Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a lifelong learning program designed for adults over the age of 50, will transition back to in-person classes and open a new location in September.
Lifelong learning programs were first established at the University of North Texas in 2009, and UNT became one of many national Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes in 2017 with a $100,000 gift from the Osher Foundation.
OLLI is designed to keep seniors intellectually stimulated through a variety of 90-minute classes taught at five satellite classrooms. Now, a sixth satellite location will open at the Community Event Center in Lantana this fall, said Stephanie Reinke, director of the institute.
“We want to make sure that seniors in North Texas have access to this great lifelong learning, and we’re the only program that will ever be in North Texas,” Reinke said. “We have to make sure that we’re capturing as many residents as we can.”
Classes were held virtually last year and this past semester after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to go remote.
Reinke said the program will bring back everything it offered before the shutdown, including special interest groups. More than 350 classes, which had been cut down during the pandemic, will return to an in-person setting taught by volunteering current and retired professors.
“Our members are there because they have a passion for learning,” Reinke said. “It creates a really powerful dynamic in the classroom to have people who want to learn and then people who want to teach.”
OLLI classes are not typical 16-week college courses with homework, tests or a grading system. Instead, classes are meant to explore new subjects that members are interested in, such as art history, gardening and cooking. Members also can participate in special interest groups, such as yoga or book club, that are meant for people to gather and share common interests rather than structured coursework.
Reinke said the most popular subjects among members is history of all kinds.
“A few of our members’ favorite classes have been taught by Dr. Laura Evans from the Art History Department who specializes in art crime,” Reinke said. “Other popular classes are ones taught by Grammy-award-winning saxophonist Brad Leali, who teaches a variety of different classes including one called ‘Jazz: How to Love it, Understand it, and Live it!’”
Members also will have an opportunity to travel as a group with professors for educational and cultural purposes. A trip to Europe is planned for this winter; then more trips will be offered next year. In the spring, a group from OLLI will travel to Amsterdam, Paris and London with Evans and get private lectures on thefts and forgeries that have happened at various museums.
Annual membership fees can start as low as $55. Those interested can pay $55 for the whole year and then pay $15 per class, or pay a $150 fee that includes every single class and special interest group. Discounted fees of $85 are also offered to the UNT Alumni Association, the UNT Retiree Association, veterans and their spouses and members of the Flower Mound and Frisco Senior Center.
Regardless of the type of membership they enroll with, members can attend OLLI courses at the University of North Texas, Good Samaritan Society Lake Forest Village, Robson Ranch Texas, Flower Mound Senior Center and The Grove at Frisco Commons. Information sessions are scheduled for August.