To provide intellectually stimulating, affordable, non-credit learning opportunities to people 50 and older in community settings throughout Vermont.
“It’s the belief of Bernard Osher that people are living longer and that this longer life should be coupled with increased learning. The more engaged seasoned adults are, the more constructive citizens they will be,” said Mary Bitterman, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Foundation.
“Retirees don’t simply want to play golf and drink wine. They want to sit down with other people and talk about the issues of our time.”
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Vermont
In January 2003, the University of Vermont received a generous grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation to establish Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes that provide courses and programs for Vermonters age 50 and over. The University received three subsequent grants followed by a $1 million endowment in October, 2006 and a second $1 million endowment gift in 2016 to permanently establish the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UVM. Institutes now exist in nine Vermont communities in Brattleboro, Newport/Derby/Stanstead, Central Vermont, Lamoille Valley, Rutland, Springfield, St. Johnsbury, St. Albans, and on the UVM Burlington Campus.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes offer new opportunities for serving the intellectual needs of Vermont’s older citizens through non-credit lectures, courses, and programs offered at an affordable cost in communities throughout the state. Local community members, in collaboration with UVM, design the curriculum and enroll in non-credit classes taught by active and retired UVM faculty or other area college faculty and experts.
A National Movement Towards Lifelong Learning
Currently the Bernard Osher Foundation is supporting 125 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes on university and college campuses, with at least one OLLI in each of the fifty states. Several states already have several. The Foundation also supports a National Resource Center which serves as a connecting resource for all the institutes.