Osher Foundation Contributes $1 Million to OLLI Program at UVM

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By Jay Goyette

The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has awarded $1 million to the University of Vermont to support its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

OLLI of the University of Vermont is part of a national lifelong learning network for adults aged 50 and over, supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation, “architect” of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program operating on the campuses of 119 institutions of higher education from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. The UVM program was first launched in 2003, and a $1 million endowment from the Osher Foundation in October, 2006, permanently established the program in Vermont. The first OLLIs were established in Brattleboro, Central Vermont, Lamoille Valley, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, and Springfield. The Osher Foundation granted additional funds to the university in 2010 to establish the program on the UVM campus, in Burlington, as well.

This latest gift—also $1 million—is designated to endow and help sustain OLLI programs in Vermont.

“We are so very grateful to the Bernard Osher Foundation for their generous support of OLLI at UVM and are proud to be among the 119 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes on university and college campuses throughout the United States,” said UVM President Tom Sullivan when accepting the gift. He said the gift will help to sustain UVM’s vibrant OLLI programs statewide.

Dean of Continuing Education Cynthia Belliveau said, “This second endowment gift provides ongoing sustainability for our program in the future and helps cover administrative and programmatic costs. With this sustained revenue along with donations from our annual gift fund campaign, we can expand and enhance our program offerings, hold additional special events and trips, continue to attract quality instructors and highlight special presenters, and keep our program fees affordable.”

OLLI at UVM offers 250 lectures & courses every year on a variety of topics, including Vermont history, arts and literature, health and wellbeing, nature and environment, science and technology, politics and current events, travel and many others. Offerings this spring include courses as wide ranging as “Beginning Yoga,” “Spring Birding,” a reading workshop on U.S. poet laureates and a recently concluded travel program to Cuba. Vermont’s OLLI membership has grown from an initial membership of 100 in 2003 to more than 1,000 today, with another 2,000 individuals attending lectures on a walk-in basis. Further information about OLLI at UVM is available online.

This gift will be included in Move Mountains: The Campaign for The University of Vermont, which seeks to raise $500 million by June 2019 to support students, faculty, programs and facilities and assert UVM’s position as one of the nation’s best public research universities.

-Jay Goyette is the associate director of communications for the UVM Foundation and Alumni Association.

This piece was originally published by UVM Communications.