Osher at RIT celebrates 30-year Milestone of Lifelong Learning

By on November 29, 2017
Osher at RIT lifelong learning organization first opened its doors in 1987. Credit: RIT Archives

Osher at RIT lifelong learning organization first opened its doors in 1987. Credit: RIT Archives

The brain never retires.

Proof is located within Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology (Osher at RIT) which now boasts 700 active members.

The stimulating environment for 50-plus learners has been a go-to place in the Greater Rochester community where people can continue to teach, learn and remain active in their retirement and semi-retirement years.

“This is a wonderful milestone for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, and we are grateful to the many volunteers who have given their time and talents to its mission, and to the staff who have supported the needs and goals of the membership over the past three decades,” said Deborah Stendardi, vice president for Government and Community Relations at RIT. “Osher is an important part of the RIT family, and we take great pride in its continued success as a learning academy for the greater community.”

The organization started in 1986 when Mark Blazey, then-RIT dean of training and professional development, visited the University of Delaware and was so impressed with its model of Individual Learning in Retirement (ILR) that he returned home and presented a plan to RIT’s Board of Trustees. A year later, “The Athenaeum” was born from RIT’s original name in 1829.

The current facility, Rivers Run, has 6,500 square feet of space and five classrooms. Osher at RIT offers 50-plus courses throughout the year where members share their life experiences, knowledge and genuine interests across a wide spectrum. There are no grades, no homework, no pressure—just plenty of feel-good camaraderie among thinkers who wish to share the sheer joy of learning.

“Osher is not an ‘institute’ but people,” said Thomas Low, Osher at RIT chair.  “It’s a community of people who wish to keep learning by taking classes in the arts, history, sciences and humanities.”

Marie Levin, who lives in Fairport, N.Y., retired 14 years ago and a new world of lifelong learning opened when she joined the organization. She started taking classes and eventually her interest was drawn to leading members into the realm of ancient history.

“This was a new experience after spending 35 years in the clinical laboratory business,” said Levin. “As a member-led organization, I became a member of the Osher Council and held various leadership positions.

“People have misconceptions about aging – and this is the opposite. These people are very, very energetic and active. To all members, a job well done as we celebrate our 30th anniversary.”

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