OLLI’s Year in Review

Dear Lifelong Learners,

July 1 marked the start of the new academic year for OLLI and the close of my first full year as the program’s director.  We ended 2022-23 in strong shape, with 774 OLLI members, a dedicated staff in place for the full year, and a fantastic complement of volunteer leaders helping to inform and support our operations.  With the chairs of our three member committees and our Dean, I wanted to share some highlights, metrics, recognitions, and remembrances from the year that has passed.  Please read on for those reports.

Additionally, two of our premiere member events will be occurring in the coming weeks:
·         Founders’ Day 2023 – celebrating 29 years of learning and friendship – Saturday, August 26 (in-person event)
·         2023 Freedman Fall Address: Are Mass Shooters Mentally Ill, or Is It a Social Disease? delivered by Dr. Tahir Rahman – Friday, September 8 (hybrid event – online and in-person)

We would love to see you at these upcoming events, and we thank you for all the ways you contribute the warmth, vitality, and sustainability of the OLLI community.  I personally want to extend an extra thank you to Denise Zona, Chris Fleming, Dean Sean Armstrong, Associate Dean Karen Novak, and our committee chairs for their partnership.

Kind regards,
Janet Gillow

Committee Reports
Information about OLLI’s Committees along with current rosters of members can be found on our website.

Executive Advisory Committee
Report by Kelly Jordan, Chair
I have greatly enjoyed my first year as chair of the Executive Advisory Committee.  We have been hard at work during 2022-23 and have many accomplishments to celebrate.  Structurally, we spent much of the year navigating from OLLI’s out of date bylaws and adopting a new set of administrative procedures including formalized Code of Conduct.  Part of this work included revising the process by which new members are invited to join OLLI committees to adopt a more open process.  We were thrilled with the response and all the wonderfully qualified people newly assuming volunteer roles for OLLI, including new at-large Executive Advisory Committee members Gary Handelman and Rita Hulbert.

The Committee led OLLI’s year-end fundraising campaign which was designated for the purpose of refurbishing our lounge space and dedicating it to the service of former OLLI Director Katie Compton.  Together, the membership raised more than $20,000, which made the upgrades possible.

We are grateful to at-large members Pat Hyland and Yvonne Tisdel who completed their terms of service on June 30. 

Curriculum Committee
Report by Andrea Clark, Chair
During the 2022-23 academic year, the OLLI Curriculum Committee vetted and supported a wide range of programing for OLLI members.  Through the efforts of OLLI’s volunteer facilitators, 112 multi-meeting (4-, 8-, and 12- week) course options were available to the membership.  This year, our courses were 50% in-person, 40% online, and 10% hybrid.  Additionally, 20 free-to-member zoom lectures, gallery tours and other events occurred.

We placed a particular emphasis on cultivating partnerships with other community organizations this year, an effort which resulted in programing delivered in conjunction with Jazz St. Louis, Opera Theater of St. Louis, and The Black Rep.

Another significant accomplishment of the Committee this year was the revision of OLLI’s Facilitator Guide to align to current practices and to include delivery of courses by Zoom and hybrid modalities.  We also hosted two workshops for facilitators this year in an effort to provide new perspectives or skills they can leverage in their courses.

Please join me in thanking our curriculum committee and the 75 OLLI members who facilitated classes last year.

Membership Outreach and Retention Committee
Report by Joe Schlafly, Chair

In my first year as committee chair, I have been encouraged by the number of new OLLI members we’ve welcomed (197) and also challenged to consider how we should balance our efforts to include members locally and those who live far from St. Louis.  While there are some OLLI members who are happy to leave Zoom behind, fully 35% of our members have indicated they prefer the convenience of Zoom courses.  It is also noteworthy that, while the bulk of our membership remains in the zip codes closest to the OLLI office, we also have members residing in 16 other states.  A challenge for our group going forward is to preserve “both-and” thinking to create stimulating programs and connection opportunities that serve audiences both in-person and online.

During the spring, we have begun to ramp up our strategic outreach to various groups who we believe hold potential for OLLI membership.  I particularly want to thank Joanne Fritz, Jim Gadell, Kelly Jordan, Pat Magee, Beth Powell, and Rita Wylie for being partners in these efforts.

Finally, the Committee is delighted to have a leadership role in hosting Founders’ Day.  We very much hope to see you at the celebration on Saturday, August 26.

Dean’s Report
by Sean Armstrong
Dean, School of Continuing & Professional Studies

I joined Washington University in October of 2021 and have been pleased to watch OLLI’s membership and course activity grow rapidly since that time.  During 2022-23, I had the opportunity to join OLLI members for some of the group’s key events, including the Freedman Fall Address, the dedication of OLLI’s Lounge as Katie’s Place, and the Jasper Lecture.  Last Fall, I spent an enjoyable afternoon with members of the Wednesday Reading The New Yorker class.  As a New Yorker myself, I have felt right at home among you and am grateful for all the OLLI members who have helped welcome me to St. Louis.

For the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS) more broadly, it has been a phenomenal year in which we saw many of the aspirations nurtured for years meaningfully advanced.  We are building on longstanding commitment to the community that is evidenced by OLLI and the Prison Education Project and have now brought on board three new academic directors to build out non-credit professional learning programs.  Our team has established exciting partnerships with other units of WashU, as well as new corporate partnerships and government grants.  All of this activity culminated last month as we celebrated our future direction by renaming University College the School of Continuing & Professional Studies. 

The future ahead is exciting for the CAPS family, including OLLI.  I look forward to getting to know more of you on this journey.   Thank you for your support of OLLI and, more broadly, of Washington University’s efforts to connect with our surrounding community.

In Memory of our Friends
The OLLI office has been made aware of the passing of these OLLI members since our 2021-22 update to the membership.  If you notice that an OLLI member who has passed since June 2022 is missing from this list, please contact our office to share this information.

Cynthia Allen
Robert  Bohm
Halpin “Hap” Burke
Jane Eleanor Burton
Gretta Hahn Camel
Joan Cronin
Bettye Dew
Jean Heiss Donegan
Susan Fadem
Marjori “Peggy” Gibstine
Wayne Hanebrink
Milton Hieken
Elizabeth Jane Hoyt
Lawrence Kahn
Robert Kozielek
Diane Maginn
Charlotte Manges
Virginia McCann
Joy Melman
Jean Heiss Metzger
Ed Moorman
Carlos Pappalardo
Paul Ernest Schoomer
Helen Schrader
Arthur Schwartz
Robert Senior
Jitendra Shah
Rae Ellen Tash
Kenneth Teasdale
Stephen Waltman
Rita Warren
Dennis Wedemeyer
Vivian Zwick