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Updated 10:00 AM March 5, 2007




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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute marks 20th year

For Ann Arbor, a community that prides itself on intellectual curiosity and promoting education, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's (OLLIUMICH) 20th anniversary lecture series is the closest thing to a continuing senior education program.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Osher Institute is holding a reception open to the University community 10 a.m.-noon March 6 at the Best Western Hotel Conference Center, 2900 Jackson Road.

Each year, the institute presents several lecture series and offers retirees the opportunity to attend classes and study groups headed by faculty and staff of U-M.

A broad range of topics is covered, including philosophy, space exploration, politics, computers, creative writing, government and world culture. Speakers and lecturers volunteer their time.

"I found it was very interesting and very stimulating," says Elizabeth Mutschler, a retired professor from the School of Social Work, of the lecture series. She says 200 typically attend. "They have short lectures and there are seminars that study something in depth; it's very enjoyable," Mutschler says. In coming weeks she plans to present her own lecture, on population migration from Mexico and U.S. policy decisions related to the issue.

Originally named Learning in Retirement when it was established in 1987 by a group of Turner Geriatric Clinic volunteers, the organization was renamed the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute last fall. The change was fitting, after the group received a $100,000 grant from Bernard Osher, a philanthropist who made millions in the financial industry.

Osher Institute programs are intended for people who share the love of learning, says A. Ann Tai, program coordinator. "This (Osher) grant provides our organization with a number of fantastic advancement opportunities," Tai says. "With the institute's 20-year anniversary reception rapidly approaching, the grant could not have come at a better time.

"With additional staffing, we will do more outreach, marketing to younger retirees, to retirees from diverse backgrounds and to retirees who may be frail or homebound," Tai adds.

"Some of this year's most interesting lectures have been on China and economics, but Ralph Williams, an English professor at the University, is always a good draw as well," Tai says. "For future lectures and speaker sessions, the curriculum committee will continue to look for speakers in the Washtenaw community that spark our members' interests and desires."

Lectures are held at the Best Western Hotel, and classes are offered at a variety of sites. They include University Commons, Sunrise Assisted Living and the Turner Senior Resource Center.

The institute has a membership of more than 900, including a large number of U-M alumni and Washtenaw County seniors.

All retirees aged 50 or older are welcome to join the organization. Membership requires an annual $15 registration fee to pay for staffing, supplies and other administrative issues. For more information, go to

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