Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Continuing and Professional Education

Eugene/Springfield Announcements

Eugene/Springfield program announcements will be published on this page each month. Please read to the bottom of the page for all announcements.


Historic Downtown Eugene Walking Tour

Photo of group of OLLI-UO members listening to Tyler Burgess speak in downtown Eugene.

About 50 OLLI-UO students enjoyed the beautiful fall weather and learned about landmark buildings during a walking tour Friday, November 1, of historic downtown Eugene. Tyler Burgess (Walk-With-Me.com) was the tour guide.

After leaving the Baker Downtown Center, the group walked to 10th and Oak St. to view a photographic mural of early Eugene in the lobby of Key Bank. The photograph was shot from Skinner Butte about 1841, she said, whereas the Willamette St. trolley wasn’t electrified yet and would have been drawn by a mule. Other significant landmarks in the photo included the first two buildings of the University of Oregon. The Key Bank building, Burgess noted, was built in the Brutalist architectural style of the mid-20th century, similar to the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington DC in its angular aspect and concrete construction.

At the Park Blocks, Burgess pointed out trees where local farmers hitched their wagons to sell produce at early farmers’ markets. From that vantage point, the group could view what is left of the historic Astor building, parts of which were incorporated into a more recent glass and steel construction. Burgess blames the urban renewal efforts of the 1960s and ‘70s for the loss of significant historic sites downtown. “Urban renewal devastated local charm,” Burgess said. She cites Independence and Corvallis as two examples of intact early architecture.

The group continued on to Willamette St., where the Baker Hotel stands as an example of the typical red brick construction of early downtown Eugene. Burgess pointed out steel plates on the exterior wall of that building that connected to interior cables used to bolster the pre-steel construction.

At the intersection of Willamette and 10th, the group viewed the Downtown Athletic Center, which had been a department store; the MacDonald Theatre, which began as a movie theatre; and the Schaefer building, an intact brick structure and example of Art Deco architecture that once was home to a bowling alley. Nearby are the preserved storefront signs of Newberry’s and Woolworth’s.

Burgess moved to Eugene in 1994 after visiting her son, who then was a second-year graduate student at the U of O. In 2003, she founded Walk With Me and began teaching various fitness walking classes at Lane Community College and the U of O. In 2003 she conducted her first walking tour, of England, with 12 women. Since then she has guided 34 walking tours in 10 different countries. Although she no longer gives these tours, she continues to “walk, cycle, and sketch the world.”

Burgess outlines “townscape walks” in books not only about Eugene and Springfield, but also Portland and other Oregon cities; Seattle; the south California coast; Siena, Italy; and Quito, Ecuador. These walks take into account the “line of life” (why is this city here?); “the grandiose vista”; the “mystery of the emerging view” (what is around the corner, over the hill, down the path?); “the silhouette”; and “seeing in detail” (places that create seclusion or invite social activity). Her books and calendars are available at Walk-With-Me.com.

November 4, 2019


President’s Note: November 2019

Photograph of Stephen Koller and Susan Walcott.

It is with humility and a touch of pride that I present my first message as OLLI-UO in E/S Governing Council President. First, I extend my appreciation to outgoing Council President Susan Walcott for her leadership and dedication during the past two years, much to the benefit of our program site. 

At the recent Annual General Meeting, we elected the 2020 members of the Governing Council, including two new members. Let’s meet our new Council members:

Elaine De Martin-Webster is co-facilitator of our French Language group. In addition, she is actively involved in several community cultural organizations, including the Jordon Schnitzer Museum and Oregon Mozart Players. Elaine joined OLLI-UO 10 years ago. She would like to help OLLI find ways to give more scholarships and opportunities to people with the life experience to effectuate change.

Dr. Tagi Sagafi-nejad is an Emeritus Professor of International Business from Loyola University, Maryland. Tagi was born in a remote village of Eastern Iran. He earned his MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at several universities including Penn, University of Washington, Loyola University Maryland, University of Texas, Austin, and Texas A&M International University. Tagi and his wife, Nancy, are relatively new members of OLLI-UO.

Presentations at the Annual General Meeting at the end of September reinforced the strength and positive direction of OLLI-UO. Our sustainability continues to grow, the Osher Foundation has acknowledged our success with a third capacity grant, and our membership reaches record numbers. I look forward  to my work with the Governing Council in the coming year.

Stephen Koller, Eugene/Springfield Council President

October 29, 2019


Members Learn Strategies for Lively Discussions and Effective Facilitation

How does focused discussion help us learn as well as build community and belonging in our discussion groups? A group of OLLI-UO/ES members learned advice and techniques for making the most of presentations and discussions in a recent special presentation by the UO Teaching Engagement Program.

Appropriate active involvement in discussion groups helps us learn nine key dispositions, according to presenter Jason Schreiner: hospitality, participation, mindfulness, humility, mutuality (mutual caring for others' self-development as one’s own), deliberation, appreciation, hope, and autonomy or courage to take a stand.

To encourage appropriate involvement, the group should have a set of ground rules, either determined by the group or presented by the facilitator for possible feedback. Possible ground rules might include discussing to learn, mindful listening, listening leniency, and "stepping up/stepping back" or monitoring our own participation to see if more or less participation would be helpful.

In addition, a participant might wish to seek clarification or offer supporting evidence on a certain point. Further, participants might need to remember to focus on ideas, not individuals, and to understand that complex issues are not simple. The goal is to find ways to inquire and work together to advance inquiry and understanding.

Effective group facilitators might follow these suggested guidelines:

  • Be prepared
  • Set the stage by stating goals and expectations
  • Explain the facilitator’s role, such as keeping the discussion focused and energized
  • Establish community expectations, such as the ground rules listed above
  • Focus the discussion
  • Check yourself to avoid being on a soapbox or being the "expert"
  • Be a gatekeeper and guide: keep participants focused and moving forward, pausing occasionally to recap or pause for reflection
  • Encourage equity in participation
  • Wrap up

The presenter provided some Socratic questioning prompts to aid in clarification or to stimulate deliberation/discussion of the initial question or issue. Other prompts he provided were intended to probe assumptions, reasons and evidence, origin or source questions, implications and consequences, or viewpoints and consequences.

Schreiner employed some of his suggested techniques by having participants break out into groups to brainstorm what makes an effective discussion and what makes an ineffective discussion. Afterward, the groups came back together and shared ideas.

October 11, 2019


OLLI-UO Earns Eugene Parade Award

A group of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oregon volunteers braved the rain on Sunday, September 22, to march in the Eugene Parade, earning a first-place award for "Best In-Step/Best Marching."

Leading the group of volunteers were banner carriers Andy and Susan Walcott, followed by Ilene O'Malley, Gayle Semrad, Judy Johnston, and Julie Jessal with yellow and green pompoms and flags. Choreography was provided by Bill and Joy Taliaferro, Steve and Catherine Koller, Kathleen Bauder, and Jane Souzon. The group wore yellow and green mortar boards and over-sized, horn-rimmed glasses to underscore our learning mission, and carried prop books with titles such as Philosophy, Arts and Sciences, and Current Events. Periodically, they would twirl in place to display the book titles. Terry Brown set the pace with her kazoo renditions of "When I’m 64."

Antonia Lewis, Hannelore Burnstein, Gayle Semrad, Julie Jessal, and program manager Todd Gauthier managed the OLLI-UO information booth during the Sunday Streets celebration that followed, sharing information about the program with many interested members of the community. Gordon Nagai chronicled the event with his ever-ready cameras.

October 7, 2019


Member-volunteers reach out at the Blackberry bRamble

Ten OLLI-UO E/S members took advantage of an opportunity to both support the region's bicycling community and promote our own community of learners at the recent Blackberry bRamble.

They joined other volunteers from Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARS) at the Camas Country Bakery, where they provided sustenance for about 350 riders on the last segment of the various courses. Riders could choose among four routes, encompassing 37, 64, 82, or 117 miles. Riders came from all parts of Oregon to participate.

Afterward, the event promoters said cyclists applauded the Camas stop for its bountiful and cycling-appropriate snacks, which included pickles, potato chips, bananas (some stuffed with a cocoa/hazelnut spread), trail mix, watermelon, and many gallons of replenishing water. The two biggest hits were watermelon and tasty cookies donated by Camas bakery. Pickles and pickle juice (for the salt) were also in high demand. OLLI volunteers also built dozens of sandwiches for anyone needing more of a boost.

OLLI volunteers included Julie Jessal (team leader), Judy Johnston, Kate Nelson, Jim Ruderman, Gayle Semrad, Jackie Stokes, Carolyn Vike, and Susan Walcott. Valerie Rosenberg, co-chair of the bRamble this year, and her husband Max, both OLLI-UO members, wore two hats in the event, as representatives of OLLI and GEARS.

The event also was an opportunity to promote OLLI. Volunteers staffed a booth equipped with OLLI-UO literature, and Julie Jessal took advantage of group photo sessions to inform riders of the benefits of membership in our learning community. OLLI volunteers said the event was a fun opportunity to meet people and encouraged members to think of ways we can reach out to help other groups as well as increase our profile in Eugene and Springfield.

October 7, 2019


President’s Note: October 2019

Since this is my final Note as President of the OLLI-UO in Eugene-Springfield Governing Council, a quick review is in order along with sincere thanks for the privilege of serving as your President for the last two (yes, it’s been that long) years. This was a time of important transitions for OLLI-UO, beginning with organizational changes at the university that resulted in a large annual bill for us. A new Financial Sustainability Plan was the result. New administrators included Roger Thompson (who spoke with us twice) heading the (re-named) Continuing and Professional Education, Sandra Gladney as our Executive Director, and Todd Gauthier as our new Program Manager. Suzanne Butterfield became President of our sibling site in Central Oregon, and we have all worked together exceedingly well ever since.

Changes more visible to the members in this time period include opening the Patagonia Room as a lounge/meeting area, adding Shared Interest Groups as a member feature, moving from paper to the online Information Hub plus weekly upcoming event notices. Speaking of . . . major events included our Silver Anniversary year celebrations, the Silver Showcase anthology book, “Deck the Walls” artwork display, and participation in events like the Eugene Parade. Less visible to members are new program outreach to retirement centers, the leadership and discussion training with UO, the Governor’s Council meeting hosted by OLLI-UO, a conference with other Oregon lifelong learning organizations, and related network building. Programs continue strong and vibrant, including two (Avi and Nathan’s presentation and the Silver Showcase anthology project) that were featured in the national Osher newsletter. In short, fellow lifelong learners, the State of our Organization remains strong. Onward!

Susan Walcott, Eugene/Springfield Council President

September 18, 2019


An archive of previous announcements is available.

2019 announcements archive

2018 announcements archive