Thursday December 22, 2005

Lifelong Learning Program Endowed

The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded UD's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute a $1 million endowment, the first in the institute's history.

The San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded The University of Dayton's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute a $1 million endowment, which will help sustain the institute's programming for older adults for the long term.

The University's institute will join five other programs nationwide endowed by the Osher Foundation, which soon will endow four additional institutions.

"The University of Dayton has made a commitment to programming for older adults from the beginning," said Julie Mitchell, assistant dean for special programs and continuing education. "Yet this resource truly makes us solvent for the long term."

The institute will use funds generated by the endowment in part to establish a formal scholarship program. Funds also will be used for capital improvements, such as facility renovations and equipment upgrades. Since the number of people retiring each year is soon expected to double thanks to aging baby boomers, the institute also is in need of a long-term, permanent home. That issue that will be addressed in UD's next campus master plan, slated to be developed during the next two years. Most seminars currently are held in the McGinnis Center, an aging facility located in the University's south student neighborhood.

"This gives us the opportunity to continue current programming and make improvements to our offerings while not having to pass along all the expenses to our members, most of whom are on fixed incomes," Mitchell said.

The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded UD's institute two $100,000 grants for direct support. Following the first grant award in 2004, it was designated an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, joining a national network of learning programs for older adults established on 73 college and university campuses from Maine to Hawaii.

"The University of Dayton's lifelong learning program was selected for operational and endowment support by the Bernard Osher Foundation because of the steady development and expansion of the program over the past 10 years," Foundation President Mary Bitterman said. She added that UD's institute also was selected because of "the strong commitment of the University to community service and to providing essential facilities for the continuing education of seasoned adults, the active engagement of its volunteer governance group, and the high quality of the University leadership in supporting the program."

Funds from the two grants have been used to establish and maintain a shuttle program, which allows institute participants to park at UD Arena and ride to their classes, as well as for a marketing campaign that helped increase the institute's membership by 200 members.

Grant money also has helped the institute strengthen its curriculum by adding such offerings as a service learning seminar, in which participants worked with Dayton Public Schools students, and travel abroad programs to such locales as Italy and Spain. The latest grant, awarded this fall, will fund a market research study that will support the institute's current long-term strategic planning process.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, designed for adults 50 and older who have a continued interest in learning, celebrated its 10th anniversary in September 2004. Volunteers lead seminars, which are offered year-round on a variety of topics. For example, seminars will be offered this winter on such subjects as mountain dulcimer, conversational Spanish, the Civil War and chair massage for seniors. Each year, the institute serves approximately 1,500 older adults in the greater Dayton area.

The Bernard Osher Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 1977, which, among other activities, supports lifelong learning programs on college and university campuses. It established its first Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in early 2001.

For media interviews, contact Julie Mitchell at (937) 229-2605 or via e-mail at julie.mitchell@notes.udayton.edu.