Tuesday June 30, 2015

20 Years of Community Learning

The University of Dayton Lifelong Learning Institute is celebrating 20 years of adult learning, raising funds to construct a reflection garden at the institute's home in the 1700 South Patterson Building.

UDLLI offers adults 50 years and older seminars on a wide variety of topics, in an informal, flexible environment, with an emphasis on learning from each other, according to Julie Mitchell, director of continuing education and special programs. The institute offers fall, winter and spring seminars covering topics such as art, philosophy, film, finance, literature, sports, health and more, along with one-day sessions in the summer. Last year, more than 2,200 members attended an average of 4.8 seminars per person.

A committee develops the curriculum based on member requests, moderator expertise and variety. Moderators include University of Dayton professors and community professionals who lead peer-to-peer informal discussion seminars, she said.

"This is a partnership in the most genuine sense of the word," Mitchell said, crediting much of the institute's success to the members.

"It's amazing because many people from the institute's first days are still here with us today.  It shows their dedication to the program as well as the program’s great success."

A $2 million endowment in 2004 from the Osher Foundation helped support the development and expansion of the program. Today, the University of Dayton's program is the largest single campus-based program in the national Osher network.

In 2009, when the University purchased the former NCR World Headquarters — now called the 1700 South Patterson Building — the institute found a home with plenty of space for seminars, workshops, classes and discussion groups as well as easy-access parking.

Behind the building, and visible through its expansive windows, the reflection garden will include pathways, benches, a water feature and natural landscaping to promote self-reflection and awareness, she said.

Celebrating the anniversary and constructing the garden is a way to give back and thank members and members of the community who have supported the institute's development and growth, she said.

The institute is currently raising funds for the garden and planning an April 24 gala with a Roaring '20s theme.

For more information, visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or contact Julie Mitchell at jmitchell1@udayton.edu.

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