Greetings from the NRC............. September 2022

Within the fabric of Osher Institutes is a spirit of collaboration. OLLIs weave the threads of fascinating content from skilled people and captivating organizations into learning and social experiences that enrich members and communities. The pandemic has helped lengthen those threads. Increasingly, the boundaries of time and place are disappearing, allowing Institutes to serve members and recruit instructors from afar or virtually visit distant places. Collaborations can be more easily formed to enrich the OLLI experience across campus, across town, or across the globe. In this month’s newsletter, we feature a few examples of partnerships that show how creative that weaving can be. Just like many things that are woven, the finished products are stronger and more beautiful due to the artful combination of those threads.

We hope as you transition into the fast-approaching fall that you weave in plenty of time for engagement with your own Osher Institute. 

Sending wishes for an excellent fall semester from the Osher NRC,


NRC Staff

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"Live From Korea" Summer Lecture Series

“There is so much interest in Korea nowadays and I’m glad that Mason Korea could serve some of that interest by offering this program to the Northern Virginia and greater community. I’m a great believer in the OLLI mission and look forward to further collaboration between OLLI and Mason Korea.” - Dr. Robert Matz, Mason Korea Campus Dean 


This summer, OLLI at George Mason University partnered with Mason Korea to present “Live from Korea,” an international interactive summer course series. For OLLI at George Mason, it is a common practice that university faculty teach many of the OLLI courses. “Live from Korea” was no exception, with a twist. The classes for this endeavor featured Mason Korea faculty teaching for OLLI for the first time.


Six Mason Korea faculty and one Mason Korea advisory board member taught the six session online course series. The course meetings ranged from “Inter-Korea Relations and North Korea” to “Between Cultural Hybridization and Appropriation: The Meaning of “K” in K-Pop.” The sessions covered topics on Korean history, economics, international relations, and culture. Each online lecture had between 100 to nearly 400 views on Zoom and YouTube. 


“OLLI Mason community members are extremely curious to explore Korean art, music, culture, food, geography, economics, and world affairs. The 'Live from Korea' series examined these topic areas and more,” said Jennifer Disano, executive director of OLLI. “Many thanks to all of the amazing Mason Korea presenters and to Dr. Matz for his leadership in designing the series with OLLI program associate Shannon Kim Morrow.” OLLI and Mason Korea will offer version two of the “Live from Korea” series in summer 2023.


Read more information about the lectures

Watch the recorded lectures.  


Submitted by: Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, OLLI at George Mason University


The Shortest Distance Between Two Hearts is a Story: Senior Readers Theater

The purpose of OLLI at Western Michigan University (WMU) is to provide members with educational opportunities designed for adults 50 and greater. But for the Senior Readers Theater group, they are doing just the opposite! This group of OLLI members are using a series of short plays, written by award-winning playwright and author Linda LaRocque, to share issues facing seniors. They perform these plays for younger students in fields such as health and human services to help the students become more effective in their own careers as they interact with patients and clients who are older.

Sharon Wade, OLLI member and co-chair of the Events Committee of OLLI at WMU noted “OLLI actors will perform for various fields of medical students to help the students get inside the mindset of the aging so they can better understand the issues seniors face.” Sharon and other OLLI members put hours into practicing as they prepare to expand the reach of their performances. They now have performances scheduled at Friendship Village, a local retirement community. Thanks to Drs. Yvonne Jackson and Melissa Brown of the Physical Therapy Doctoral Program, the relationship between OLLI and the College of Health and Human Services at WMU has been strengthened. The group is also gearing up to present to Dr. Deborah Lindstrom’s occupational therapy students, and they continue to add more audiences.

While the plays provide educational examples of real-life scenarios seniors and their family members face, much of the learning takes place in the “talk backs” that follow the plays. Linda LaRocque shared “The students are enthusiastic and pick up on things you didn't think they would notice or ask about. They connect personally with the stories and connect them to their professional work as well. And we know that the shortest distance between two hearts is a story.” The plays are educational, emotional, and especially funny, though always designed in a way to show the experiences of older adults without mocking or making fun of this age group.

OLLI director Toni Woolfork-Barnes noted this is a growing group of about 20 OLLI members who are gaining traction at WMU. The work of the group not only brings educational opportunities to the younger students but showcases OLLI at WMU across the campus and community.

Submitted by: Toni Woolfork-Barnes, OLLI at Western Michigan University


OLLIs and Libraries Join Forces

Many Osher Institutes have strong partnerships with their campus libraries. And some have expanded collaborations into their community public libraries. These efforts have proven to be beneficial to library partners, OLLI members, and the surrounding communities alike.

OLLI at the University of Minnesota established their content partnership with the Ramsey County Library more than 10 years ago. The Institute co-hosts two annual speaker series: Tuesday with a Scholar, and Great Decisions – a world affairs curriculum developed by Foreign Policy Association and co-sponsored with Global Minnesota. For each of these online series, OLLI members register through the Institute’s system, and non-members register through Ramsey County. OLLI provides technical assistance for both programs; Ramsey County Library arranges speakers for Tuesday with a Scholar; OLLI curates speakers for Great Decisions. Their partnership extends to an annual course taught by popular historian J.B. Andersen. Each partnership element draws several hundred participants serving general library patrons and Osher members from across the Twin Cities. OLLI director Kate Schaefers notes, “This partnership makes so much sense for us. We gain visibility for OLLI and expand our curriculum with terrific content curated by Ramsey County Library.”

At Clemson University, OLLI has become a small satellite library to the Clemson Libraries right inside their Institute’s off-campus facility. The collaboration helps members access university library resources, particularly from a select collection of materials to complement current course offerings at OLLI. The partnership started in August and also features books related to the history of Clemson University and South Carolina. “OLLI has more than 1,000 members, and the majority of them are not originally from South Carolina and are not Clemson alumni. This partnership will help them get a better understanding and create a sense of place about where they have chosen to retire,” said OLLI director Julie Vidotto. The collaboration provides members the convenience to order, pick up, and drop off loaned materials at this added location. It was established through a generous donation from OLLI members and Clemson alumni Roger and Kathy Troutman.

Across the sweeping metro of Phoenix, OLLI at Arizona State University has six distinct sites. Since 2006, through generous support from the Friends of the Library, one of these sites is inside the Tempe Public Library. OLLI classes meet in the 40-seat “Tempe Connections” program room, located just outside the library’s café, with appreciated coffee and food service right next to classroom. Tables for small groups to gather and discuss their learning surround this area of the large regional library. The well-equipped meeting room adjoins an expansive outdoor terrace where OLLI classes and events can spread out to as needed. Their partnership formed to unite the mission of OLLI and the library in offering learning and cultural opportunities for the broader Tempe community. Over the years it has expanded to include speaker series, author appearances, and social events. For the past 10 years, OLLI coordinator Jolene Gosling has been the welcoming and hardworking staff member directing the site’s work. Reflecting on the partnership. Jolene says, “OLLI really thrives here. Attending a class easily spills over to conversations over coffee. Friendships and that deep, warm sense of community soon follows!"

Osher NRC 2022 Webinar & Workshop Series

Mark your calendar for the next Osher NRC webinar on Wednesday, September 28th beginning at 2pm Eastern/1pm Central/noon Mountain/11am Pacific/10am in Alaska and 9am in Hawaii. This webinar is open to all staff, volunteer leaders and members within the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network. Register for the webinar here.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Member Benchmarking Data

The National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (Osher NRC) has conducted a variety of surveys of both Osher Institutes and their members to create benchmarks of demographic and operational data. In this webinar, the NRC will review these data and offer insights on the research findings including membership demographics, distance learning practices, volunteer committee structures, and more.



Kevin Connaughton, Manager of Adult Learning, Osher NRC


Amanda Rhodes, Associate Director, Osher NRC


Stacey Rivera, Manager of Operations, Osher NRC


Steve Thaxton, Executive Director, Osher NRC


If you have interest in being a presenter or have ideas for future webinars or workshops, please contact Kevin Connaughton ( 


Prelude to Justice at Oklahoma State University

What is a Woo-Hoo? A Woo-Hoo is one of those wonderful, amazing, out of the box experiences at an OLLI. All Osher Institutes have the opportunity to submit and showcase their Woo-Hoo for the Osher National Conference. The Woo-Hoos are shared during general sessions at the conference, and attendees vote on their favorites. The following is one of the winners from the 2022 Osher Institutes National Conference.

Prelude to Justice at Oklahoma State University

OLLI at Oklahoma State hosted “Prelude to Justice: Art, Reform and the Work of Sister Helen Prejean.” This five-week, multidisciplinary series focused on the works of Sister Helen Prejean, an activist and author of Dead Man Walking and River of Fire. Discussions centered on jurisprudence, the criminal justice system, and recovery through art. Sister Helen joined via livestream for two classes. Concluding the series, OSU Professor April Golliver-Mohiuddin gave an operatic recital featuring works from the Dead Man Walking opera.


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