Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine

OLLI Newsletter

July and August 2022

Looking Ahead

OLLI Director Update

I hope this summer is a safe and relaxing one for all of you!

While we are in the midst of our summer session, OLLI is also looking forward to our fall roster of classes and workshops. I am delighted to share that our fall schedule is at the pre-pandemic level, with 60 offerings, including 31 remote experiences, 27 in-person classes/workshops, and 2 hybrid classes combining members in a Wishcamper classroom and participants joining from home. It is exciting that our faculty has stepped forward to offer such a cornucopia of learning opportunities, and I hope that you will find lots of tantalizing options. Our catalogs should be mailed out by late July, and you can also visit our website to explore fall offerings as well.

This past year has been one of experimentation and adjustment to the changing realities that COVID has presented to us. In preparation for our next year, the staff and advisory board will assess what is working and how we can enhance our strengths for the future. One unequivocal success is OLLI’s remote learning program, which is not only a safe and convenient option but also a favored choice for faculty and learners who enjoy the accessibility and intimacy of group learning on Zoom. Our in-person courses will all be offered on Fridays, in both the Wishcamper Center and Luther Bonney Hall—right across the sky bridge from the parking garage/Abromson Center. Our fall SAGE lecture series will also be offered as webinars for this coming academic year, as the flexible format allows attendees to engage with the speakers while some members prefer to watch the lectures at a time of their own choosing. As always, we are working to make the OLLI experience joyful and enticing.

As we turn the page from one fiscal year to the next, I would like to thank all the Advisory Board members (especially Sue Jennings, Gael McKibben, and Star Pelsue, who have completed their Board service), committee members, faculty, learning and classroom assistants, and office volunteers for their exceptional support of OLLI this past year. We are looking forward to a wonderful FY 22/23!

Donna Anderson.png

—Donna Anderson


In this edition . . .

  • Director's message (above)
  • Update from the board
  • Fall registration "Save the Date"
  • Volunteer appreciation luncheon (a success!)
  • SAGE returns this fall
  • OLLI’s mythic trip to Iceland
  • Trivia column
  • The OLLI History Book Club
  • Pass
  • September newsletter deadline

Advisory Board

Anne Cass, Chair

Paula Johnson, Vice-Chair

Karen Day, Secretary

Teaching & Learning Committee

Louise Sullivan, Chair

Gail Worster, Co-Chair

Membership & Nominations Committee

Pamela Delphenich, Chair

Social Relations Committee

Elizabeth Housewright, Chair

Chuck Remmel, Co-Chair

External Relations Committee

Marcia Weston, Chair

SAGE Committee

Claire Smith, Chair

Lynn Bailets

Peter Curry

Eileen Griffin

Sheldon Kaye

Georgia Koch

Tom Lafavore 

David Morton

Steven Piker

John Roediger

OLLI members are invited to attend Advisory Board meetings. Check with the Chair for time and place. 

OLLI Staff

Donna Anderson, Director 

Rob Hyssong, Program Coordinator

Megan Saul, Administrative Assistant

Anne Cardale, Program Director, Maine Senior College Network 

See our smiling faces

Update from the OLLI Advisory Board

OLLI runs on volunteers. I first heard this phrase when my crime-fiction writing spouse, Dick, and our cat, Tinker, and I moved to Maine in 2012—from a long-time close friend who was at the time the Chair of the OLLI Advisory Board. Her enthusiasm for the institution was infectious—so as soon as I retired in 2017, I volunteered.

I soon discovered the joys of meeting new people (always fun for me), learning new things (I’m a retired educator), and feeling as though I was contributing to the organization (engagement is key).

Now, after a few years of exploring the multiple opportunities available to OLLI member volunteers, I am honored to begin my tenure as Chair of the Advisory Board. I cannot help but think of my dear friend and past Chair, Janet, who died just last fall: she would be cheering me on and be as excited as I am by the adventure ahead.

Before the adventure begins, I thank the outgoing Chair, Sue Jennings, for her determined pursuit of teamwork, her unending support of her team members, her consistent joy in the work, and her willingness to help me with the transition.

Two other board members who are finishing their time with the board include Gael McKibben and Star Pelsue. Both Gael and Star are well known for their multiple efforts, their wide enthusiasm, and their deep engagement at OLLI: we thank them profusely for their contributions and commitment over their years as volunteers and board members.

We welcome six new highly-qualified members to the OLLI Board: Sheldon Kaye, Tom Lafavore, Chuck Remmel, Claire Smith, Louise Sullivan, and Marcia Weston. I am looking forward to the OLLI Board Annual Retreat in August and the strategic planning that will come from that discussion. And I anticipate effective work with the other two members of the Board’s Executive Committee: Vice-Chair Paula Johnson and Secretary Karen Day.

As always, the OLLI Office Staff (Donna, Rob, Megan, and Anne Cardale) stand ready to answer questions, help members, and support the volunteers. 

It’s only July, and we’re still in summer—and classes and workshops and a few pop-ups are ongoing, so please join us on campus or on Zoom. Or become a volunteer! I am also open to conversations and questions and can be reached through the OLLI office (780-4406) or by e-mail at anne.cass@maine.edu. (Or stop by on Monday or Friday morning this summer when I am behind the welcome desk!)


—Anne Cass

Advisory Board Chair

Save the Date!

Fall registration will begin Wednesday, August 17 for OLLI members.

Registration opens at midnight (Tuesday night into Wednesday morning) between 12:05 - 12:15 a.m.

Keep an eye out for a digital catalog later this week and a hard copy in the mail in early August. 

Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon a Success

(in spite of the weather!)

OLLI volunteers gather around a buffet

On a raw, rainy June 9, over fifty of OLLI’s intrepid volunteers gathered under a tent on USM’s lawn to celebrate yet another year of surviving and flourishing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The many forms of volunteerism were represented, and each member group was acknowledged: the OLLI Advisory Board; the five Board committees of Membership and Administration, Teaching and Learning, Social Relations, External Relations, and SAGE; and the SIG coordinators and the Office volunteers. 

For one faculty member, this was the first time she was “on campus,” the first time she was seeing any other OLLI member in person, and she was brimming with excitement! The same excitement and pleasure were enjoyed by all as the meeting and mingling went on before the official program began and during lunch.

Donna Anderson spoke and then introduced Jeanne Paquette, USM Vice-President, Corporate and Workforce Engagement, under which OLLI falls, who had already been mixing with the crowd. Outgoing USM Present Glenn Cummings stopped in and called OLLI’s volunteers “role models,” envied the range of OLLI offerings, and hoped that he will be able to participate after settling into his new job.

President Cummings speaks at the OLLI Volunteer Luncheon

Glenn Cummings speaks at the Volunteer Luncheon (picture above)

Though all volunteers bring special and diverse backgrounds and talents, and each is committed to OLLI, three were specifically honored this year for their outstanding contributions over the past several years. 

After retiring from a long-time career at L.L. Bean, Richard “Dick” Leslie became involved in OLLI, in various capacities from student to volunteer committee person to Board member. Many remember him wearing crazy hats and selling raffle tickets between classes at Wishcamper. Others remember him as running the huge book sales held for several years. Perhaps unknown to many, he authored an 18-page analysis of a major survey about all aspects of OLLI activities, from which the Board was able to develop a three-year Strategic Plan. This year he did the same for another survey that is useful to the Board for future thought and planning.

Several years ago, Star Pelsue couldn’t wait to become old enough to join OLLI. In a long journey from being a scientist with a degree in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science; a Developmental Therapist working with autistic children; a very active volunteer with Maine’s political arm of AARP (and received the 2020 Andrus Award, its highest and most prestigious recognition); docent at the Victoria Mansion; and volunteering at the Ronald MacDonald House, she finally landed at OLLI’s door. This is her last year chairing the SAGE and External Relations committees. With her long and detailed experience with Zooming, she committed to the emergency training of faculty so that Zoomed classes could continue to be presented to OLLI members when face-to-face classes were not possible. She has continued to be a techie for those unsure of using Zoom. And it is she who introduced many members to the monthly popup games such as Trivia, Taboo, and Mad Gab from her extensive experience in playing with friends around the country. 

Sue Jennings, the outgoing Chair of the OLLI Advisory Board, also came from a science background. As a Medical Sociologist in Boston, she developed software that would evaluate the delivery of health care. Then, a few years after moving to Los Angeles and becoming a VP of the company she was working for, she was headhunted by Pfizer Health Solutions. Disease Management software became her focus. Only a few years ago after arriving in Maine, she was told that OLLI was where the action was, and if she wanted to know anything, she should join. Immediately upon doing so, she signed up for her first class and found out the many aspects of this senior college’s offerings. As an inveterate volunteer in other dimensions of her previous life, she has worked on “Wrinkle in Time” and “One Book–One Community,” chaired the 20th Anniversary Celebration committee, and has become the coordinator of the Arts and Crafts Special Interest Group. Plus, in her leadership capacity, she has pulled OLLI through these years of great stress, strain, and many challenges, not the least of which we have all struggled with growing accustomed to passport-photo-sized faces on-screen rather than face-to-face interaction.

A surprise performance, planned by the OLLI Ukes!, was struck down at the last minute by a COVID attack.

One last note: the large, profuse flower box created by Donna, Grand Prize of the raffle that was ongoing during the program, was won by Terry Foster. This was particularly appropriate, for he is the Grand Master of OLLI Volunteers, the longest-participating volunteer. It was he who, in 1995, was at the very beginning of plans for an adult, peer learning group at USM that evolved into the founding of OLLI in 2001. That led to the establishment of OLLIs all across the country. He has been on our volunteer faculty list ever since.

OLLI volunteers talk at the luncheon
OLLI volunteers Karen Day and Helen White smile
OLLI Volunteers clap for a speaker

—Gael McKibben

SAGE Returns to Virtual Webinar Programming this Fall with Excellent Speakers

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute presents SAGE Lecture Series Fall 2022 from September 13 to November 1

Yes, that’s right. After a session trying in-person SAGE programs at The Point in South Portland, our Fall and Spring series will return to Zoom Webinar programs. Hopefully by Fall 2023 SAGE will be able to return to Hannaford Hall on campus, but that depends on whether the construction in the back of Wishcamper Hall is sufficiently complete and the status of COVID variations is under control to meet the concerns of OLLI members. 

Here’s what that means for OLLI members who attend SAGE programs.

  1. You can wake up on Tuesday mornings, grab your coffee and breakfast, and connect your laptop or another device to the Webinar by 9:29 a.m.
  2. You can keep your PJs on and still participate in the Webinar while enjoying your preferred coffee and pastry.
  3. You can still ask questions of speakers.
  4. You can still choose to buy the entire series of eight programs for the cost of five.
  5. You can still select individual programs to purchase if you wish.
  6. You can still tell your OLLI friends after a program—or even SAGE committee members—that you really liked a particular program that you didn’t expect to like.

Here’s what you can see and virtually participate in this fall at SAGE:

Two terrific book-end programs will begin and end the Fall series

The opening program on September 13 will feature Dr. John Devlin, who recently returned home after a five-month stint with Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan. On November 1, Bill McKibben, noted American environmentalist, author, and journalist, as well as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and founder of the Third Act, will report on the climate change battle.

Challenges facing immigrants in the early 20th and 21st Centuries 

Michael Connolly, retired St. Joseph’s professor, will explore through family stories the life of Irish Immigrants in Portland at the turn of the 20th Century; and Georges Budagu Makoko, publisher of Amjambo Africa will explore the challenges facing asylum seekers and immigrants in 21st Century 

Efforts to address homelessness and the challenges facing mental health service providers 

Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Ryan Fecteau, will discuss the affordable housing crisis throughout the state. Over the past several decades, when mental health patients have been released from institutions to be served in their communities, often on the streets, Shalom House has been one of the most distinguished providers of such services. Mary Haynes-Rogers, Executive Director; and Jill Silander, Development Director, will discuss the challenges faced by providers of mental health services.

The language of gender identity

Dr. Idella Glenn, USM Vice-President for Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact will explore the language of gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation. 

What the decline of blue herons tells us

Danielle D’Auria, Wildlife Biologist of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, will share the work of the Heron Observation Network in understanding the decline of great blue herons.

The Fall 2022 SAGE Brochure should arrive in your mailboxes within the next couple of weeks.

—SAGE Committee

OLLI’s Mythic Trip to Iceland

This May, an intrepid group of OLLI travelers went to Iceland for ten days. Most of the group took the spring pre-trip course that familiarized us with Iceland’s history, culture, literature, geology, and natural history. Our 39 travelers were able to experience the mythic dimension of Iceland along with geological perspectives provided by Dr. Irwin Novak. Stepping back into the Viking past, considering the country’s contemporary resilience, and exploring the primal landscape of glaciers, lava fields, steam vents, geysers, hot springs, and ancient volcanos created enduring impressions on the travelers.

Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

  • After a lively walking tour of Reykjavik, an intrepid group of 16 made our way for an evening swim at Reykjavik’s “Swim Palace,” where we soaked in hot tubs, swam in stunning indoor and outdoor pools, and chatted with Icelandic families enjoying the warm water.

  • During “Saga Day,” we went to Borgarnes, where we visited the Children’s Waterfall, the Settlement Center (with very creative exhibitions about Egil’s Saga and the Viking settlement of Iceland), and the site of poet Snorri Strulson’s homestead, dipping our fingers in the stone hot tub reportedly built by Snorri.

  • The “Golden Circle” did not disappoint, with stops at the stunning Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park (where the continental plates are pulling apart and where the Viking parliament was held), the Gullfoss waterfall (where we got soaked by the mist), and Geyser National Park with its bubbling mud pots, steaming vents, and spectacular geyser. We ended the day with some yummy tomato soup at the Friðheimar greenhouse and saw a fascinating demonstration of the unique gaits of Icelandic horses

  • The Snæfellsnes Peninsula north of Reykjavik gave us our first glimpse of a glacier, iconic mountains, and an unforgettable cruise on Breiðafjörður Bay, where we saw unique sea birds nesting on rocky islands. Some travelers went down an extinct lava tube, their way lit by lights on their hardhats.

  • On our way to Vik, we stopped at a geothermal plant to learn about how Iceland is harnessing the power of its turbulent geology. We then had a memorable visit to the Lava Exhibition Center, with very engaging high-tech displays talking about the active volcanos in Iceland—many of which were visible from the center’s observation tower. The moss covering the lava fields was now vibrant green, and we stayed in a hotel between the glacier-covered highlands and the basalt cliffs and black lava beaches along the turbulent North Atlantic. Special treats included visits to the Skógar Museum and the Icelandic Lava Show, where lava rocks are re-melted, and hot molten lava flowed down in a specially designed chute right in front of us.

  • On our last day in Vik we ventured out to the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, where we took an amphibious cruise around icebergs calved from the nearby glacier. Fragments of the vibrant blue icebergs drifted along the current, turning the dense ice crystal clear. Many ice “gems” end up on the black lava Diamond Beach, where we braved the wind and light rain to walk along the swift-flowing glacial river.

  • Our final day brought us to either the Perlan Center—a fabulous natural history museum—or the Blue Lagoon, where many of us luxuriated in the mineral-rich opaque blue water. Among the spa treats were a silica mud facial and a beverage from the bar set into the lagoon. Deeply relaxed, we returned to our hotel for a final night in the magical Icelandic twilight—sunset coming around 10:30 p.m. and sunrise waking us around 4:00 a.m.  

Visiting Iceland in the spring meant that we saw many young lambs, nesting birds, early spring wildflowers, and horses out in green fields. We sampled skyr (a very soft Icelandic yogurt-like cheese), lots of very fresh fish, and Iceland’s famous hot dogs. The bravest among us sampled fermented shark. The spectacular landscape punctuated by small farms and isolated white-and-red churches still haunts the mind, making the trip deeply moving and very satisfying for our adventure-loving group.

—Donna Anderson

History Helps Us Makes Sense of Our World 

OLLI's History Book Club

group members met in person to vote for the following seasons reading choices

Both history buffs and newcomers are welcome to this OLLI group of engaged readers for a monthly book discussion. In future months, the book choices cover the world—Paris, the Adriatic, Ukraine, Rome, India, and much more. Book suggestions are submitted by members and voted on in the spring. There’s no obligation to read all the books or to attend regularly. 

Currently, we meet via Zoom, with an average attendance of 18 to 20. OLLI members are invited to join the history book club, which meets at 3:15 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month, September through June. To join the e-mail list, contact Sue Gesing at SusanGesing@gmail.com or Dawn Leland at LelandDM@gmail.com

Fall 2022–Spring 2023 Books 

  • Sept. 8, The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris, Colin Jones
  • Oct. 13, The Trials of Harry S. Truman: The Extraordinary Presidency of an Ordinary Man, 1945–1953, Jeffrey Frank
  • Nov. 10, Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age, Robert D. Kaplan
  • Dec. 8, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America, Russell Shorto
  • Jan. 12, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, Serhii Plokhy
  • Feb. 9, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, Kyle Harper
  • Mar. 9, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, Jon Meacham
  • Apr. 13, Traitor: A History of American Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Trump, David Rothkopf
  • May 11, Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire, Alex Von Tunzelmann
  • June 8, Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas, Jennifer Raff

History Book Club Members Say…

“…historians and former professors and people who just want to learn about history. Throw in a few scientists, educators, and social workers, and there is bound to be a lively discussion from a variety of perspectives... discussion, insights, viewpoints, and disagreements are always thought-provoking and informative.”

—Gretchen Greenberg


“The diversity of the members’ backgrounds and interests makes for a stimulating discussion. I always learn something.”

—Michael Torlen  


“The OLLI History Book Club was one of the first activities I joined when I retired at the beginning of 2022, and I am so happy to be a part.… [I]t has encouraged me to expand my reading…and the discussions are always lively and thought-provoking.

—Melissa H. Murphy

Trivia Column

Trivia nigtht logo.png
  1. When Elizabeth Housewright, our Trivia host, stacks all of her trivia cards, how many inches tall is the pile?
  2. Why did the numbers 10, 2, and 4 appear on the Dr Pepper bottle?
  3. What is the wettest place in the United States?
  4. What was Jesse James doing when he was shot and killed?
  5. What three sporting events are won by moving backward?
  6. Who advised, “Go West, young man, and grow with the country”?

Scroll down for the answers!

Join us for these upcoming Trivia Nights with our hosts Elizabeth Housewright and Star Pelsue!

Monday, July 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m.

Register online!

Trivia Answers!

Elizabeth stands next to a stack of trivia cards almost as tall as she is

1. When Elizabeth Housewright, our Trivia host, stacks all of her trivia cards, how many inches tall is the pile?

(50 inches)

See the picture to the right. 

2. Why did the numbers 10, 2, and 4 appear on the Dr Pepper bottle?

(As part of their slogan in the 1920s and 1930s: “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4.”) 

The slogan encouraged people to drink Dr. Pepper for a quick source of energy at these times of day.

3. What is the wettest place in the United States?

(Kauai, Hawaii)

Mt. Waialeale on Kauai, Hawaii, gets approximately 460 inches of rain a year—an average of more than an inch a day!

4. What was Jesse James doing when he was shot and killed?

(Straightening, or dusting, a picture on the wall of his home)

The governor of Missouri had put together a reward so large that Robert Ford and his brother, members of Jesse’s gang, turned traitor. On April 4, 1882, Jesse James turned to the wall to straighten or dust a picture after breakfast. Ford shot him in the back of the head, instantly killing him.

5. What three sporting events are won by moving backwards?

(Tug of war, back stroke, crew/rowing)

6. Who advised, “Go West, young man, and grow with the country”?

(John B. L. Soule)

Horace Greeley is generally credited with having coined the often-quoted phrase “Go West, young man,” but many observers point to John B.L. Soule, an Indiana journalist, as the actual originator of the phrase. Although Greeley used the phrase “Go West, young man, go West” in an editorial in 1865, Soule, indeed, had written “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country” earlier, in an editorial in the Terre Haute (Indiana) Express in 1851. Greeley, however, long an ardent advocate of western expansion, was anything but a stranger to the notion of the promise of the American West, and in the New York Tribune in 1841 he wrote, “Do not lounge in the cities! There is room and health in the country, away from the crowds of idlers and imbeciles. Go west, before you are fitted for no life but that of the factory.”—Source: Researcher’s Note, Encyclopedia Britannica, for its article about Horace Greeley. 


Passages: Bernard Zike

Bernard Zike died in late May. He was a member of the Bicycle & Nosh Special Interest Group at OLLI. Bernard was a lifelong, avid cyclist, using his bike for pleasure, and also for errands and shopping.

The last sentence in his obituary is: “When thinking about Bernard, please picture him riding a bike down the road with a big smile on his face.”

Read Bernard's full obituary 

OLLI Newsletter

Are you considering submitting an article to the OLLI Newsletter? Get in contact with us!


Email ollinews@maine.edu 

to submit your piece. 


Tim Baehr, Editor

Don King, Editor Emeritus

Deadline for the September issue

is August 15

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