UNIVERSITY PARK — The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State will celebrate 20 years of adult learning at a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Ramada Conference Center State College. The Centre County Commissioners have also declared the day to be OLLI Appreciation Day for the county.
OLLI at Penn State is a membership organization offering affordable courses, trips and social activities geared toward adults who are 50 years and older.
OLLI at Penn State began as the Community Academy of Lifelong Learning in 1996 and, together with Penn State Outreach and Online Education, first applied for funds to become an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in 2006. OLLI dissolved its 501c3 nonprofit status and officially became a part of Penn State in 2015.
Sarah Anderson has been the director of OLLI at Penn State for 16 years.
“I believe people have a natural yearning to learn throughout their lifespan,” Anderson said. “OLLI fulfills that desire for mature adult learners, who at this stage of life, no longer need to learn for the sake of advancing their careers — but want to learn for the pure joy of it.”
Mavis Stapleford is one of OLLI’s 1,200 members. She joined after her husband passed away and she moved to State College. Stapleford credits the program to opening up a new world to her.
“From the first time I walked into the OLLI office, meeting smiling faces and a warm welcome — I picked up an OLLI catalog and fell in love,” Stapleford said. “I signed up for many courses. It’s great fun reliving one’s own world travels through someone else’s experiences. Through someone else’s eyes, I see art, music, the environment, local and international history and culture.”
Carol and Steve Gentry have volunteered for the organization for nearly 20 years.
“I was recruited to join the Curriculum Committee just after I retired from teaching in 1999,” Carol Gentry said. “Joining OLLI is the next stage of an active lifestyle. It keeps the mind active. It gives retirees something positive to retire to after they have left their life’s work.”
Steve Gentry, OLLI Advisory and Leadership Committee member and past president, said it is the variety of experiences that keeps him active.
“There are too many excellent classes and trips to mention or to choose a favorite,” Steve Gentry said. “So when asked what my favorite trip or class has been, my standard answer is: the next one.”
The OLLI at Penn State luncheon will feature Penn State President Eric Barron; Patty Satalia, senior producer and host for WPSU-TV and FM; and music by Naomi Seidman and Jon Dexter.
For more information, visit OLLI at Penn State online.