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USF's Osher institute extends lifelong learning to Brandon area

RIVERVIEW — Learning, the adage says, is a lifelong process, and it's getting a boost in the coming months from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Florida.

The Osher institute is hoping to add six unique courses during its winter term — January through April — to foster curiosity and healthy mental aging. The classes would be offered at The Regent as well as the Brandon Senior Center. An open house to kick off the term is Jan. 19.

With about 1,100 students enrolled throughout Hillsborough County, Osher institute coordinator Joseph McAuliffe says it wasn't a hard choice to add classes in Brandon/Riverview.

"A number of our members live in eastern Hillsborough County and have wanted closer programs," McAuliffe said. "So it's partially in response to that, and we've also built a wonderful relationship with the Brandon Senior Center as well as The Regent."

While the decision to bring the courses to East Hillsborough is a new idea, holding courses for seniors is not.

Originally, the courses were called USF Senior Programs with two divisions. One was called Learning in Retirement, which offered arts and science classes. The other was Senior Net, which offered computer and technology classes, McAuliffe said. "We merged into what has now become the OLLI program at USF around 2005."

In an attempt to remove what McAuliffe believes is a "juvenile approach" to senior education programs, the course structure, unique to average college and university courses, carries much of the appeal. No homework or testing is required, but the classes are interactive, taught by a professional and often require reading. The cost— averaging around $40 for a six-week course— makes the program more affordable, as well.

The course structure is appealing to the volunteer instructors as well, one of whom is a retired teacher of more than half a century — American short stories instructor and USF alumnus Jerry Noland.

"It's a wonderful opportunity because I have no lesson plans or papers to grade and it's just the joy of teaching to these enthusiastic students who want to be there as opposed to being obligated to be there," Noland said.

"When I taught at the college and high school level, we were constricted to certain things we had to teach, but because these students come from such a variety of backgrounds and have such life experiences, they see things in such a unique way."

The Osher institute, funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation, was created by philanthropist Bernard Osher with a vision of higher education for seniors in mind and has now partnered with 119 colleges and universities nationwide.

"The human mind needs to continue to be challenged and stimulated and so you want to make sure you're providing high quality education to older adults, which is also what they really desire," said McAuliffe."

An open house will be held 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at The Regent, 6437 Watson Road, Riverview, for those interested to meet instructors and learn more about them and their courses.

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.


>>IF YOU GO

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Florida holds its Brandon/Riverview area Winter Open House 10 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Regent, 6437 Watson Road in Riverview. The Open House will offer complimentary breakfast snacks and feature the OLLI-USF faculty who will teach there this upcoming winter term. There is no charge for the event and there is plenty of accessible parking. For more information, call Joseph R. McAuliffe at (813) 974-5166 and visit OLLI's web page usfseniors.org. To RSVP for the Brandon/Riverview Open House, leave a message at (813) 974-8036.

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