OLLI offers Staunton classes

Starting in September, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia (OLLI at UVa) brings its distinguished program of university-level, short courses to Staunton.

Community leaders from the Valley are excited to welcome this impressive resource that offers intellectual stimulation to active adults, including the increasing number of retirees settling in this area.

Classes in the Valley initially will be held in The R.R. Smith Center for History and Art on South New Street in Staunton, with plans to expand to other sites as the Valley program grows. Fall courses cover such subjects as the modern presidency, the relationship between science and faith, the history of opera, memoir writing, and genealogy, as well as other thought-provoking topics.

OLLI’s courses are taught by active and retired college and university faculty and other specialists in their field, all of whom volunteer their time for the love of teaching and for the satisfaction of giving back to the community.

Tom MacAvoy, a retired UVa faculty member, past vice chairman of Corning Inc., and an OLLI instructor for eight years, said, “I teach at OLLI because I love the subject that I’m teaching, and I like teaching in general. I have been teaching one way or another all my life. I also enjoy OLLI very much as a student. I can attend courses that are taught by people who love their subject the way I love mine and learn new things and broaden out my experience.”

Participants appreciate the fact that there are no tests or grades, providing comfort to explore unfamiliar subjects. Because they feel the program enriches their lives, students come back again and again.

Bob Burnett, who has taken almost 50 courses in the last 10 years, said, “There’s is no other place I know that where for relatively small cost and time and tuition, if it be, you get so much variety of what’s going on from people that really know what they’re talking about, experienced in that field. I don’t know where else you could get that kind of experience and knowledge.”

Cont.OLLI at UVa is a nonprofit organization, formed in association with the University of Virginia in 2001. It is now one of more than 120 institutes supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation in a growing, national, lifelong-learning network. When OLLI began 10 years ago, there were 17 instructors and 98 participants in its initial spring semester. This past spring semester, there were 58 instructors and 580 participants. Over the past year (fall ’09 and spring ’10 semesters combined), OLLI registered nearly 1,300 members for 112 courses.

With the addition of the Valley Program, OLLI will be offering a total of 72 courses in the fall 2010, covering a full array of topics including history, literature, science, art, music, religion, and a variety of social and political issues. OLLI’s program is tailored to the lifestyles of active adults.

Classes are usually ninety minutes long and are held once a week during the day for three to six weeks.

More information may be found on the Internet at www.olliuva.org, by e-mailing olliuva@virginia.edu, or by calling the office toll-free at 877.861.9207.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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