Christmas came early for the University of Nevada, Reno's learning-in-retirement program, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, when members were surprised at their holiday party by the announcement of a second $1 million award from The Bernard Osher Foundation.
"This endowment is a testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of staff and volunteers who have kept this program on an upward trajectory, building it into one of the finest and largest in the country," Fred Holman, vice provost for Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, said. "The Osher Foundation's additional endowment award ensures the continuation, for years to come, of a level of social engagement for our senior adults in the region that integrates volunteerism and self-development."
The Bernard Osher Foundation, after providing $375,000 in operating support, gave an initial $1 million endowment gift in January 2009.
"I am surprised and amazed," Joe Coleman, local Osher Institute president, said. "This is terrific for OLLI. I am proud of our programs and the diverse educational opportunities we can offer to our members."
The University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has 1,400 members with 150 indoor and outdoor activities and classes, offering everything from art and literature to science and travel. The organization is for adults 50 years old and older.
Shera Alberti-Annunzio, assistant director of professional development programs for Extended Studies and the Institute's University liaison, said the program's success is due to the dedication of members, strong University support and an effective program structure that has allowed the member-driven organization to achieve the success since it was conceived and launched in 1991.
Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, said in a letter read to the group by Karen Penner Johnson, wife of President Marc Johnson and a member of the Institute, "the continued growth of the lifelong learning program at the University of Nevada, Reno since the Foundation made its first grant award in 2007, has been exceptional, and we salute you on providing yet another year of outstanding educational services to seasoned adults in the Reno area."
"We applaud, too, the University's leadership for its steadfast support of the program and for embracing the notion that - at its best - education is a lifelong pursuit that has the power to elevate, delight, and forge our connection to one another and to a larger world," Bitterman said.
President Marc Johnson said, "I have enjoyed hearing of the many educational and outdoor programs the Osher Institute offers here in the Reno-Sparks area. I want to thank those who keep these programs organized and the enthusiastic participants who continue to grow this magnificent OLLI program. Their efforts are being rewarded."
The University's Osher Institute for older adult learners is guided by a volunteer board and sponsored by Extended Studies. It is based off-campus at the University's Warren Nelson Building in downtown Reno and, as part of an annual membership fee of $45, offers free noncredit educational programs to adults age 50 and over.
It is one of 117 Osher Institutes established since 2001 at such colleges and universities as University of California Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, Brandeis University, Duke, Northwestern, Rutgers, Tufts and Arizona State University. For more information about the University's program visit the website at http://www.olli.unr.edu.
Based in San Francisco, The Bernard Osher Foundation has supported higher education and the arts since its founding in 1977 by community leader Bernard Osher. For more information about the Bernard Osher Foundation, visit www.osherfoundation.org.