Working for Missourians

In FY 2009, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute cast a net beyond the doors of its mid-Missouri facility to reach a wider audience of adult learners. Efforts included interactive television broadcasts and face-to-face classes in a residential retirement community and seniors’ club.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Source: MU Extension Annual Report, FY 2009

As the first program of its kind based at a Missouri public educational institution, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at MU provides opportunities to individuals age 50 and up statewide for continuing intellectual and cultural stimulation, interpersonal interaction, group participation and the sense of being an active player in society.

FY 2009 brought about increased understanding of the dynamics introduced by the technological revolution. Educational institutions no longer need wait for students to appear on their doorsteps. Instead, the hallmark of this year’s effort was taking education to students’ backyards.

The institute continues to serve as a resource for the state’s underserved, seasoned adult population residing in rural areas, as well as meeting the needs of central Missouri’s more concentrated population. As the equivalent of a mini-college with 2,387 students, the MU Extension program offered 160 events, including 58 courses, 67 educational films, 30 instructional brown-bag seminars and five educational tours during FY 2009.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Kenneth Greene instructs Osher Lifelong Learning Institute students in the art of tai chi — a Chinese exercise system for health meditation and self-defense.

Each year, the institute leads with educators recruited from the University to provide quality, reputable educational efforts that reflect MU Extension’s charge to bring research-based information and education to Missourians. Despite the economic downturn in FY 2009, with lower-than-expected enrollments due to potential students’ concerns about outliving their retirement funds and other investment accounts, the institute established significant new collaborative relationships.

To create a clearer sense of its purpose, the institute assigned FY 2009 courses into categories. Half of the offerings addressed either specific skills such as gardening or practical knowledge participants could expect to acquire such as estate planning. In contrast, a third of courses engaged students in history, literature and subjects in the arts to stimulate deeper cognition and reflection. Another important function of the program is to keep aging citizens informed about the continuously changing society and world we inhabit, and nearly 20 percent of OLLI courses take on that role. In all, the program provided 896 hours of instruction to Missourians, with 89,002 total contact hours across the state.

New computer equipment in the training labs for local students, as well as the installation of digital polycoms, higher-lumen LCD projectors and considerably improved lighting and sound, contributed to the institute’s success during FY 2009.

MU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Web site