Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Celebrates 20 years

March 20, 2014

Bradley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute celebrated 20 years of service to the community with a banquet highlighting the efforts of university administrators, staff and members.

“It’s something to be proud of, to look back and reminisce about wonderful memories and things to look forward to,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “I believe Bradley’s OLLI program is one of the best in the country, as evidenced by the $1 million endowment. It’s a testament here today because of the dedication, commitment and passion by you. It’s your program and the Hilltop is your home.”

Bradley President Joanne Glasser commended OLLI for two decades of service to the community.

Janet Lange, executive director of continuing education and professional development, envisioned the adult education concept while working on her master’s degree. She credited OLLI members for their interest and efforts to build the program.

“You the members are the heart and soul of the organization,” Lange said. “It’s your organization. It’s a true community of learners and you’re a part of that community.”

The organization, originally named the Institute for Learning in Retirement, launched in 1994 with the help of $10,000 in startup funds. The inaugural year brought 84 people to 20 classes. This year, OLLI reached more than 400 people through 59 classes. OLLI has topped 1,000 members three consecutive years, with 1,028 this year who participate in classes, study groups, learning trips, cinema and lectures.

The Institute for Learning in Retirement accepted a 2008 invitation to affiliate with San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation and changed its name to today’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The foundation supports a range of education and integrative medicine programs, including 117 adult education programs like Bradley.

Following program expansion with two $100,000 grants from the Osher Foundation, OLLI received a $1 million endowment in 2010. That funding, in addition to successful fundraisers, enabled OLLI to expand its offerings to special events, lectures and Sunday cinema.

The endowments also have enabled OLLI to add vital staff.

“So much has happened the past 20 years and it’s important to stop and celebrate,” Lange said.