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Donation to support lifelong learning institute

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


Photo caption below.
Photo by Donna Dinsmore
Larry Wolfe, Debra Mutchler and Tammy Langley paddle a canoe on the upper Tanana River. They were part of a group of ten OLLI members on one of the OLLI's summer excursions in August 2008.
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A $1 million gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation will provide a permanent and stable source of support for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The institute is an important part of UAF's community engagement efforts. The program serves the Interior's older adult population through a curriculum developed by the members according to their needs or interests. Classes are taught by volunteers and include UAF professors or other instructors with specialized expertise. Topics include art, computer technology, current events, health, history, literature, music and philosophy. Students meet for classes or study groups, but there are no tests or grades.

"OLLI at UAF provides numerous learning opportunities for adults 50 and older in the Fairbanks community," said institute director Barbara Lando. "In addition to offering 100 courses a year and a lecture series, we offer educational travel excursions during the summer months to other areas of Alaska such as Katmai National Park, Kotzebue and McCarthy. Members are from all backgrounds and share an intellectual curiosity and the experience of their generation."

The UAF lifelong learning program began eight years ago as Adventures in Lifelong Learning. In 2005, the Osher Foundation invited UAF to apply for an initial grant of $100,000. Additional $100,000 grants were awarded in 2007 and in 2008, making it possible to maintain low fees for participants and promote the establishment of lifelong learning programs in Anchorage and Juneau. In 2008, when the program's yearly membership exceeded 500, it became eligible for endowment funding. UAF's institute is among more than 100 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes found on more than 100 college campuses nationwide.

"I am proud of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UAF, which serves a thriving population," said UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers. "The endowment will provide our OLLI with funding in perpetuity. It is indeed an honor to be supported through the Osher Foundation with funds to endow our program."

The Bernard Osher Foundation also supports the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program at UAF. The program provides financial support to baccalaureate-degree-seeking students whose educations have been interrupted by five years or more.

CONTACT: Barbara Lando, OLLI director, at 907-474-6607 or via e-mail at olli@uaf.edu. Emily Drygas, acting development director, at 907-474-6631 or via e-mail at emily.drygas@uaf.edu. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.