As the flagship institution of higher learning in Utah, the U is uniquely positioned to spread awareness of the importance of lifelong learning. While many students only take advantage of the university resources for about five years, the Department of Continuing Education & Community Engagement (CECE) encourages everyone to take advantage of all the U has to offer well beyond the years they are working toward a degree.
“Education is a resource that people can and should tap into throughout their entire lives,” said Jodi Emery, interim executive associate dean of CECE. “We’re really trying to spread the idea that learning is central to living a good life from age 5 to 105.”
In an effort to allow people to connect with the university at any point in their life, CECE offers a variety of programs introducing youth to higher education and classes open to adults 18 and older regardless of educational background. Serving those age 50 and better is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, currently celebrating its 15th year at the U.
“We now have more than 1,800 Osher members and it continues to grow every year,” said Emery. “Most of the feedback has been about how much our members love the opportunity to build community on campus as well as the quality of the instructors. That’s what really keeps them coming back and filling our classes.”
In honor of Osher’s 15th anniversary, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert declared the week of Aug. 12-16, 2019, as Lifelong Learning Week. CECE kicked off the celebration with its annual open house on Aug. 8 with Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, as the keynote speaker.
More than 1,700 people have attended courses & activities at our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute since its founding in 2004. Delighted to join the celebration of its accomplishments at yesterday’s open house & share where @UUtah is headed with great audience! @UofUcontinue pic.twitter.com/O0CR7eOTF7
— UofUProvost (@UofUProvost) August 9, 2019
“Having Vice President Reed speak really helped our Osher community members feel like they truly are a part of the university,” said Emery. “They definitely appreciated the opportunity and took advantage of the time to engage with him and ask questions.”
Many Osher members are U alumni, staff and faculty while others are visiting the campus for the first time. Emery said several emeritus faculty members teach for Osher and have expressed they get a lot of fulfillment out of being able to teach in a whole new way.
“People are living longer and continuing to learn is one way to ensure they continue living a vibrant life,” said Emery. “We wanted to use the celebration of Osher’s 15th anniversary to communicate to all of Utah that our system of education sees the value in lifelong learning and we’re so excited that the both Gov. Herbert and Vice President Reed honored and participated in that effort.”
Emery said they hope to continue growing and enriching the program so even more community members age 50 and up can add more life to their years.
“We don’t want to just stay home all day,” said Sandy Dolowitz, who joined his wife, Anne, as an Osher member after he retired. “We need mental stimulation to stay smart!”
The couple said they have made deep friendships with fellow Osher members who they have enjoyed many lunches, dinners, study groups and travels with.
“Everyone at Osher has something to share,” said Anne Dolowitz. “Our friends expand our interests, so we love Osher. We don’t know what we would do without it.”