A community of learners over 50

November, 2022 | Vol 3, No. 1


A New Director, A New Catalog, and Other Changes Ahead

With the coming of November, the holiday season already is in full swing, and this November has a special event to start it off – the first-ever election day lunar eclipse, on Nov. 8. Check it out. It’s apparently the last lunar eclipse until 2025!

Our OLLI is in full swing, too; you can read about many activities in this month’s OLLILife.


Our enthusiastic and fun new director, Veronica Maxwell, started officially on Oct. 3. Since then, she has been working actively with retiring Director Ara Rogers and many members of the Board of Advisors and committee chairmen. She is sitting in on classes and meetings and getting to know the ropes and the people she will be leading.

Ara will retire at the end of the year. Watch for your online invitation to the big party to celebrate her on Dec. 13. Read on for an article about Ara and her 21 years as our OLLI director.

The Biggest Term of the Year

A large group of volunteer writers, editors and proofreaders has been hard at work preparing the winter catalog for our biggest term of the year. I was given a copy to help edit, so I got to read it all; I think you will be very happy with the excellence, variety, and content of the courses you will find there.

There are plenty to choose from, with 135 liberal arts courses (85 in person and 35 online) and 31 technology courses (25 online, four in person, and two hybrids), as well as 12 free Friday lectures and a few field trips as part of some courses. And more than 50 courses are brand new!

A New Open House


Save the date for the Winter Open House. it is planned for January 11, 2023, at the Centro Asturiano, with a much-loved speaker, Golfo Alexopoulos. Golfo is the director of the Institute for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at USF. She speaks American English and knows a whole lot about what’s going on in those areas.

Here is an item worth noting: There have been more class date changes than usual this term because of the hurricane, so it’s good to check the Master Calendar at www.usfseniors.org and watch for emails from OLLI, USF, Joseph McAuliffe, or Jeanne Dyer so you don’t miss a change for your classes.


Happy November, and don’t forget to vote!


Nov. 2 -- Online course: Julius Rosenwald: The Most Important Philanthropist You Never Heard Of

Dec. 13 -- Farewell reception for Ara Rogers


Greetings OLLI Members! 

I have nearly reached a month’s time in my new role, and it has been fascinating to say the least. The days and weeks are moving as if they are late for an appointment.

I have been inundated with meetings, trainings, introductions, and other new employee-related appointments to heighten my knowledge of the wonderful world of OLLI.

Every day, I am learning more about OLLI while enjoying the occasional peek into vibrant classrooms (live and virtual), reviewing the intriguing faculty profiles, and gaining appreciation for the robust volunteer engagement that keeps OLLI going.

The most rewarding part of my first few weeks with OLLI has been the astounding and resounding warmth that comes with meeting the members and the magnificent staff who embody kindness. There aren’t enough words to express what it feels like to walk beside the incomparable Aracelis (Ara) Rogers, who is a meek force of sweet reckoning.

Finally, it is noteworthy to mention the incredible honor I feel to serve in this capacity and how excited I am about OLLI’s very, bright future. 


 -- Veronica Maxwell


headshot Ara

As Ara Rogers Prepares To Retire, We Look Back On Her Remarkable Career

After 21 years of leading OLLI-USF, Ara Rogers will retire at the end of this year, leaving behind a vibrant organization with numerous classes and social events, scores of volunteers involved in its operations, and the widespread admiration and respect of the community.

It’s a much different organization from when Ara first took on its reins.

In the beginning, there was no OLLI.

Ara’s first encounter with the organization occurred in 1994, shortly after it was established at USF as the Division of Senior Programs under the direction of Lee Leavengood. The program had two parts: the Senior Net program, which provided computer training; and Learning In Retirement, which had a more academic focus. Ara worked part time in the LIR program while completing a master’s degree in adult education.

After earning her degree, Ara took a job as a Medicare educator for Blue Cross, Blue Shield. But in 2001, just as Ara was looking for a new professional path, Lee began preparations to move on.

Leading the program was a perfect fit, Ara says. “I didn’t want to work in the insurance industry anymore, but I wanted to continue working with the education of older adults,” she says.

On a most auspicious day -- Sept. 11, 2001 -- Ara became USF’s interim coordinator of senior programs. It was a small program, almost an afterthought of the university. There was one room at the university for computer classes, and LIR classes met at the new College of Public Health. So only a few courses could be offered to its 300 or so members each semester.

The program’s existence was also tenuous. Funding and its place at USF were continuously called into question.

Then in 2005, Ara got a phone call.

“It was from a young man who said he was a researcher. It turned out he was assistant to the president of the Bernard Osher Foundation. They were quietly setting up lifelong learning programs and wanted to grow a national network,” Ara says.

Would she be interested in participating?, she was asked.

Four years later, financed with two consecutive annual $100,00 grants followed by two consecutive $1 million endowed gifts, OLLI-USF was well on its way to becoming a thriving educational organization for seniors.

“That was one of the greatest things Ara ever did," says Joseph McAuliffe. "She did all the work, all the arranging and setting up of our relationship with the Osher Institute.” 

Joseph, a former pastor who had been working in a temporary position for LIR, was the first to be hired full-time after the conversion to OLLI. As the new educational program manager, Joseph was charged with developing the arts and sciences programs. He worked alongside several staffers who managed the former division of senior program’s technology training.

“Ara hired me, and that was the beginning of what turned out to be a wonderful professional and personal relationship,” Joseph says.

“When I first came here, educational planning was not part of my background,” he says. “Ara was my trainer. And once she trained me, she let me do what needed to be done.”

The OLLI designation and funding has enabled Ara to add more fulltime staff positions since hiring Joseph. Staff members now also include Operations Program Manager Cath Mason; Jeanne Dyer, head of technology training; Charise Dixie, in charge of registration; and part-timer Mary Ettinger, in charge of program support and the OLLI calendar.

The designation also enabled Ara to grow a program with just a few classrooms and a handful of instructors into an educational force. Today, OLLI-USF offers more than 100 classes taught by over 100 instructors at 16 different locations in addition to Zoom every semester.

Tapping Into Talents

It’s a matter of choosing the right people for the job and then empowering them to do it. That is very much Ara’s style, even with the volunteers who help keep OLLI’s wheels turning

Board of Advisors Chairman Mike Viren is a retired mechanical engineer and economist. When OLLI needed a new registration system, Ara turned to Mike and Bruce Gobioff, an expert in technology management, to work on the project with OLLI staff.

“Ara figured out who would be needed and then let us do what we do best,” Mike says.

The result was Lumens, a much more user-friendly system tailored specifically to OLLI’s registration requirements.

Saving OLLI

Mike also credits Ara with keeping OLLI-USF going when the pandemic struck in early 2020. As in-person classes were shutting down and SIG meetings were being cancelled, Ara tapped into the membership’s technology experts to keep it going. The result was a rapid and highly successful conversion to classes on Zoom.

“She deserves the accolades for keeping the organization going,” Mike says. “We lost a lot of members during the pandemic, but because we had so many technically qualified volunteers, we were able to adapt quickly to Zoom. So we had fewer members, but the members were taking more courses, which kept our revenue up.”

“She absolutely saved the life of OLLI during the pandemic by being so astute and just pivoting into the tech world,” says Jane Applegate, retired Dean of Education and an OLLI Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Assisting Instructors

Jane experienced firsthand Ara’s ability to quickly pivot to address problems.

It happened in 2015, Jane recalls: “I had taken a class that was just not very good, and I thought that the director of the program ought to know about it. So I went to the OLLI office and stopped by to see her.

“She just listened, as she always does, and said, ‘How would you like to work with me to help develop a better experience for the faculty?’” Jane says.

Out of that conversation the Faculty Support Team and the class A Course is Born: From Concept to Classroom were created to help OLLI instructors develop and enhance their teaching abilities and techniques. Until recently, Jane and Ara taught that class together every spring. That job has now been turned over to other instructors.

Turning Over The Reins

As Ara prepares to turn over OLLI’s reins to her successor, Veronica Maxwell, she can look back at OLLI’s many successes: hundreds of high-quality courses, close to 200 volunteers who teach classes, serve on committees, and provide support for the staff, over a dozen Shared Interest Groups, and more than a thousand members.

And while she’s looking forward to a retirement filled with travel, spending more time with her three granddaughters, and other leisurely pursuits, she’s feeling a bit nostalgic.

“I know I’ll miss OLLI terribly. I’ll miss my work because it has been so meaningful to me,” she says. “OLLI really changed my life.”

As for her future involvement with OLLI, she is looking forward to becoming an ordinary member, taking classes, maybe teaching a course or two.

“OLLI is a place for people who are not done with learning,” she says. “It’s a place for ideas, where people are interested and interesting, and we are able to have conversations about any topic under the sun, I am so glad to be a part of that.” 

--Sandy Buckley

 You're Invited

OLLI/USF members and Ara's colleagues will have an opportunity to say farewell and send her off to new adventures at a farewell party. You'll also have the chance to meet her successor, Veronica Maxwell.

The gathering will be held at Compton Park on Tuesday, Dec. 13, from 4 p.m. to 6 pm. Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Look for your invitation, which will be sent out via email in early November.


Food! Glorious Food!

A gathering of eight had a delicious lunch at Falabella Family Bistro in the Grove At Westley Chapel. The food and service were great and, as always, the company was a lot of fun! Many took leftovers home for dinner.

The SIG was happy to welcome some newcomers to the group. You can find out more about Food! Glorious Food! in the SIG section below. 

On the Trails with

OLLI Hikers

OLLI Outdoors SIG hikers hit the trails on October 13 for their regular second Thursday hike at Cypress Creek Nature Preserve – Lizard Tail park. 

The trails were a bit soggy, due to the overnight rains, but 19 hikers nimbly navigated the wet spots along the trails. We also welcomed three new Outdoors members to their first hike.

The yellow trail eventually proved unnavigable at the back of the park. However, we managed a nice 2.8-mile trek with a few taking the shorter option at the turnaround point.

My favorite part was the wide flatwood prairie filled with bluestars, primrose willows, and other wildflowers. A hapless ornate box turtle, minding its own business, was an instant social media star. He, or she, declined to sign autographs and scooted away quickly -- for a turtle -- after tolerating a photo shoot.

Best of all was the delightful companionship along the trail!

If all that wasn’t enough – and really, can you ever have too much OLLI outdoors fun – 12 of us had a well-deserved lunch at CALI Tampa Palms after the hike.

--Diane White

Visiting A Roadside Attraction

Members of the Florida's Roadside Attractions: Before the Mouse class, taught by Shelly Blood (fifth from left), took a field trip to Sunken Gardens on Oct. 19.

As a special treat, Docent Cathy Lee, granddaughter of the original owners, told about the history of the attraction as she led the group through its lush gardens.

Lunch With The Baby Boomers 

Members of Mike Hayes' class, Americapalooza: Boomers Talk About Our Generation, gathered for lunch at Johnny Rockets restaurants on Oct. 21.It was the first time that members of this online class met in person. The result was a rockin' good time.

-- Photo by Mike Hayes

A Yummy Celebration

A group of 17 people from Conviviality and Celebrations met recently for their October luncheon at Yummy House China Bistro on East Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.


This group of OLLI members and guests meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at various eateries in the local area to celebrate and recognize birthdays and other special occasions. All are invited to join in the fun.


The group will be taking a break in November and December for the holidays.


Email Kat Hanscom for more information and details on the next luncheon which is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. 

--Photo by Kat Hanscom


Want To Help Make OLLI Tick?


The Strategic and Operations Planning committee (SOP) of OLLI is a lively group of members from different backgrounds and disciplines. Its mission is to identify the internal and external factors that influence OLLI's ability to thrive and to develop plans to deal with them. 


The SOP is looking for members who can add different perspectives and new ideas to keep current and fresh.

Perhaps you have experience in developing goals and strategies or experience in systems to manage progress. Maybe you want to add your own voice because you feel committed to what OLLI does.

The meetings are always energizing and meaningful, and you will have the opportunity to work with a group or independently on projects of importance.

Email Joan Weaving or call her at 201-873-5251 if you are interested in joining the committee or finding out more information.

Help OLLI Help You

Seasoned, enthusiastic OLLI Members are needed to help with a short-term project. It would involve making brief personal calls to existing and lapsed members for the following purposes:

  • Help OLLI leadership stay abreast of members' interest and common concerns

  • Share upcoming OLLI activities 


 Your help will be needed from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.

Email Pam Tyler or text her at 575-779-1382 if interested.  

OLLI at Berkshire Community College and OLLI at the University of Richmond presents:

Julius Rosenwald: The Most Important Philanthropist You Never Heard Of

Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m.

Online via Zoom.

Free & open to all. Registration required.

       Please note the date as you will need to sign up immediately

Learn more and register at https://berkshireolli.org/event-4985471

In the early 20th century, Julius Rosenwald, a child of German Jewish immigrants, president of Sears Roebuck, and visionary philanthropist, partnered with Booker T. Washington and African American communities to build 4,977 schools for Black children across the Jim Crow South. Learn more about this incredible story, the impact of these schools in our U.S. history, and the campaign to create a new national park to preserve the history of these schools.


  • Dorothy Canter, Ph.D., president of the Rosenwald Park Campaign 

  • Stephanie Deutsch, author of You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South

  • Alan Spears, senior director for cultural resources of the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA)

  • Robert G. Stanton, first African American director of the National Park Service


Another Event Series of Interest:


INNOVATION IN THE BERKSHIRES - a 2022 Virtual Lecture Series

Hear from innovative firms in the life sciences, clean energy, defense, aerospace, and creative arts sectors.

Wednesdays, Oct. 12 - Nov. 16

5:00 - 6:30 PM (Please note that while the series began in October, there are three lectures available in November)

All lectures are on Zoom

Free and open to all!

To learn more and register:




The Travel Opportunities Committee and Premier World Discovery provided this trip to Utah for 33 OLLI travelers this past October. It was the first trip offered by OLLI since the COVID shutdown. Read below about the group's fantastic experience.

The tour began in Grand Junction, Colorado, where we drove along Rim Rock Drive and visited the Colorado National Monument. We then proceeded west to Moab, Utah, driving along the Colorado River on Scenic Highway 128 looking in awe at the rock formations and landscapes carved by the river.

After checking into our hotel in Moab, we were treated to a fabulous dinner at the appropriately named Sunset Grill on the hill above the Hyatt Place Hotel. We were led to a gorgeous sunset with purple hues behind the mountains.

Moab was our hub and starting point each day. Our first stop was Dead Horse State Park and the Grandview lookout in Canyonlands Island in the Sky. We made a relaxing stop at a local winery in the afternoon, then dinner was on our own.

The following day, we drove south to Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation and Gouldings Museum, where we were reminded of all the western movies that were filmed there. On our free day, some people stayed in Moab; one couple chartered a plane and flew over Canyonlands and Arches, while others took an optional excursion to Capitol Reef where the Petroglyphs can be viewed while enjoying a picnic lunch. 

An Amazing Sunrise

On the last day in Moab, we were up before sunrise to get into Arches National Park before the wait line formed at the entrance into the park. The moon was still up for a short walk to Balancing Rock, and then some took a more advanced hike partway to Delicate Arch.

In the afternoon some visited the Moab Museum while a more adventurous group went for a Hummer excursion. That evening, everyone indulged at a barbeque followed by a jet boat ride on the Colorado River that began in daylight and ended after dark.

A spectacular light show on the canyon walls was followed by an all lights out, revealing the night sky filled with twinkling stars. Some even saw a shooting star, a memorable farewell to our vacation.

---Karen Wright

Here’s what the travelers are saying about the tour…

"I am very happy with Premier as a tour operator." Nancy Stuart

"This was our first non-family trip since the start of the pandemic and the celebration of our 70th birthdays, our retirements and 29th wedding anniversary. I can't think of a better way to have spent it. We traveled among such beauty that all the pictures we've ever seen haven't done it justice. We are grateful for the opportunity." Doug and Joanne Forsythe

"Utah Rocks!!! The beauty of our national parks was everywhere Photos can't begin to express the vast landscape carved by wind and water over time." Karen and Fred Wright

"We happily became early risers and enjoyed every magnificent minute of this amazing trip. Seeing the Milky Way and star-filled sky on our Colorado River boat show was a breathtaking finale to this wonder-filled tour. Thank you OLLI, Premier World Discovery and our fellow travelers for such a perfect adventure." Betsy and Howard Schechter

"Amazing American Treasures!" Connie and Al Oliver   


"We enjoyed the tour immensely. Had something for everyone, and very well organized with both a professional tour director and driver. Meeting interesting people was a bonus!" Lynn and Laurence Oliver

Hurricane Ian Puts Kibosh on Trip

Due to the destruction from Hurricane Ian, the Florida Wilds Trip originally scheduled for March has been cancelled.

It may be offered in the future, but likely not before 2024.


Congratulations to New Volunteers

Congratulations and welcome to our newest group of volunteers who attended the virtual Volunteer Orientation and Information Session on Oct. 28.

Pictured above are, top row (left to right): Henry Saavedra, Brenda Uhlich and Sharon Stoll. Bottom row: Dave Watkins, Karen Price and Al Wileden.

Not pictured is Marian Schneider.

Special thanks to Advisory Board Member Earl Richardson for participating and providing additional insight. 


Kathy Palmer, SIG Liaison

For more information on OLLI SIGs see the full list here. Most of the SIGs are meeting on Zoom; a few are starting to organize small group meetings and outings. To visit a SIG, email the contact(s) below.

China SIG

For more information about the China SIG, please contact Nancy Stuart

Community of Readers and Writers

We are readers and writers in support of one another who connect via email and Zoom events. Our private Facebook group is a literary and how-to-write creative resource. Schedule group conversation feedback of your writing to help you take it to the next level. Request to try out our shared interests at 


Food! Glorious Food!

November will be a busy and active month for Food! Glorious Food!" with two outings planned. The first is Thurs., Nov. 3, a joint meeting with OLLI Outdoors (sorry, this is full) and a trip to Taaza Indian Market on Thurs., Nov. 17, for lunch and a market tour. Contact Jane Applegate for details if you'd like to join us for the market experience.

Hablemos! Spanish Conversation SIG

Is your Español rusty from lack of use? Join our friendly conversation group via Zoom on the first and third Tuesdays from 3 until 4:30 p.m. Come to talk or listen; all levels of Spanish speakers welcome. Upcoming meetings will be Tues., Nov. 1 and 15, at 3 p.m.  Email


for more information.

Ici on parle français!

Mon., Nov. 7 and 21, at 1 p.m. For an invitation, contact Theresa Sokol.


Thurs., Nov. 10, at 3:30 p.m. To play Scattergories, email Kathy Palmer for the link.

German Conversation

Tues., Nov. 8 and 22, at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Christine Basch.

OLLI Outdoors

Do you love the outdoors? Our events include hiking, walking, biking, paddling and online programs. Interested in trying an event or joining? Email the coordinators at ollioutdoors@gmail.com.

Tues., Nov. 1 - Bike ride, Anclote Coastal Trail

Thurs., Nov. 3 - Joint Outdoors/Foodie SIG Picnic - gentle nature walks and a program about herbs and edible flowers

Thurs., Nov. 10 - Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Preserve, four-mile hike 

Fri., Nov. 18 - Online program/social Urban Ecology for Citizens and Planners


Mon., Nov. 28, at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, 11400 Morris Bridge Road, Tampa 3363. The subject of the meeting will be the Metropolitan Opera's forthcoming productions of the Live in HD operas The Hours and Fedora. Contact Derrie Perez for more information. 


The next meeting will be in person on Wed., Nov. 9.  Email Doug Dallio for more information.


Wed., Nov. 9.  Join us for our first Walk in the Park series. We will meet at 9 a.m. at Upper Tampa Bay Park for a walk with photography opportunities. Gail Parsons will lead the hike and explain the flora and fauna. Bring a picnic lunch/brunch for after the walk! For more information,email Jean Nixon.

Talking Movies

Fri., Nov. 18, at 1:30 p.m.   Watch a movie and then get together on Zoom to talk about it. Movie to be determined. For more information about this SIG, contact Arlene Zimney.

Write Time for Poets

Thurs., Nov. 10. For more information, email Cath Mason.


Carolyn Clark is our Goodwill Ambassador, sending notes of support, congratulations and comfort on our behalf. If you or another OLLI member have a significant personal event, please let Carolyn know.

Send Us Your News

OLLILife wants to share topics of interest that pertain to OLLI-USF and other OLLIs in the country.

Send your article to ollinewsusf@gmail.com to reach your editors Sandy Buckley, Pat Dodge, Mary Ettinger, Kathy Palmer and Ara Rogers. If possible, please send a picture along with the article as pictures help tell the story.

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