Bridging the Age Gap - OLLI at the University of Delaware
Dr. Zulfacar Discovers Life - OLLI at The University of Alabama
The Mona Sherman Memorial Annual Lecture - OLLI at Berkshire Community College
Expansion to the Gulf Park Campus - OLLI at the University of Southern Mississippi
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Greetings from the NRC    July 2015

The second month of our re-launched monthly OLLI Newsletter brings a few changes from the first one in June. You will notice we've increased the size and changed the color of our font - after hearing from a few readers that they had trouble reading it. We are trying to balance visual needs while not making it so large that the newsletter goes on for an electronic mile. We appreciate your comments of support and approval for the new format. With your help, we'll continue to refine and improve it. 
Wieboldt Hall

This month, we offer more details on the upcoming Osher Institutes National Conference, including a basic look at our schedule of events. And we share some of the topline topic data from the survey responses of 93 OLLI Directors on content important to cover. We want you to see the top 20 topics that directors favor for the conference, but remind you that we have time to cover fewer than all of these. Now our job is to focus the approach on these topics and recruit presenters, facilitators and speakers that can offer their expertise to conference sessions. I'm glad to say we're making progress. You might be approached in the coming weeks for help, with our thanks for your ongoing collegiality.

The full NRC staff of Stacey Hart, Diane Venzera and myself are looking forward to attending the Southern Regional Conference at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. What great work our colleagues in Alabama are doing in hosting this conference. We look forward to meeting those of you who are able to attend later this month.  

Enjoy your July newsletter, but most of all, we hope you are having a terrific summer!
Steve Thaxton, Executive Director 


OLLI at the University of Delaware

Bridging the Age Gap

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware recently invited professor of human development and family studies, Bahira Sherif Trask, to present to members on the topic of cultural diversity in families. Professor Trask invited three University of Delaware students as a panel in the hope of generating a more interactive, intergenerational, and thorough discussion. 

Attended by more than 100 people, the presentation began with Trask talking about global trends in families and ended with a question and answer session between the younger students and Osher Institute members. Notably, although "the age gap between Osher participants and a typical UD student spans three or more decades, that didn't stop the participants from entering a rich discussion about issues such as family policy, education, immigration and family structure." The event was beneficial for both students who found "it a very positive experience to interact with a population with which they don't typically interact," and Osher Institute attendees who called the discussion "a grand slam." A detailed article about the event was published by the UDaily and can be found online here.

Submitted by: Tara White Kee, PhD, OLLI at the University of Delaware 

OLLI at The University of Alabama 

Dr. Zulfacar Discovers Life
OLLI at the The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa had the honor of hosting a presentation by Dr. Maliha Zulfacar, the first Afghan woman to pursue a degree in the United States. Dr. Zulfacar discussed women's issues, education, diplomacy and recent events in Afghanistan. Zulfacar said she was proud to speak at an Osher Institute event.

The lecture took place on October 16, 2014, at the Bryant Conference Center. Students from three different colleges of The University of Alabama attended the event along with OLLI members, faculty, and staff. Edward "Buck" Whatley, OLLI chapter president and lifelong friend, introduced Dr. Zulfacar and each told of how they met decades earlier. Zulfacar joked that the amazing variety of free Mediterranean food was the reason for the large crowd.

Dr. Zulfacar described her adventurous past. Born in 1951 in Kabul, she fled Afghanistan during a Russian invasion in 1979 for Germany. She began to study at the German Technical Institute. With a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees in hand, Dr. Zulfacar went on to earn her doctorate in sociology from Paderborn University in 1998. Dr. Zulfacar became the first female ambassador from Afghanistan and currently represents Afghanistan in Germany. Among her many accomplishments, she cited being a proud mother of two as her greatest achievement.

Osher Institute members enjoyed having university students join the lecture. The evening ended following a Q&A session, photos, dessert and wine. A detailed article about the event was published by the The Crimson White and can be found online here.

Submitted by: Tory Shumpert, OLLI at The University of Alabama

OLLI at Berkshire Community College

Great Community Outreach: The Mona Sherman Memorial Annual Lecture 

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College makes the Memorial Day weekend big - beginning with their Annual Meeting, followed by the Annual Mona Sherman Memorial Lecture with celebrations and fundraising through an OLLI Art Show and Silent Auction the rest of the weekend.

Former OLLI Board President Arthur Sherman, Steve Thaxton NRC Executive Director, Mike Barnicle, Lisa Sharkey, (Mona Sherman's daughter), OLLI Director Megan Whilden, and BCC President Ellen Kennedy

The Mona Sherman Memorial Lecture is open to the public and honors the memory of Mona Sherman, former OLLI Board President who helped lead the transformation from the Berkshire Institute for Lifetime Learning (BILL) to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The Sherman Family continues to organize and underwrite these lectures, bringing regional and national figures to the Berkshires. This event consistently draws large community crowds, is free and open to the public, and serves as great outreach and marketing for OLLI.

This year's speaker was Mike Barnicle, 35-year veteran print and broadcast journalist, and social and political commentator. A regular on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mike is best known for his straightforward commentary and a writing style that gives voice to "every man." A Massachusetts native, Mike has written more than 4,000 newspaper columns for the Boston Herald, New York Daily News and The Boston Globe. His articles and commentary have appeared in Time magazine, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and Esquire.

Megan Whilden, Director for OLLI at Berkshire Community College, notes, "The Mona Sherman Memorial Lecture is an extraordinary gift to our members and to our community that we are honored to facilitate. Mona's husband, Arthur Sherman, continues to play an essential role in OLLI at BCC, and his generosity of spirit and commitment to lifelong learning is an ongoing inspiration. I hope it can serve as a model to other OLLIs."

Barnicle entertained and informed the packed crowd in the Historic Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, telling fascinating stories about friends, mentors and political figures he has known, including Tip O'Neill, multiple members of the Kennedy Family and President Obama. Mike's theme focused on "Optimism- America's Most Ignored Asset". And optimism is something he connects to the mission of OLLI. Prior to the event, Barnicle told the Berkshire Eagle, "Any cause that encourages people to never stop learning, never stop participating in the social/cultural experiment that is these United States of America, and is Berkshire County and is Pittsfield - I'm for it," Barnicle said. "That's why I'm going". 


For more information, contact OLLI Director, Megan Whilden: mwhilden@berkshirecc.eduOLLI at Berkshire Community College 

OLLI at the University of Southern Mississippi 
Expansion to the Gulf Park Campus


OLLI members Vicki Reed, Dave Reed and Bobby Payne dissect a shark

For the past 23 years, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi has offered year-round activities for seniors on its Hattiesburg campus.  In early 2015, they were excited to launch the start of lifelong learning classes at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

With this program expansion, OLLI at the University of Southern Mississippi is renewing their focus on keeping programs fun through the connection of mind, body and spiritual health courses that maintain an emphasis on engagement. This summer, the theme is intergenerational so that grandparents can interact with their grandchildren. Some of the classes offered include: crafts for all, and dolphin behavior and intelligence.

Healthcare writer, Eileen Beal explains, "Few people know about the positive benefits that another kind of sustained exercise - participation in art programs that have participants stretching and flexing their minds and thinking outside the box - seems to have on older adults. Nor are they aware of how easy it is to keep things going after they've taken the plunge."

As OLLIs such as the one at the University of Southern Mississippi continue to develop courses that feed the mind, body, and spirit, we celebrate their opportunity to impact lives in such positive ways.

Submitted By: OLLI at the University of Southern Mississippi

Eileen Beal article and more information on Creative Aging

NRC Updates

Annual Endowment Reports

July marks the beginning of the 2015-2016 period for Osher Institute annual reporting.  As in the past, each Osher Institute will receive an email with a link to the current online annual endowment report during their reporting month. Please note that there are new and additional questions in this year's report questionnaire, as the Osher Foundation and the National Resource Center are in the process of updating the database information for each of the Institutes.  


NRC staff would like to thank you all for the information that you have provided us in these past few months, both individually and through surveys that were distributed. As we get up to speed and work on the creation of conference material and resources for the 119 Osher Institutes, the information that you all provide is invaluable in assisting our steps forward. Thank you!

  Charlotte, NC - October 2015
conferenceNational Conference Update

Check the NRC website for National Conference updates including:

  • The 2015 Osher Institute National Conference will commence at 4pm on Monday, October 12th, with the registration table opening at 2pm. 
  • The online conference registration link will be emailed to OLLI Directors on August 5th and will remain live through August 15th.
  • Wondering where you're headed? Here's a link the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, NC.
  • Results from the conference topics survey:


 basecamp Basecamp Committee Report

The Basecamp committee met via Adobe Connect in June to look at ways to improve collaboration and communication between OLLIs via Basecamp.  Small steps have already been made, beginning with the organizing of files within the OLLI Network Project so that they are now searchable by different topics including: Basecamp Help; Catalog Samples; Evaluations and Surveys; Logos, Marketing, Swag, etc.; Operations, Policies, Procedures; and, Strategic Planning. 

Have you noticed some users in Basecamp updating their name to provide more information about their Institute location and role?  Join your colleagues and update your contact information in Basecamp to this naming convention so that when you post, everyone will know who you are and where you're from.

Basecamp Example


The OLLI Insider

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli

Dear Olli,

I'm wondering if it is permissible for my spouse to come to the National Conference in Charlotte? Keeping marital harmony is always a priority...

Sincerely, Happily Married

Dear Happily Married,

The NRC and the Osher Foundation discourage having spouses accompany attendees. This is because we keep everyone continually engaged throughout our few days together and we aren't able to invite them to join us for meals or evening events. As most of you know, we're all focused on learning and networking during this rare time together. And we try hard to keep the Conference as intimate as possible - with just two guests from each OLLI unit - to maintain a high quality, personal experience. We hope that this practice doesn't risk your marital harmony. Might Olli suggest a lavish gift from the Charlotte airport gift shop as a token of your love and esteem?

With best wishes, Olli


Dear Olli,

I am putting off having a difficult talk with one of our volunteer leaders. This is a person who has devoted considerable time and effort to our Institute, but I continually find myself disagreeing with them on a number of issues. Can you give me any tips that might help me express myself in a clear and kind way? I really don't want to lose this valued person's support for our OLLI, but they're causing me lost sleep.

Regretfully, Stewing

Dear Stewing,

You are wise to see that addressing your differences with this valued volunteer is important - an excellent starting point. You seem to genuinely care for this individual regardless of your disagreements. However, it is important that you stop procrastinating, and equally important that you carefully prepare for a private, respectful, and honest conversation. Aren't you in awe of people who can say difficult things without being offensive? Well Stew, this is a learned skill, and there's an excellent book that I can recommend to help you learn many of those skills in one quick read: Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian and Al Switzler, (second edition, 2012). This book is filled with wisdom and technique. For example, you'll learn to keep your difficult discussion respectful and productive by "building safety" into the conversation - to avoid the danger of "silence" or "violence" in the dialogue. OLLI keeps a copy of this book within reach because life is full of conversations like this - with colleagues, friends, family, and even acquaintances. This is enriching bedtime reading that will help you sleep better. 

With high hopes, Olli

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Stacey Hart at the NRC:Stacey.Hart@Northwestern.edu 

Educational Travel Ideas from In and Outside the OLLI Network
The OLLI Traveler

OLLI at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Week of Learning 2016: Understanding American Government

Dust off your old civics text book and get ready to discover how American government works with a hands-on visit to Washington D.C. Participants in this year's Week of Learning will meet with notable politicians, government officials, lobbyists, political action committees and scholars about the ins and outs of our democracy. We'll focus on a several important, current issues and the various forces affecting them. We will tour prominent cultural sites and monuments in our national capitol, as well as attend a performance at Ford's Theatre. Accommodations at the One Washington Circle Hotel, conveniently located in downtown Washington DC. Lunch or dinner each day included. Fly direct from Milwaukee to Washington Reagan Airport on Southwest Airlines.

Dates: Apr 24 - Apr 29, 2016

OLLI at University of Illinois

All Aboard the 'Ocean': Qu?bec to the Maritimes by Train

Embark on a journey through eastern Canada aboard the "Ocean" and revel in the charm of Qu?bec and the Maritimes. Setting off from the island of Montreal, ride the rails through the lower St. Lawrence River valley to New Brunswick. Stop along the way to experience Qu?bec city, the natural beauty of the Bay of Fundy and the unique culture of Acadia in New Brunswick. Sponsored in collaboration with Road Scholar.

Dates: Jul 29 - Aug 8, 2015



OLLI at Santa Clara University

Magical Music Along the Blue Danub

Cruising the Danube takes on new meaning when you book this exclusive 12-day classical music tour with Tauck Travel. You'll have a chance to walk in the footsteps of musical giants like Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok, Schubert, Liszt, Strauss, Hayden and others as you travel from Budapes to Prague, including a 7-night cruise aboard the luxurious Miss Swiss Travel. Tauck's "maestros" will expertly guide your explorations ashore and enrich your onboard musical experience while cruising the Danube River.

Dates: Sep 10 - 21, 2015  


Interesting Facts to Know and Talk About
didyouknowDid You Know...?
  • Only people over 50 understand: What "Green Stamps" were; Who "Mr. Green Jeans" was or; Have seen "Burma Shave" billboards
  • For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors: http://pewrsr.ch/1xPGzft
  • Adults over 50 now account for about 80% of luxury travel spending in the United States: http://bit.ly/1dg5Kjy 

  Career Openings in the OLLI Network
jobboardJob Board

Program Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Eckerd College

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

University of Southern Mississippi


Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

University of Las Vegas, Nevada


Classroom and Facilities Coordinator, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

University of California, Berkeley


Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Penn State - York


Office Assistant - The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts

Tufts University