campuses across the country, with at least one grantee in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sponsored by University College in Arts & Sciences, Washington University’s institute offers a wide variety of noncredit courses that emphasize peer learning and active class participation by senior adults. Since its founding in 1995, the program has served some 2,000 students from across the region and has offered hundreds of classes.

Courses are offered in art and architecture, contemporary issues, creative writing, economics, film studies, history, literature, math, science, technology, music and philosophy.

Knowledgeable members plan, develop and present the courses and related field trips, workshops and cultural and social events. The new funding will provide additional opportunities to further develop the program.

“The grant from the Osher Foundation is a major contribution to the fundamental mission of University College, which is to provide opportunities for continuing education in various forms and to promote learning for life,” said Mark Rollins, dean of University College. “The institute is a significant asset to Washington University. With this funding, it can expand its rich academic programming and reach even more people in the community.”

Katie Compton, director of OLLI, is excited about the possibilities to enlarge the learning program’s community. “We are proud of the national recognition that our well-established Lifelong Learning Institute at Washington University has received. With funding from the Osher Foundation, our LLI will renovate two additional classrooms in our building and expand our marketing efforts, enabling us to grow and flourish in the community,” Compton said.

“Becoming an Osher Institute also means that, as a participant in a national consortium of university-based lifelong learning programs, we are part of a wonderful group with whom we can exchange ideas.”

“We are delighted to support Washington University’s excellent lifelong learning program,” said Mary Bitterman, president of the Osher Foundation. “We warmly welcome the dedicated members of its learning community to the national Osher Institute network and look forward to their continuing contributions to the field of lifelong learning. We also trust that they will benefit from a lively engagement with colleagues on 123 campuses from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska.”

The Bernard Osher Foundation, which is based in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by businessman and community leader Bernard Osher. The foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

For more information about the OLLI at Washington University, contact Compton at ccompton@wustl.edu.

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