Community Contributor: OLLI helps enrich lives in Ashland and Medford

OLLI members come for the classes …. and stay for the connections.

 Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Southern Oregon University (OLLI at SOU) is the Rogue Valley’s premier choice for staying intellectually stimulated and socially connected.

This 1,400-member organization offers non-credit classes on two campuses — the SOU Campbell Campus in Ashland and the RCC-SOU Higher Education Center in Medford. The program is geared towards those ages 50 and over.

As a member-run program, OLLI at SOU relies on the talent, skill and energy of its members to design and teach the classes, to serve on the OLLI council and its committees, and to support its various community activities.

A $125 annual fee entitles members to enroll in an unlimited number of classes (space permitting) from approximately 100 courses offered per term — or nearly 300 courses per year. There is no fee charged per course, making OLLI the best “edu-tainment” value in the Rogue Valley.

Learning is a pleasure for members and instructors alike, because there are no tests to take, no papers to write, and no grades to stress over.

 The range of courses offered is truly impressive, and includes topics in history and social sciences, language and literature, science and mathematics, visual and performing arts, activities and skills, health and physical education and personal exploration. (See the complete current course catalog at

 OLLI matters because it keeps members intellectually stimulated and engaged. For many older adults, OLLI’s rich, diverse curriculum expands the world of ideas, deepens understanding and activates neural pathways. But beyond the classroom, OLLI also opens the doors to new experiences and rewards, such as teaching a course for the first time or taking a leadership role.

 OLLI keeps members socially connected and involved. Through lively classroom discussions, social events, collaborative committee work, and governance opportunities, members can maintain vital social skills and discover new personal connections.

OLLI keeps members active in community affairs. Through active partnerships with many local non-profits, OLLI seeks to improve the quality of public discourse on a broad array of local and national topics and issues.

 The roots of OLLI at SOU date back to 1993, when SOU officials organized an earlier learning program known as Southern Oregon Learning in Retirement (SOLIR). In 2007 the local SOLIR group joined forces with the nationwide organization founded by businessman and philanthropist Bernard Osher.

 Through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the Bernard Osher Foundation supports lifelong learning for older adults on 119 campuses nationwide, with at least one OLLI group in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. (For information about OLLI programs on other campuses in the United States, visit:

 Participation as a volunteer deepens connections with other members and provides an opportunity to pursue interests and to develop new skills. Everyone has abilities that can be used to keep OLLI the outstanding organization that it is.

 For more information about OLLI, including a course catalog and a listing of free public lectures and events, visit or call 541-552-6048.











Share This Story