FAQs - Osher

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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

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Osher FAQs

Named for its benefactor, Bernard Osher, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers accessible and innovative learning environments with special focus on participants 50 years of age and over. Learners from all backgrounds and educational levels can enjoy the benefits of Institute membership. Choosing from a diverse collection of courses, learners can create their own personal development program, expanding their views of the world and enriching their lives and their communities.

There are currently 120 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes hosted by selected colleges and universities in 50 states. Potential host institutions are invited to apply for membership and are then selected through a rigorous application process. The University of Kansas was awarded membership in February 2004 and offered its first classes the following fall.

Maine native Bernard Osher is a successful businessman and community leader and a patron of the arts and education. His philanthropy has affected countless organizations over the past quarter century. His wife, the Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in San Francisco, serves as chair of the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The Foundation was created by Bernard Osher in 1977 to benefit a wide range of educational, cultural, and other nonprofit organizations primarily in the San Francisco Bay area and his native Maine. During the 1990s, the Foundation funded a series of Osher Scholar programs, extending scholarship assistance for post-secondary education to nearly 30 colleges and universities as well as professional and technical schools in California and Maine. The Foundation's interest in creating educational opportunities for older adults led to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute began in California and Maine and soon spread to all 50 states.

There are four programs supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation. These include the Osher Scholars and Fellows Program, Osher Reentry Scholarship Program, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes Program, Osher Integrative Medicine Programs, and local arts, cultural, and educational programs.

Since our inaugural season in the fall of 2004, we will have offered courses to more than 3,000 registered participants in Lawrence, Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Topeka, Ottawa, Hutchinson, Hesston, North Newton, Newton, Manhattan, McPherson, Salina and the Greater Kansas City area. Formal partnerships have been developed and successfully sustained with residential retirement communities in Kansas and Missouri. Additional Osher Lifelong Learning sponsorship's have been created with senior centers, Regents Institutions, community colleges, museums, art organizations, libraries, a private foundation, and other community organizations.

Osher classes are offered at easily accessible locations in the northeast Kansas region and eight locations in other parts of the state. Headquarters are at the St. Andrews Office Facility, 1515 St. Andrews Drive in Lawrence, Kansas. Classes are also offered in Lenexa (Lakeview Village); Olathe (Aberdeen Village); Overland Park (KU Edwards Campus,Tallgrass Creek, and the Jewish Community Center of Kansas City); Prairie Village (Claridge Court); Topeka (Washburn University, McCrite Plaza, and Brewster Place); and Clay County, Mo. (Maple Woods Community College). Courses are also offered in Manhattan (K-State and Meadowlark Hills); Hutchinson (Hutchinson Community College); Hesston (Hesston College, Schowalter Villa, Hesston Area Senior Center and Dyck Arboretum); North Newton (Kidron Bethel); McPherson (The Cedars); Ulysses (Grant County Senior Center); and Salina (Kansas Wesleyan University, Kansas State University Polytechnic, and Salina Presbyterian Manor). Please check individual class descriptions for locations.

Yes. You automatically become a member each season by enrolling in at least one class or attending a special event.

Absolutely. Although we do not have a registration deadline, please register as early as possible for every course you wish to take. That way your seat will be reserved. Many classes fill quickly.

Learners from all ages, backgrounds and educational levels enjoy the benefits of Institute membership. The diversity in backgrounds and mix of generations adds to the dynamics of the classes. While our average age is 75, our oldest member is 100 and our youngest is 16.

No, everyone is welcome to attend classes or special events offered by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The program has a focus of learners 50 and older but encourages participation from lifelong learners of all ages. Our oldest member is 100 and our youngest is 16.

Anyone, regardless of age or educational background, may join the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. All you have to do is register.

Instructors are carefully selected to assure they have the academic qualifications, a passion for the topic, and a love of teaching to create a meaningful, interactive, and fun learning environment. While many of our instructors are faculty or emeritus faculty members at the University of Kansas, Osher instructors come from all walks of life. They are people with specialized interests and the desire to share their expertise.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members enjoy interactive and participatory teaching and learning environments. Courses are generally offered once a week over a three-week period with two hours scheduled for each class. There is always a 10-minute break after the first hour.

The Osher Institute strives to keep fees as low as possible to help ensure more individuals are able to afford courses. Participants have the ability to enroll in three-week courses for a $50 per course registration fee. We also offer one-day courses for a $25 per course registration fee.

The cost of special events varies.

Membership fees cover only a portion of the expenses needed to support the Osher program. Although the generous support received from the Bernard Osher Foundation supplements the program, additional costs are met by individual and corporate donations. Supporters become a Friend of Osher by making a donation of any amount.