Turning Life into Art - Stories of Resilience from OLLI at CSU Chico
Great TV! OLLI at the University of Pittsburgh
In Our Own Backyard: Distance Learning with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and OLLI at University of Minnesota
OLLI at Auburn University Celebrates 25 Years

Greetings from the NRC    June 2015

After a nine month gestation, behold the re-birth of the monthly OLLI Newsletter. Along with my two new NRC colleagues, Manager of Operations Stacey Hart and Assistant Director of Adult Learning Diane Venzera, we present this first monthly edition that holds a resemblance to the fine work of the original NRC team, but with some new traits that we hope will prove charming and helpful to you. 

The NRC Team
The audience for the OLLI Newsletter is broad: directors, staff, deans and administrators, volunteers, advisory leaders and members/students. For that reason, our aim is to offer a broad look at the vibrant network of Osher Institutes. Importantly, we want to accentuate the positives. 

Successful efforts of all sorts will be highlighted each month. But we're also introducing new elements of on-going interest to OLLIs: a  Dear OLLI feature, offering answers to frequently asked questions (someti mes sensitive, always helpful); The OLLI Traveler, spotlighting a few educational travel programs usually within the OLLI network, but sometimes an idea from outside sources, that we might find inspiring for local adaptation; an OLLIs In The News section, providing some of the best stories from local OLLI units, with links to full electronic versions of the pieces when available; and a short Did You Know? feature that notes interesting facto ids about the Osher Network, active aging topics or data points that could become part of our daily conversations. 

With all of these items, we want this monthly newsletter to be about you - your programs, your interests, your stories. Please forward us your ideas for content. Get us on your media mailing lists. Send us success stories, including pictures (we love those). Our editor will be Stacey Hart but we'll work together to compile and curate this newsletter exclusively through the Constant Contact email system, allowing you to opt-in, opt-out or change your delivery preferences. 

We appreciate your continued readership and support of this collective newsletter. Don't be shy, let us know  how we are doing and how we can improve. Watch for a new edition the first week each month. 

Happy June!


OLLI at CSU Chico

Turning Life into Art - Stories of Resilience

OLLI at CSU, Chico is delving into the world of performance art through a collaboration with Chico Performances, a campus entity presenting more than 40 public events each year. Ann Nikolai, Program Director of OLLI at CSU, Chico, says the partnership has enriched members' experience by incorporating them directly into the campus Artist-in-Residency experience. "We are no longer just watching and appreciating art; we are part of the end product," Nikolai explained.

Last spring, OLLI members were selected to participate in one-on-one interviews with members of the San Francisco-based dance company, Joe Goode Performance Group. The words and emotions from these interviews were later transformed by the dance troupe into a 60-minute performance called Resilience.

More than 350 OLLI members, friends, and family members attended the performance. Joe Goode, who is 68, and the company's artistic director said, "The idea behind our work is to get down to the nitty-gritty of human beings. We thought the topic of resiliency would be interesting to work with because of increasing social isolation we face as we age, as well as growing health concerns-all of which are huge life issues."  The recorded conversations revolved around aging and how one copes with the increasing challenges we face as our bodies start to fail us, even in small ways.

While this was a thrilling opportunity for OLLI Chico, Mr. Joe Goode, has suggested he would like to continue the project with other OLLIs in the national network as his dance company tours the country. If you're interested in learning more about the project and how to get involved, contact Ann Nikolai at [email protected] or 530-898-5858.

Submitted By - Ann Nikolai, OLLI at CSU Chico

OLLI at University of Pittsburgh 

Great TV Coverage!

Click on the photo above to watch!

Jennifer Engel, Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Pittsburgh shared this segment from CBS station KDKA's Pittsburgh Today program. In the five minute segment, two members, along with Jennifer, talk about their program and promote an upcoming open house for the summer term. Does your town have a local news show that you could target for coverage like this? Be on the look-out for well-spoken members, like Carmen and Mike in Pittsburgh, to help you tell the story! For more information contact Jennifer at [email protected] or 412-624-7072.


Submitted By - Jennifer Engel, OLLI at University of Pittsburgh 

OLLI at University of Minnesota

In Our Own Backyard: Distance Learning with the Smithsonian American Art Museum 

Picture a typical OLLI class, participants take their seats facing a large screen at the front of the room, which shows an image of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. At 10:00 am, a docent from the museum appears on the screen and introduces herself. OLLI members reply with a cheerful "good morning," and the class begins.

This not-so-typical course is made possible by a real-time video conference link between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and OLLI at the University of Minnesota. As the docent at the Smithsonian talks about the pieces of art shown on the screen, she can see participants in the Minneapolis classroom, ask questions, and respond to comments and questions from OLLI members.

The OLLI American Art course offered in Spring 2015, which focused on art from the Civil War period and the 1930s and 40s, was the third video-conference course presented in cooperation with the Smithsonian. These exciting courses have resulted from an innovative partnership between OLLI's National Resource Center and the Smithsonian. In 2013, museum staff contacted the national office and asked if OLLI would be interested in participating in the American Art Museum's distance-learning program, Artful Connections, which had traditionally been offered to schools.

The collaboration between OLLIs and the Smithsonian American Art Museum has grown steadily, and by 2015, 18 different OLLI groups have signed up for an American Art course. Topics for each of the courses, for example, America's Signs and Symbols, Latino Art and Culture, are chosen from the basic list of the Artful Connections program for schools but "turned up for an adult audience," with more "nuance and depth," in the words of Elizabeth Deines, Distance-Learning Coordinator.

OLLI at the U of M has further enriched the Smithsonian collaboration by adding another partner: the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Following the three-session Smithsonian course, class members make a trip to the MIA to look at art related to the topics that have been discussed. Museum docents who are also OLLI members lead in-depth discussions of the paintings that hang on the walls in our outstanding local museum rather than in Washington, D.C.

"This collaboration among the Smithsonian, OLLI, and the MIA is a wonderful way to use technology to connect the MIA's collection to others in the U.S. The program wouldn't be a success without the hard work and dedication of docents Kay Miller and Emily Shapiro who attended the OLLI class and coordinated with the instructor from the Smithsonian to make the class's visit to the MIA deeply linked to the themes and content of the course," - Juline A. Chevalier, head of interpretation and participatory experiences, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum program is only one example of the learning opportunities made possible by modern interactive technology. OLLI Executive Director Sandra Stevenson says that video-conference courses "bring content from across the country into the OLLI classroom and allow us to apply what we learn in our own backyard." For more information, contact Sandra at [email protected] or 612-625-9364.

Submitted By - Sandra Stevenson, OLLI at University of Minnesota 

OLLI at Auburn University 
Celebrating 25 Years


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn University is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with special activities and events throughout the year!  In commemoration of this milestone, OLLI at Auburn hosted a celebration on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 that included a presentation by Dr. Wayne Flynt, a noted historian, author, and Professor Emeritus from the Department of History at Auburn University. 

Dr. Flynt's presentation on Aging and Lifelong Learning tied in closely with another highlight of the OLLI at Auburn anniversary program that involved many OLLI members providing oral histories.  The oral histories were produced by an Auburn University Communication and Journalism student.  The student's internship with OLLI at Auburn was a part of his senior project that is required for graduation.  "This was a great way to connect with our traditional students on campus," noted OLLI at Auburn Director, Linda Shook.  A copy of the oral histories will also be given to Auburn University Special Collections and Archives.

Most recently, in recognition of this important milestone for OLLI at Auburn, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley received a Commendation for providing exceptional service to the state's older adult citizens by providing academic not for credit programs for those 50 years and beyond. As you can see in the photo, several OLLI leaders were able to visit with Governor Bentley at the state capital where he officially signed the Commendation!

Submitted By - Linda Shook, OLLI at Auburn University 

NRC Updates

Meet the New National Resource Center Staff

Hello OLLI Colleagues!        

As the new Manager of Operations for the National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes I look forward to working and collaborating with each of you. I come from the University of California Study Abroad Program and am excited for my new role in the field of lifelong learning, as well as finding enjoyment in the warm winters of Chicago! I have many years of experience planning large scale conferences for the students, faculty and administrators at Fielding Graduate University and I hope to make this year's conference a fantastic experience for all of you. 

Much of my work for the NRC and all of you will focus on network communications and technologies; data collection and analysis; and coordination and administration of our National Conferences. I've already had the opportunity to email with many of you and I hope that you will all feel free to be in touch at any time, and especially be sure to keep me in the loop about the exciting happenings at your OLLI. 

Looking forward, 




I am the new Assistant Director of Adult Learning for the National

Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. This is a newly created position so I look forward to seeing what it can become. Through collaboration and communication, I will develop online resources that will be of benefit to you as you lead your OLLIs. I will also be working with Stacey and Steve on the creation of a wonderful conference experience that will be renewing, engaging and informative.

I have lived in the Chicago area for many, many years and come from a consulting/training background. Through my previous work I have extensive experience with planning and facilitating conferences, creating resources and curricula for both children and adults and writing small group materials. I look forward to connecting with you so that the materials created will be something that will be of benefit to all. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas and I look forward to seeing what we can create together.

All the best,


  Charlotte, NC - October 2015
conferenceNational Conference Update

Check the NRC website for National Conference updates including:


The Ballantyne Hotel

The 2015 Osher Institute National Conference will commence in the late afternoon  on Monday, October 12th. Don't miss out on an engaging opening session!

 Executive Chef J. Kelly Morrow and  his staff will treat us to a taste of  North  Carolina BBQ from  competing eastern and western NC.

  OLLI Directors will soon receive a link to a survey of potential session topics for the conference, we want your i nput.

Also keep an eye out for the online conference registration link that will be posted to the NRC website in late July.

Wondering where you're headed?  Here's a link to the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, NC.

 basecamp New Basecamp Committee

The NRC has formed a committee of volunteers consisting of OLLI staff and members, all users of Basecamp, who will define the guidelines of Basecamp OLLI. The group will have its first meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd to begin reviewing the core purpose and uses of Basecamp so that we can all get maximum value from this collaborative tool. More will be shared with everyone in the Osher Network as this committee works on the project.

The OLLI Insider

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear OLLI

Dear OLLI,

We would like to have another staff member (or volunteer) attend the upcoming National Conference beyond the invitation to two people from our OLLI. Would this be possible?

Sincerely, Just Askin'

Dear Just Askin',

The NRC and the Osher Foundation work to keep the National Conference as personal and intimate as possible (not easy given nearly 250 guests). Program quality becomes harder to maintain with more than two guests per OLLI. Beyond the expenses, hotel capacity could be stretched in Charlotte. In fairness, if open to all, this location within driving distance from more than 20 OLLIs would draw many more attendees. That being said, there have been just a few exceptions in the past - particularly for special circumstances such as staff transitions. In those exceptions, the "+1" has been charged the costs of attending the conference, which totals about $1000 per attendee. If you have a special situation that you think merits an exception, please have a personal conversation with Steve Thaxton.

Regards, OLLI


Dear OLLI,

What once was a little insider term of "FIP", for formerly-important-person, has become commonly used at our OLLI. I sometimes wonder if members and volunteers feel belittled by it. But lately, I've been hearing members use it about themselves too! What's your take on this? Disparaging or just cute?

Sincerely, P.C.

Dear P.C.,

When a FIP of British origin hears this reference, they might have a slight feeling of annoyance (a pip). Others might consider it a form of getting lip. Some may yip hearing the reference but there are certainly those who consider being a FIP, hip. Personally, I would tip toward keeping my mouth zipped because no matter who our members might have previously been, they are VIPs at OLLIs.

Maybe the time has come for the term FIP to R.I.P?

Regards, OLLI

Have a question for Olli? Please send it care of Stacey Hart at the NRC: [email protected]

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

OLLI at the University of Georgia

The Best of Croatia: A Coastal Voyage by Yacht

Arrive in Split for two days of exploration of a city with attractions and heritage dating back to Roman times.  Embark on a 7-day cruise by chartered yacht to discover the turquoise waters, idyllic coves and islands of Croatia's Dalmatian coast, an adventure that leads to rural villages and breathtaking national parks and into fascinating history. Disembark for two more days on land to discover attractions and heritage of Montenegro.  This tour is operated by Road Scholar.

Dates: Sep 26 - Oct 8, 2015


OLLI at University of Alaska Fairbanks

Talkeetna: The First 99 Years

Both human and natural history are the focus of this four-day excursion to beautiful downtown Talkeetna. Check-in on Thursday will be at the Swiss Alaska Inn, which provides lodging for your three-night stay. Through the Northern Susitna Institute's "TALKeetna" presentation you'll learn about pre-contact Dena'ina culture, homesteading life, and the history of Denali mountaineering, as they review the past 99 years of this little village at the edge of the wilderness. Excursions include a "Three River Tour" with Mahay's Riverboat Adventures, a guided naturalist tour of the Talkeetna Lakes Trail as well as tours of the local historical museum, a blacksmith studio and the Don Sheldon Hangar. The Alaska Folk School will provide hands-on sampler classes led by talented craftspeople, and you'll enjoy hanging out with the locals during the "Live at Five" summer concert series. 

Dates: Jul 30 - Aug 2, 2015



College of the Atlantic

The Best of Acadia Retreat

College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine, invites you to participate in an outstanding five day residential summer program of learning and recreation on the beautiful coast of Maine. Based at the College's waterfront campus, Ted Koffman, a former Maine State Representative and retired Maine Audubon Executive Director, will lead you in daily substantive talks with expert speakers. You will partake in community meals with wholesome cuisine, take guided local adventures, explore the best that Mount Desert Island has to offer - the special places of Acadia National Park, top-notch museums, historical gardens, and the spectacular seascapes of Frenchman Bay. On Wednesday evening we are honored to host a talk by former US Senator George Mitchell.  All of this you will share with other life-long learners and thoughtful citizens deeply interested in the world.

Dates: July 12 - 18, 2015  

Early Bird rates have been extended through June for all OLLI members - use this discount code when registering:  OLLI2015  - For more information visit:

The Best of Acadia Retreat or contact 1-800-597-9500

Interesting Facts to Know and Talk About
didyouknowDid You Know...?
  • The total combined membership count for all 119 Osher Institutes currently totals nearly 145,000
  • The median membership count of an OLLI is 1,075
  • OLLIs offer programs in nearly 300 US communities (297 as of 2014 year-end) 

  Career Openings in the OLLI Network
jobboardJob Board

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


Administrative Program Assistant Volunteer Coordinator for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Southern Oregon University


OLLI Events Coordinator

University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Director of Financial Planning and Analysis

University of Washington Medical Center