Golden Gate Xpress | Osher Lifelong Learning Institute celebrates 20 years in SF State

Established in 2003, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is a professional development program that represents an active community of students aged 50+ who believe in lifelong learning through classes and activities.

OLLI offers more than 100 six-week courses and mini-courses annually, such as Cinema: Sin and Sex on the Big Screen and Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, taught by current and retired professors and other experts. At OLLI there are no exams or grades, and reading is always voluntary.

Flyers with membership and course information lie on a table at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of SF State on Monday, February 20, 2023. (David Jones / Golden Gate Xpress)

With the support of the OSHER Foundation, dedicated to providing scholarship, adult education, medical and arts programs in the Bay Area, OLLI is able to maintain the availability of its programs to the local community.

Program Director Kathy Bruin says OLLI’s funding is provided in part by the Bernard Osher Foundation, volunteers and community members.

“OLLI is a fully corporate effort by SF State. In other words, we spend what we collect and don’t receive any money from the university,” Brun said. “We have a $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation that is held and managed by the University Corporation at the university, so we get 5% of that every year and all other funding comes from membership and registration income for classes and then some fundraising.” She wrote via email.

For $55 per year, students can take advantage of online or face-to-face classes, language groups in Spanish, Italian, or French, writing poetry, debates on human evolution, and an SF state ID for pool and weight room access.

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“You take the courses that interest you with excellent teachers,” said Barbara Janney, a student of over 10 years.

According to Professor Linda Day, who is dedicated to teaching California architecture classes, “The students are enthusiastic, engaged, and have life experiences.”

According to SF President Lynn Mahoney, earning a college degree is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to educational, intellectual, and personal growth.

“SF State looks forward to the next 20 years of OLLI and hopes that our alumni, present and future, will take advantage of this incredible lifelong learning opportunity,” Mahoney said in an email.

For more information on volunteering and fundraising opportunities, visit the organization’s website. Their new facilities are located at 160 Spear Street.