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Awards and Honors

Foundation Funds Life - Long Learning Institute
by Gail Matsunaga


From Dateline (March 13, 2003)

Volunteer working with a senior citizen

In another nod to the university's commitment to and excellence in the area of gerontology, the Bernard Osher Foundation recently awarded $100,000 to the Institute of Gerontology to create the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Renewable annually for three years, the grant “will help further establish our role in the realm of lifelong learning and will allow us to expand and extend into the community,” says Pauline S. Abbott, director of the Institute of Gerontology. In addition, an administrator will be hired to oversee the OLLI.

To be housed in the Ruby Gerontology Center, the institute will become the campus's main resource for information on courses, services and activities geared toward senior scholars - age 50 and older - from such programs and organizations as Continuing Learning Experience (CLE), 60+, University Extended Education, Center for Successful Aging, Adult Re-Entry Center and Center for Oral and Public History.

The OLLI also will offer non-credit coursework that Abbot says, “will give us the potential to use emeriti faculty members, those who want to continue to teach. They represent all areas and many disciplines, and will be introduced to new audiences.”

Designed to complement CLE's offerings, which are primarily offered in the Ruby Gerontology Center, the OLLI classes could possibly be held at off-campus locations - reaching those who cannot make it to Fullerton.

Eventually, says Abbott, classes may be offered via distance learning.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Gerontology, Orange County's senior population has doubled since 1980, and by 2020, will number approximately 965,000. Nationally, the educational level of older adults is increasing. And in a study commissioned by the AARP regarding why people age 50 years and older continue to learn about new things, a large proportion of those surveyed said they did so for the “joy of learning,” to enhance their spiritual or personal growth and to keep up with what is going on in the world. In Orange County, more than 9,000 residents age 50 years and older were enrolled in local community colleges and universities in fall 2000.


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