Fall Classes at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Photos by Evan Krape, Steven Dombchik, Kevin Quinlan

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program in the spring of 2020, program members had to make a difficult decision: forgo attending classes and participate in activities that they so loved or pursued their passions by entering a brave new world of OLLI programming online. By choosing to stay engaged with friends and instructors through online learning, UD OLLI members have unexpectedly created the largest online OLLI program in the nation.

As a volunteer-run learning cooperative for adults over 50, UD’s OLLI program has nearly 2,000 active members and offers approximately 300 courses through virtual classrooms and through their in-person locations. in Dover, Lewes, Ocean View and Wilmington. With volunteer instructors at the heart of the program, the expertise of their professional careers, educational backgrounds, hobbies and passions are the source of the breadth and depth of OLLI’s course offerings.

In fall 2022, classes will be offered in art, literature, history, film appreciation, languages, finance and investing, science, wellness (yoga, tai chi, dementia caregiver support group), dance (English Country Dance, Pacific Island, Folk), Musical Ensembles (Rock Band, Choir, Orchestra, Native American Flute) and more.

Featured instructors include UD Medal of Distinction recipient Bebe Coker, retired CNN reporter Ralph Begleiter, and OLLI instructor Joan Mansperger, who presents a lesson on his early career experience as a controller of the Navy air traffic.

Beatrice “Bebe” Coker, The 2021 recipient of the UD Medal of Distinction will lead Legalized Racism, a discussion course covering the roots and social context of racism in America and focusing on the legalized policies and practices of racial discrimination that have deprived African Americans of their rights. A lifelong activist and education leader, Coker has served on education, community service, civil rights, theater and performing arts boards. She has also led or co-taught the OLLI discussion courses, “Racism: Can We Talk? and “Dialogue Group for Action on Racism”. Coker’s next class will be at OLLI’s Arsht Hall location in Wilmington.

UD Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN reporter and founding director of the UD Center for Political Communication, regularly teaches classes online and at OLLI locations in Lewes and Ocean View, attracting hundreds of participants. During the fall semester, Begleiter presents “Media and Public Opinion in the 2022 Election” online and in the OLLI classroom in Lewes and at the Bayside Clubhouse in Selbyville.

Begleiter’s courses have included “Media and Public Opinion in the 2020 Election,” as well as “Propaganda and Public Diplomacy” and “The Future of American Political Parties.” Also available in the fall semester of OLLI is Begleiter’s popular class-style online offering, “The Adventures of a Global Journalist,” chronicling the experiences of his career as a journalist.

Coming from the life sciences, volunteer trainer Joan Mansperger taught OLLI courses on green living, sea level rise, tree identification, weather and beach research. But this is the first time she’s presented an OLLI class from her time as an air traffic controller at Naval Air Station Miramar in California, home to the Naval Fighter Weapons School, otherwise known in the Navy and by many. many moviegoers under the name “Top Gun”. Says Mansperger, “Imagine being a youngster, new to the military, trying to learn a complex new job in a hectic and challenging environment. It was quite a gig with some great stories to share. Mansperger will introduce the class on the site. OLLI from Lewes, with an online option also available.

Course offerings reflect instructor expertise, member interest

Since volunteer instructors develop and teach OLLI courses each semester, offerings reflect a wide variety of interests and expertise.

Topics offered on the Dover OLLI site this fall include Broadway Songs, Genealogy, Computer Workshop, The American Revolution, Hemingway, Helen Keller and more.

At Lewes, offerings include woodworking, forensics, Robert Frost, geology, and an ocean-centric alternative energy course led by graduate students from UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.

Civil War history, Pacific Island dancing and watercolor initiation are some of the classes offered at OLLI’s Ocean View location.

In Wilmington, the many offerings include archaeology, aviation history, international folk dancing, desktop publishing, banned books, Tom Hanks movies, and a directed art appreciation class. by two OLLI instructors who are lead guides at the Delaware Art Museum.

Online courses include African American art history, photography, ukulele, electric vehicles, Thomas Jefferson, memoir writing, smartphone apps, and investing topics.

Open house scheduled for August 8-10

The community is invited to learn more about OLLI at open house events scheduled for August 8 (Lewes), August 9 (Wilmington and Dover) and August 10 (Ocean View). Open Houses are from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., except for the Wilmington event which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Visitors can tour OLLI classrooms, meet volunteers and other participants, and pick up a catalog of programs. In-person registration assistance will be available.

The events will feature free ice cream provided by UD’s UDairy Creamery.

Open days are held in OLLI’s main classrooms:

  • Wilmington – Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington

  • Dover – Church of Wyoming, 216 Wyoming Mill Road, Dover

  • Lewes – Trinity Faith Education Building, 15516 New Road, Lewes

  • Ocean View – Ocean View Community Center, 32 West Ave., Ocean View.

Fall classes start September 6

For Fall 2022, OLLI offerings include over 300 in-person or online classes, including many examples of hybrid or combined offerings, allowing for flexible attendance options.

Classes begin September 6 in 13-week, 11-week and five-week sessions, with a second five-week session beginning October 18.

Registration for the fall semester begins August 3. For more details, including a full list of courses, visit the OLLI homepage at https://www.olli.udel.edu/.

OLLI’s recently revised membership structure consists of a flat fee of $250 for the semester, after which members enroll in unlimited classes and activities at all UD OLLI locations and online. Partial financial aid based on need is available; for details, contact the OLLI office at 302-573-4417.

About OLLI at UD

UD’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are volunteer-based learning cooperatives for adults over 50 to take and teach courses without grades, exams, or educational prerequisites. OLLI programs are located throughout Delaware.

In Delaware and nationwide, OLLI is affiliated with and receives partial support from the Bernard Osher Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on higher education, lifelong learning, and the arts.

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