Largest gift ever received in connection with a program at the Waterbury campus
Released April 28, 2011
The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has awarded the University of Connecticut a $1 million endowment to support its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Investment returns on these endowment funds will be used to sustain lifelong learning programming for older adults at OLLI, which was established with an initial grant from the Osher Foundation in 2006 and has offered classes on UConn’s Waterbury Campus since 2007.
Now in its fifth year, OLLI at UConn provides lifelong learners with opportunities to engage in intellectual development, cultural stimulation and social interaction in a university environment. The program, which has served over 1,100 individuals from 75 cities and towns, began offering a full schedule of courses, special events, lectures and trips in 2007. It currently serves more than 700 members.
In announcing the gift, Mary G.F. Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, noted that, “The nature and variety of educational opportunities that the program offers is impressive. From personal enrichment courses on philosophy, literature and history to practical offerings on health, nutrition and computer usage, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn consistently provides a diverse array of engaging learning activities for seasoned adults in Connecticut.”
The University of Connecticut was invited to apply for this endowment after successfully developing the program with four operating grants from the Osher Foundation. With this latest award the total amount of funding provided by the Foundation is nearly $1.5 million.
Since January 2010, OLLI at UConn held more than 100 courses and over 35 special events, workshops and travel programs. More than 80 courses and events are planned for the spring and summer of 2011. Annual basic membership is $60, with most 4- and 8-session courses ranging in price from $20-50.
Dr. William J. Pizzuto, executive director of the UConn-Waterbury campus, said that strong support from the community and regional partners was an indication to the Osher Foundation that the program is ready to expand for even greater impact in its important work with older adults.
“OLLI has developed a strong reputation in the region and throughout the state,” said Pizzuto. “Civic leaders, organizational leaders and community members recognize the program and have publicly acknowledged our work. This is a wonderful affirmation of the dedication of our staff and volunteers, and proof that learning doesn’t need to end when one leaves school.”
UConn faculty provide expertise to the OLLI program in advisory capacities and as leaders of special programming and courses. The UConn-Waterbury campus has several faculty members who specialize in aging, further enhancing the power of the program and benefiting faculty and the OLLI members alike.
According to Brian Chapman, OLLI Director at Waterbury, the Osher Foundation’s approach generally is to provide seed funding at a sustaining level in the formative years of a program and then to promote long-term establishment through endowment, as in this case, while encouraging the OLLI to build new streams of revenue. To that end, a fundraiser and celebration of OLLI at UConn’s Fifth Year is planned for June 27, 2011, at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT, with details to follow.
ABOUT THE OSHER LIFELONG LEARNING INSTITUTE AT UCONN
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Connecticut is an academic cooperative designed to provide mature adults with opportunities for intellectual development, cultural stimulation and social interaction. OLLI at UConn is the only Osher Institute in Connecticut. Its programs are centered around classes developed and taught by members who volunteer their time and talents to share their knowledge and interests with their peers. The OLLI program also sponsors special events featuring noted authors, scholars and experts in respected professional fields. OLLI at UConn exemplifies public engagement in mission and in practice. (http://www.waterbury.uconn.edu/osher/)
ABOUT THE OSHER FOUNDATION
The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The Foundation provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to re-entry students. It also benefits programs in integrative medicine in the United States and Sweden, including centers at the University of California, San Francisco; Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. In addition, the Foundation supports a national lifelong learning network for seasoned adults. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, operating on the campuses of 117 institutions of higher education from Maine to Hawaii, have a National Resource Center at the University of Southern Maine. Finally, an array of performing arts organizations, museums, and selected educational programs in Northern California and in Mr. Osher’s native state of Maine receive Foundation grants. The Foundation has a nine-member Board of Directors which is chaired by the Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in California. (www.osherfoundation.org)