In recognition of its work to engage seasoned adults age 50 and older in learning opportunities, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Miami (OLLI at UM) has received a generous gift from its namesake’s foundation.
Noting the University’s commitment to “education as a lifelong pursuit,” The Bernard Osher Foundation announced on Wednesday a momentous $1 million grant in the form of a $950,000 endowment and a $50,000 bridge grant to support the Institute’s continued work. This is the second endowment grant the foundation has awarded the Institute, the first being a $1 million grant in 2014.
“We are grateful to The Bernard Osher Foundation for its extraordinary support of our efforts to provide a rich learning environment to our growing class of students 50 and older,” said UM President Julio Frenk. “Education is not just something you do at a single stage of your life—the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides invaluable lessons and life skills to our students throughout their lives.”
The Institute offers members dozens of engaging programs, from history, literature and the arts to world affairs, current events and languages. Founded in 1984 as the Institute for Retired Professionals, the Institute’s membership has been steadily increasing through the years to now more than 1,200.
“The pioneering efforts and vision of the dedicated individuals who founded the program in 1984 established a standard of excellence and a model of active member involvement that have become hallmarks of the Institute,” said Mary G.F. Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation.
“We recognize that the program’s success represents the collective achievement of its excellent staff and dynamic community of intellectually vigorous members, who give generously of their time, talent, and financial resources,” she said.
OLLI at UM is part of the Division of Continuing and International Education, which in 2008 received a $1 million grant from the Osher Foundation to establish the Osher Reentry Endowed Scholarship Program which assists nontraditional, reentry students, age 25- 50, with tuition expenses. The Osher Reentry Scholars are in the Division’s and College of Arts and Sciences Bachelor of General Studies program.
“Mr. Osher is a visionary philanthropist who understood, before it was fashionable, that it is critical to give adults the opportunity not only to complete degrees but also to continue active, substantive learning past the age of 50,” said Rebecca MacMillan Fox, dean of the Division of Continuing and International Education. “His foundation has supported learning for and improved the quality of life of many hundreds of non-traditional students. OLLI at UM, under the superb leadership of its Director, Julia Cayuso, has grown enormously over the past few years, and has developed into an authentically member-driven program.”
The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, supports Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes on the campuses of 119 universities and colleges, offering hundreds of non-credit programs and courses for adults interested in continuing the journey and joy of learning. Bernard Osher, a patron of education and the arts, started The Bernard Osher Foundation in 1977 which seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.