U-M Geriatrics Center receives $1M endowment gift from Bernard Osher Foundation

The process of learning does not end with graduation from school, but is a lifelong endeavor. The Bernard Osher Foundation, which supports lifelong learning around the country, has generously made a $1 million endowment gift (in two installments) to the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center to support the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at U-M.

The Foundation provides this level of funding only upon demonstrated success, and this is the second such endowment the Osher Foundation has made to OLLI, for a total of $2.2 million in support.

OLLI at U-M is a community program that offers a variety of educational opportunities for area residents age 50 and over. It evolved from a program called Learning in Retirement, which was established in 1987 by a dedicated group of Geriatrics Center social workers and volunteers, to encourage adults to continue their learning long after formal schooling is done. The success of Learning in Retirement gained recognition from the Osher Foundation, and the program was renamed in appreciation of the Foundation’s support.

OLLI has just completed its 25th year, and has over 1200 members. This year’s programs feature more than 150 courses, study groups, lectures, and day-long travel excursions to Midwest venues. Speakers are typically U-M faculty or community experts, and topics range from philosophy to politics to history to literature and the arts, and more.

David Blazevich, senior program officer of the Osher Foundation, expressed his enthusiasm. “We’re delighted to support all the fine work being done, and I congratulate everyone involved with the program. We applaud the institute’s continued success and many remarkable accomplishments over the past year,” he said.

The Osher Foundation sponsors lifelong learning institutes at 117 colleges and universities across the country, although OLLI at U-M is one of only three in the state of Michigan, and one of the few associated with a major Geriatrics Center. Created in 1977 by businessman Bernard Osher, the foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

OLLI at U-M activities are coordinated by a very dedicated and involved volunteer board, who have helped to guide the program to greater levels of excellence and additional support from the Osher Foundation.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with this second endowment, which underscores the quality of our offerings and is a reflection of the enthusiastic support of our members,” said current OLLI at U-M Board President Fran Weinstein.

Jeffrey Halter, M.D., director of the U-M Geriatrics Center, said, “I’m confident the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at U-M is among the very top programs of its kind in the country, and that’s due to the dedication of all its volunteers and staff. This generous endowment gift comes thanks to their high quality work.”

“We’re very excited for this recognition and support,” said Darlene Racz, Geriatrics Center associate director for Social Work and Community Programs. “This will help ensure that we can keep offering these educational opportunities for older adults in the community.”

The University of Michigan Geriatrics Center is a national leader in aging research and clinical care for older adults, as well as in the training of health professionals in the special needs of the elderly population. The center also has a strong mission of community service, providing social, cultural and educational programming through the Turner Senior Resource Center in Ann Arbor, where OLLI is located.

For more information about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at U-M, visit http://olli-umich.org, or contact Abigail Lawrence-Jacobson or Lisa Barton at 734-998-9351 or olli.info@umich.edu.

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