University of Oregon

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Continuing and Professional Education

OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield 2020 News and Updates Archive

An archive of OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield 2020 news and updates is listed below. Current announcements can be found on the News and Updates page.

President’s Note: April 2020

In recent months' messages, I have focused on an overview of the abundant program and study and discussion group offerings of OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield. This has dramatically changed with the suspension of all group activities for OLLI-UO during the current pandemic crisis. It is a period of great challenges and uncertainty. However, what has not changed is the vitality and nexus of our E/S community, which has been developed and fostered throughout the past twenty-seven years.

We remain connected and, despite the current mandated isolation, our connection will increase as OLLI-UO staff and volunteers explore the use of technology to link us in these coming weeks and perhaps months. Both the Eugene/Springfield and Central Oregon Governing Councils have recently conducted their monthly meetings though the use of video conferencing applications. The Program and Membership Committees at both OLLI-UO sites will convene in similar fashion in April. We are exploring the use of technology to permit study and discussion groups to communicate and share information so as to maintain virtual activity. It may even be possible to provide online streaming of some E/S programs. For the spring quarter (April–June), the University of Oregon will conduct all of its classes remotely, and OLLI-UO is likely to benefit from the expanding use of technology in the university environment.

It is not possible to predict the near-term future of our current situation. However, we should remain confident that our OLLI-UO community is vibrant, is connected, and will emerge stronger once we resume normal operations. I join with all members in sharing the wish for all of us to be healthy and positive.

Stephen Koller
President, Governing Council, OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield

March 27, 2020

President's Note: March 2020

The Study and Discussion Groups at OLLI-UO in E/S represent an important core offering for members in addition to the lecture and course programs. For many of our E/S members, the benefits of the depth of study, the continuity, and the camaraderie characterized by the Study and Discussion Groups are the primary reason for participating in OLLI-UO.

The study and discussion group format has been a key component of the E/S site since the very beginning of the organization, when it was founded as Learning in Retirement (LIR). In fact the original Classics/Philosophy group has met in one form or another continuously for 26 years. At present, twenty Study and Discussion Groups meet regularly to focus on language study, current events, international affairs, literature and philosophy, science and meditation. Our current groups range in size from 50+ to fewer than 10 participants, but each is valuable.

It is also worth noting that the continuous, year-round nature of this particular format is somewhat rare within the nation-wide network of OLLIs, most of which operate on a term system with lengthy breaks between terms. All of this is made possible through the commitment of group facilitators who donate their time as volunteer leaders. These individuals should be recognized and appreciated by the entire OLLI-UO in E/S community. Thanks to all of you!

Stephen Koller
Governing Council President, OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield

February 25, 2020

President's Note: February 2020

The OLLI-UO in E/S program calendar is brimming with new lectures, courses and presentations thanks to the hard work of the Program Committee. As we move into 2020, let's take a peek at what members can expect in the coming months.

In February, we will continue the "sold-out" course on women writers and begin a new lecture series that examines the U.S. Constitution. Two double-part programs in the Arts will focus on the fascinating personalities of Alexander Calder, and later in the spring, Dale Chihuly. There will also be programs examining Global Cooling by Grassland Soils, Nabakov, Pompeii and the Atomic Age, and a sobering presentation on Diplomacy and the Rwanda Genocide. An increased emphasis on offering courses has resulted in a new course on Economic Inequality and the long-awaited second module on the History of Music. Both will begin in April. There will be some local focus as well with a series of programs about bridges in Eugene, including field trips to each bridge.

Our E/S site has benefited from a multi-year relationship with both the Oregon Humanities and the UO Insight Seminar series. As a result, three Oregon Humanities Conversation Project programs are scheduled in the winter-spring, as well as multiple opening lectures preceding the Insight Seminars. Finally, the film series committee will keep us "On the Road" with more great films. It will be busier than ever at the Baker Center so come early to get your parking spot.

Stephen Koller
Governing Council President, OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield

January 22, 2020

President's Note: January 2020

We begin the new year at OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield with enthusiasm and the anticipation of great programs and activities throughout 2020. But it is also rewarding to look back and reflect on 2019 with appreciation for the accomplishments and activities that characterized the past year.

The year began with the final update to the OLLI-UO Info Hub, thereby giving members online access to program descriptions, announcements, and activity calendars. January and February were also marked by the scheduling of the Women, Myth and Culture course, one of the most popular programs ever presented in E/S. We continued our highly successful collaborations with lectures from our sibling program at Continuing and Professional Education (CPE): UO Insight Seminars and hosted events with the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project. The highlight of April was the 25th Anniversary Gala Luncheon with Dr. Patrick Phillips (now UO Provost) as the keynote speaker. More than 100 members and guests attended this event at the UO Ford Alumni Center.

The Spring and Summer included the expansion of the Meet and Greet program for all members, especially newer members who have the opportunity to expand their circle of OLLI-UO colleagues. E/S members "stepped" to a first-place award for "Best Marching" in the annual Eugene Parade. The Annual General Meeting in September resulted in the election of new Governing Council members.

Our E/S site also hosted an Oregon Lifelong Learning Summit attended by more than a dozen lifelong learning organizations in Western Oregon, as well as a public meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. E/S Governing Council President Susan Walcott and OLLI-UO Program Director Sandra Gladney represented OLLI-UO at the annual national meeting of OLLI institutes from across the United States. The Osher Foundation continued to recognize and support OLLI-UO with the awarding of a third Capacity Grant. In addition, through the efforts of both OLLI-UO sites and CPE, work was completed on an updated OLLI-UO Financial Sustainability Plan.

And finally, what do Nietzsche, microbes, presidential investigations, climate change, work conditions in Bangladesh, and science fiction have in common? These are all topics from the more than 100 programs presented at OLLI-UO in E/S in 2019. It was a wonderful and busy year!

Stephen Koller
Governing Council President, OLLI-UO in Eugene/Springfield

December 17, 2019

Council Presidents' Holiday Message

Ed. Note: This message was sent via email to all OLLI-UO members in Central Oregon and Eugene/Springfield on December 23, 2020.

As 2020 comes to not-too-soon end, it is understandable that many are relieved to move on to a new year. The past year has been punctuated by the challenge and the sadness of the pandemic. However, for OLLI-UO, it has been a transformative year—manifestly exemplified by the success of the Winter Holiday Celebration on December 21 that brought together more than four score of OLLI members on both sides of the Cascades.

For the first time, a social event was held that was truly OLLI-UO, not focused solely on Central Oregon or Eugene-Springfield. It is appropriate to recognize the members and staff who created this unique event, most notably Elizabeth Polidan, Julie Jessal, Howard Schuman, Suzanne Butterfield, Heather Inghram, Todd Gauthier, Terry Schwab, David Kolb, and Carolyn Kortge.

We know that OLLI-UO will some day return to live programming, live interaction among members, and the social contact that makes our OLLI experience so important and rewarding. We are all anxious for this to happen even as we cannot predict how or when this process will occur. However, we also should recognize that the OLLI-UO of the future will not be the same as the OLLI of the past. There will be a greater sharing of programs, of speakers and resources. There will be the expansion of relationships characterized by the increasing integration of a true OLLI-UO community. There will be the possibility of new members who participate from all parts of northwestern Oregon and even beyond.

And, finally, there will be the recognition that from the isolation and remoteness that was a dark shadow over much of the past year, a new OLLI-UO will emerge, stronger and more interconnected than ever. The future is bright.

Best wishes for a healthy and safe Holiday Season for all.

Kathryn Cullen
Central Oregon Governing Council

Stephen Koller
Eugene/Springfield Governing Council

An Update From OLLI-UO Governing Councils

This was sent via email to all OLLI-UO members in Central Oregon and Eugene/Springfield on July 9, 2020.

To All OLLI-UO Members:

A Look Into the Future

"These are the times that try men's souls" wrote Thomas Paine. He wasn’t referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, but his words certainly apply to the present. We are all affected by this situation, and, for many of us, OLLI-UO has become more important and more central to our lives. Much of OLLI activity has resumed, albeit remotely, and it would be timely to look ahead into the short-term future.

Under the guidance of both Governing Councils (Eugene/Springfield and Central Oregon), volunteer-leader teams met to plan and anticipate future OLLI operations. This message summarizes the results of the work done by the teams.

  • In-person activities including lectures, presentations, and study and discussion groups may not be possible in the fall. And if in-person activities can resume, there are likely to be significant restrictions in terms of member attendance, physical distancing at meeting venues (including the Baker Downtown Center), and the frequency of programs and other activities.
  • Remote programming via Zoom or other platforms will continue under any circumstance. Increasing numbers of OLLI members are now participating remotely and non-participating members will be encouraged to join activities. Current training/orientation for members to use remote technology will be expanded.
  • Joint remote programming with participants from both OLLI sites will be expanded. This will be supported through coordinated program planning and scheduling between the two sites. An unexpected benefit of the pandemic has been the shared participation of OLLI members, which has resulted in the greater sense of the complete OLLI-UO community.
  • OLLI-UO has received approval from the Osher Foundation to use grant money to acquire additional equipment to upgrade remote programming capability. This will enable OLLI to support the remote programming of live presentations when in-person activities are possible.
  • We will expand the number of OLLI volunteers in the facilitation of remote programs and meetings as these activities will increase in the future. Orientation will be provided to support volunteers.

We recognize that many of our members place a high value of OLLI participation on the social benefits of meeting in-person with other OLLI members. Under the most optimistic assumptions, we must accept that social engagement will be circumscribed for some time into the future. However, members should be confident that OLLI activity will be robust and varied as we enter into the fall term.

We should also be confident and thankful for the continued strong support of OLLI-UO from the University and especially from the Department of Continuing and Professional Education. More information will be forthcoming through an all-member Zoom meeting to be held in the near future. This meeting will allow members to ask questions regarding anticipated OLLI-UO activities and operations as well as to provide input and suggestions. We all can expect a strong and vibrant OLLI in the future.


Eugene/Springfield Governing Council

Central Oregon Governing Council

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
—Eric Hoffer

July 9, 2020

Summer Program Update

This was sent via email to all OLLI-UO members in Central Oregon and Eugene/Springfield on July 1, 2020.

At the end of the UO's academic year and as we begin the summer season, we OLLI-UO program staff are writing to provide a comprehensive update and answer a few logistical questions that we know are on your mind. We’ve come a long way since mid-March!

Program Update

Though our day-to-day lives underwent a sea change this spring, OLLI-UO has continued to function at a high level, providing intellectual and social engagement for members via remote delivery platforms. For instance, some study and discussion groups and all lectures are meeting via Zoom, some groups are using Basecamp and Zoom, and other groups have decided to maintain their connection via email. While there is no right or wrong way to do it, we applaud member-leaders, facilitators, and participants for choosing to engage. Now, more than ever, we are hearing from our members that they need the program to continue and flourish in order to provide vital connections to support their intellectual, social, and mental health.

While we understand this is different from the OLLI-UO experience you signed up for, it is the OLLI-UO that we have in the moment. And, out of crisis comes opportunity. Members and staff are learning new tech skills, designing innovative program formats, adjusting operating procedures, and learning and maintaining new social connections together… and the program is thriving because of it! We are able to bring in speakers and guests who otherwise would not have participated in OLLI-UO. When we return to the classroom, we will be able to use what we have learned to enhance the experience for everyone and expand the reach of OLLI-UO to potential new members.

The most heartening program development during this time has been the increase in cross-site cooperation between our Central Oregon and Eugene/Springfield Governing Councils, committees, and member-leaders. Due in large part to their efforts and foresight, our program is more closely united than ever before. This unification positions OLLI-UO for exciting expansion opportunities, which we continue to explore. In the coming weeks, the Program Schedule pages on both sites’ Info Hubs will be updated with a merged set of listings. That is, almost all program offerings at both sites will be open to all members, no matter the format or location. This transition presents a unified slate of expanded programming for current members and for future outreach efforts to new/potential members. And, yes, we have continued to have new members join OLLI-UO—at both sites—since March!

End of Membership Extension

You may recall that in early April, both Governing Councils approved an across-the-board three-month extension of all members’ enrollment periods. As it is now the beginning of July, the first group of members who had original participation expiration dates in mid/late March (when in-person classes went on hiatus) are now at the end of their membership periods. Over the last two weeks, Councils at both program sites voted, with staff agreement, not to extend membership periods any further. If your membership period has ended, we hope you will re-enroll. Renewal notices will be sent as per usual, beginning tomorrow (July 2).

OLLI-UO Governing Councils' and staff members' rationale for extending memberships for the three-month period was due to the lack of program engagement we were able to provide at that time. The fact that we have successfully launched a variety of offerings via Zoom—and a chance to participate in classes and discussion groups at either site—led us to the decision that the three-month extension was sufficient.

We understand that using Zoom is not for everyone, but we have been encouraged by the enthusiastic response that many OLLI-UO members have shown in using it. Either way, we hope you will continue on with OLLI-UO and hang in there with us. We want to be here for you when you are ready to come back to a classroom. If you are already using Zoom—thank you! If you are interested in learning to use Zoom—we're ready to get you started! It’s easier than you may think.

Where We are Headed

OLLI-UO will continue to offer a slate of Zoom lectures, groups, and social meetings through the summer and into the fall. In the fall, we will continue to expand our program’s key offerings (lectures, courses, and study and discussion groups). Next week, your Governing Council Presidents Kathryn Cullen (Central Oregon) and Stephen Koller (Eugene/Springfield) will be in touch via email to provide a comprehensive update about OLLI-UO programming during the summer, fall, and beyond.

Thank you for your participation in OLLI-UO. We use this phrase in many of our communications with you—but now, more than ever, we want you to know how much it really does mean: to your fellow members, to member-leaders, to staff, and to the UO. We are all involved with OLLI-UO because we believe in the importance of lifelong learning and the strong community that has been built around this concept. We are all working hard to keep OLLI-UO rolling and moving forward—and we can’t do it without you!

Thank you so much for all you do. Stay well and be healthy!

Best regards,

Todd Gauthier, E/S Program Manager
Sandra Gladney, Program Director
Heather Inghram, CO Program Manager

July 1, 2020


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oregon