OLLI President's Message, April 24 By Bill Taylor, President
As we reach the midpoint in our spring term, I note that it was just over one month ago that we were confronted with the closure of our campuses and the need to decide whether to cancel classes for the term. I’m glad we decided not to do that, and instead to offer classes and other activities via Zoom. Your positive response since then has confirmed this decision. I appreciate the patience and cooperation you’ve shown as the new format has been rolled out. As you know, we will be using Zoom for the summer term, and will have to decide within the next few weeks whether that will continue into the fall.
I want to make sure you are aware, as Jennifer reported at our Board meeting last Friday, that the Mason feasibility assessment of the proposed ramp has identified other problems with the Tallwood campus. Mason is going to determine whether these should be fixed, or whether it makes more sense for them to find other space for us. We will advise you when we learn more. Should Tallwood be unavailable for an extended period, at least we know that we have the capability to offer classes remotely.
Summary Report of April 17 Board Meeting By Marguerite Johnson, Secretary
President Bill Taylor opened the meeting saying that two words—uncertainty and opportunity—are important for OLLI now. Our strategic planning discussions have included the use of technology in the future. The uncertainty of the COVID‑19 crisis gave OLLI the opportunity to now offer a robust program of remote classes that are accessible from our own homes. He noted that the COVID‑19 crisis will end, but we need to ensure we make good use of the lessons it forced us to learn about what is possible for OLLI.
Bill also reminded us of the coming election for Board members in May and thanked those ending their terms in June—Evan Douple, Gloria Loew, Mel Russell, Dave Talaber, David Osterman, and Paul Howard—for their significant contributions to OLLI.
Executive Director Jennifer Disano thanked the staff, volunteers, and teachers who spent long hours creating an engaging, high‑quality, educational program for our members. The spring online course offerings totaled 575 hours of programing.
As of March 10, 2020, annual membership was 1054; introductory membership was 36 for a total of 1090.
Jennifer reported that, while trying to design a ramp to make the lower level of Tallwood accessible to all members, Mason conducted an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) feasibility study. Jennifer met with the Mason associate provost on Tuesday to discuss status of the study. Results of the study revealed issues with the Tallwood facilities that may require extensive improvements. The university will now evaluate if funding those improvements provides a viable way forward or if an alternative space should be leased to host the OLLI program.
We had just chosen our courses from the fabulous spring catalog and were looking forward to seeing our OLLI friends again. Then came the news: OLLI would have to close. This was devastating to our program planners, who had spent weeks and months putting together an expansive collection of courses and activities. So much time on the telephone and email, in planning meetings, seeking out instructors to teach. The spring catalog stuffed with learning opportunities seemed suddenly such a waste.
Enter the cavalry. Our wonderful Executive Director Jennifer Disano summoned the troops and set to work to save the spring term. Our able staff tapped into the best technology at hand and began the process of moving the program online. Staff and volunteers set up equipment. Calls went out to implore instructors to proceed with their plans to teach, now to a camera and without a visible audience. A new schedule was created. The tasks were monumental and the learning curve steep.
Soon we had a new schedule featuring brave instructors who agreed to tackle largely unfamiliar ways of teaching. Some advantages emerged. Suddenly we all have access to courses in all three sites without having to travel. Everyone can sign up for the Mason Faculty Club Series, Part 2 (F902), featuring lectures by Mason professors. Yes, there are lots of limitations—we don’t have the pleasure of visiting with our OLLI friends in person. But OLLI members have remained flexible in the face of these new challenges.
Like my OLLI friends, now I’ll look forward to “virtual travel” from one OLLI site to another and enjoy these experiences:
Hear Dr. Irmgard Sherer’s talks on Existentialism (F654)
Visit Renaissance Florence with Tom Manteuffel (F104)
“Travel” to Loudoun to learn more about the U.S. Constitution with Heather Dudley (L306)
Learn how to “Fight Fake News” with NewseumED in Reston (R707)
Join all members for OLLI’s Annual Meeting on May 1 (1105)
We have many opportunities to be productive while we practice social distancing in these uncertain times, thanks to the efforts of so many amazing volunteers and staff. We all send our heartfelt thanks to these incredibly dedicated people who have stepped up to the challenge and given us back our OLLI program. We know now that the summer term will also be a Zoom experience, but OLLI members have shown that they’re up to the challenge. And program planners will put those missed courses and trips on hold for a future term.
In Memoriam: Col. James J. Dunphy, OLLI Member Extraordinaire By Martha Powers, Former OLLI Member
Hail fellow well met. Life of the party. Smart, funny guy. Santa Claus!
My dear OLLI friend, Jim Dunphy, was all of these and much more. When I met him several years ago, soon after he joined OLLI, he lit up upon hearing that many instructors were OLLI members. My first impression of Jim was, “Wow. This guy will never need a microphone!”
Jim became one of OLLI’s most popular instructors, offering classes in music, history, literature, and sports. His “Baseball Promotions Gone Bad” was a hilarious example of his knack for creating wait-listed presentations driven by slide shows and video clips—in this case, enhanced by an impressive bobble-head collection. Jim was never boring.
When he first played Santa Claus at our third annual Christmas in July party at Tallwood, Jim already had his own Santa outfit and didn’t need padding or a fake beard. As he burst into the room with a robust “HO! HO! HO!” everyone jumped in their chairs.
No, Jim Dunphy never needed a microphone.
From the beginning, Jim jumped into OLLI with both feet, not only teaching but volunteering for many other duties. He trained liaisons, delivered donated eyeglasses, chaired a teach-the-teacher committee, and managed parties and the Veterans Day event. He also served on the Board of Directors.
We lost Jim Dunphy to cancer on April 13, but for many of us, he will always be Santa Claus. Larger than life, jovial, and tirelessly devoted to OLLI.
The OLLI Photo Club was well represented again in this year’s 10th Annual Joseph Miller Abstract Photography Exposition as several members had one or more photographs juried into the competition. Unfortunately, due to the COVID‑19 restrictions, there will not be a physical exhibition this year, according to Matthew Schmidt, an official for the competition. The images that were selected for this year’s competition will be exhibited online in the Northern Virginia Alliance of Camera Clubs (NVACC) Gallery beginning May 1.
“The Miller competition is one of the most prestigious venues for abstract photography,” said Dan Feighery, who, along with his wife Jean, has had photographs selected for the last several years.
Entries must originate as photographs but may be altered electronically or otherwise to reflect an abstract image that plays on the senses and emotions. Some consider abstracts difficult to master or even understand because of the lack of a central subject to “carry” the image. What do you think?
Below are some of the photo club members’ abstract photographs in this year’s competition.
Poem Submitted by an OLLI Member, Courtesy of the Poetry Workshop
DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS
A dive in the DOW
No dining out or drinking in bars
Go out armed with sanitizers, wipes and gloves
No browsing in stores or on library shelves
You can still shop for food but they won’t have what you need.
Stay six feet away from your family and friends
And further away from everyone else.
Isolation reigns and uncertainty rules.
You can still hug your trees
But pray your computer’s immune to this thing. -- Phyllis Furdell
George Mason University has canceled performances at the Center for the Arts and the Hylton Center until further notice. You can check the Mason website atcoronavirus websitefor updates.
Meetings & Clubs
Please note: Physical meetings for clubs and activities are canceled until further notice in accordance with Mason’s guidelines. OLLI is exploring ways to conduct its classes and activities online. Refer to the university's coronavirus website for official university updates and check the OLLI Calendar for revised information.
The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but for the most up-to-date information, please view the latest forecast of coming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend (online), meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below).
OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Associate Editor: David Gundry
Weekly Editor Team: David Gundry, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Susan Van Hemel, Linda Randall, Tom Appich, Roz Stark,
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark
Submissions: Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles, and photos. Submit material to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: Tuesday, 6:00, for that week's issue (Monday, 6:00, for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words. Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by "site:olli.gmu.edu/" without the quotes.