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Penn State York’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is Under Way

12/21/2007 —

Curiosity never retires so people keep right on being interested in things, that’s almost a mantra for Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Paddon, and Gussie Petron, three 70 plus women who were bored and ready to make more of their retirement.  Thanks to their thirst for knowledge and mental stimulation, Penn State York now has an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, otherwise know as OLLI.

OLLI is a nonprofit, volunteer driven organization established to enrich the lives of mature adults living in York County by providing a variety of educational and social enrichment activities.  OLLI at Penn State York is one of more than 100 lifelong learning institutes across the nation that is supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation.    The grant was made available locally though Penn State which now has three OLLI sites, University Park, Mont Alto and York.   A grant of $4,000 was provided to York’s OLLI.  In addition to this funding, Penn State York just recently received word that OLLI has received a venture grant ($7,500) from the York County Community Foundation through the Fund for York County and the Chester Thomas Foundation Fund.

A chance meeting of the trio, who call themselves a cog (Charmaine, Olive, Gussie) in the wheel of learning, at the Jacobus Library was the beginning of what would later become OLLI.  They started talking about what could be done to provide adult learners with educational opportunities and more.  The idea of offering courses of interest during the day for adult learners without the stress of tests, requirements, and official textbooks appealed to them.  

“Having fun learning about a subject that has always interested you and course topics only limited by your imagination, is what we thought should be done,” said Olive Paddon, head of Penn State York’s OLLI Steering Committee.  “Once we did some research on the Web, talked about things and came up with a plan, we made some contacts and Penn State York seemed to be the place to start this adventure,” she said.   

The group met with continuing education representatives at Penn State York, Bea Landis and Beth Gill-MacDonald, and things began to fall into place.    York contacted the University and thanks to some quick hard work, in August York was named one of the University’s OLLI sites.   Since that time, Paddon, Petron, Kissinger and other OLLI volunteers have developed committees and started planning course offerings for April 2008.  In early November, Penn State York’s OLLI group found a home in the Bradley Building at the campus which houses the Continuing Education Department.   

Stimulating courses are the primary focus of OLLI. Courses being planned to begin in April include comparative religions, environment and ecology, math and music, holistic health, York County history, and Yorkers making it big.  OLLI courses are taught by volunteers who want to share their expertise and talents including retired Penn State faculty, hobbyists, artists, schoolteachers, and practicing professionals.  The six-week classes beginning in April are offered during the day and are 90 minutes in length. 

To cover costs, OLLI will have a $50 yearly membership fee that covers two semesters and a $20 fee for each course taken. Call 717- 771-4015 (or e-mail olli@yk.psu.edu) to receive registration and activity information.  

For adults who never want to stop experiencing life and learning, Penn State York invites you to be a part of a community that celebrates learning in a relaxed and accepting environment.  Learn more about this exciting new organization in York at an open house on Sunday, Jan. 27 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Conference Center at Penn State York.  OLLI is open to all adults who love to learn.

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