Academics and Research

Lifelong learning program keeps seniors engaged

Video: Fox31

Today’s lesson at the University of Denver’s Osher Lifelong Institute (OLLI) is on Cuba. One look around the room and you’ll notice this isn’t your normal college class. In fact, you have to be 50 or older just to enroll.

“We wanted to have a program that was available to anybody that was interested in lifelong learning,” says Vonnie Wheeler, OLLI executive director.

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Wheeler approached DU 20 years ago with the idea to create a program where retirees could continue to learn and grow. For $100 per term, students can take classes in subjects including history, science and economics. They are taught by facilitators, not professors. Eighty percent of the facilitators are students themselves.

“People who join OLLI, they are inquisitive, educated, they’re well-read, and I’ve learned so much from a lot of them,” says facilitator and student Sydney Myers said.

What started as a program with a handful of members has now has turned into one with thousands of participants, with three separate campuses — in Cherry Creek, Golden and Highlands Ranch.

“I think it’s fabulous for the community, especially the retired community,” says one student. “It keeps us off the street.”


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