From the Desk of the Executive Director The Challenge of Recruiting and Retaining Members
By Jennifer Disano, Executive Director
Recently I was asked to say a few words about “your greatest challenge” in business. This type of question used to elicit very pat responses related to funding or facilities challenges. Although those two issues are still a constant, I’d have to say our biggest current challenge relates to membership. We’re in good shape, all things considered. However, especially since the start of the pandemic, OLLI has seen a dip in membership. I am hopeful this trend will be reversed in 2022. Helping us through the crisis, we must thank our true-blue group of “regulars” who rejoin OLLI year after year. These folks are our steadfast supporters, and we are endlessly grateful for their commitment.
Indeed, many of our members have rejoined after an absence from OLLI, as the innovation of remote access has opened a conduit for people who have moved or can no longer drive to enjoy our program. To those returning members we say, “Welcome back. We missed you!” Finally, our newest members have taken advantage of the promotional rate to join OLLI for the first time, and they are exploring and enjoying all the wonderful programs available in our amazing catalog. To them we offer a hearty, “Welcome to OLLI!”
As we continue to weather the storm of the pandemic, it’s important for all of us to remember that members are the lifeblood of OLLI, and the most effective means of recruitment is through members encouraging friends, family, and colleagues to learn of all that OLLI offers. Now, with the virtual option, anyone can join from anywhere! To that end, please share with all you know, your experiences at OLLI and how much OLLI means to you. Your personal testimonial is the best endorsement. Please include in your message resources such as OLLI’s website, catalog, and OLLI’s free YouTube channel “OLLI George Mason” and let folks know they can join now at the low $300.00 promotional rate for new members or members returning after a lapse of one year or more. Thank you for your efforts in overcoming our greatest challenge, and for your commitment to keeping OLLI strong.
The regular meeting of the Board of Directors was held virtually January 21, 2022.
OLLI President Paul Howard asked the Board to approve the appointment of Peter Ansoff to fill the position of David Talaber, who resigned in December. Peter was approved unanimously.
Bob Heyer volunteered to chair the Nominating Committee to solicit candidates for election to Board terms beginning in 2022.
Executive Director Jennifer Disano reported that construction continues at the Tallwood campus in Fairfax. Classroom improvements to provide hybrid instruction equipment are also in progress. Committee meetings and meetings with OLLI members are continuing at all three campuses.
Jennifer reported that currently the total membership is 1026 (1003 annual, 18 introductory and five lifetime members).
Two resolutions were approved by the Board:
Resolution 220121-01. Resolved, the OLLI Board of Directors approves official signers (board officers and executive director) to establish a Charity Charge Nonprofit Business Credit Card through Commerce Bank for use by the executive director and staff.
Resolution 220121-02. Resolved, the OLLI Board of Directors approves the final 2022 Budget.
Share Your Ideas at the Upcoming 2022 History Course Planning Session
By Bernie Oppel, History Program Planning Group Co-Chair
The History Program Planning Group will meet via ZOOM on February 3 at 1:15. Look for the Zoom login link in the OLLI Daily Schedule email. Program coordinators Shannon Kim Morrow and Nancy Klein will attend and help facilitate the meeting. The session will review the line-up of future OLLI history courses and propose new offerings for fall 2022 and beyond.
We encourage participation by all OLLI members. We welcome your suggestions for topics and possible instructors for future courses. We especially try to solicit multiple-session courses for presentation across the three OLLI campuses.
If you have always wanted to teach a history course at OLLI, now is the time to volunteer your knowledge and instructor skills. We are interested in courses in underrepresented areas, including China/Far East, South America, and the Middle East, as well as women’s history and social history topics. Also, starting in fall 2022, OLLI Loudoun will sponsor another in its series of “Year of” courses, with a focus on Germany. Vera Wentworth is coordinating course topics and instructors for this program.
The History Program Planning Group looks forward to your participation and suggestions on February 3. Thank you.
History Club to Explore Rise and Fall of the German Democratic Republic
By Elizabeth Lambert, History Club Coordinator
The first virtual meeting of the History Club for 2022 will take place on Wednesday, February 2 at 4:00. Bernie Oppel will be presenting on “The Other Germany: Rise and Fall of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).” As you know, Bernie is a popular OLLI teacher and a program planner for history courses.
Those of us of a certain age and/or who visited Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall have vivid memories of life in and around the GDR. Bernie is going to talk about the sudden fall of the GDR—how and why it collapsed after 40 years of existence. The short answer is that it could not compete economically with West Germany, but, as with all short answers, there is much more to it. Bernie will supply these important details, some of which may be surprising.
At this meeting we will also talk about the idea of dedicating a couple of History Club meetings a year to discussing a book of general historical interest which will be chosen a couple of months ahead of time. A member with some knowledge of the subject could lead the discussion. This would be a way of actively involving club members in the meeting. All members—and non-members who think this is an important change—please let your voice be heard.
Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the History Club when you register for classes each term. (Formerly a once-a-year task, now we must do it every term.)
I hope to see you all at the meeting Wednesday, February 2 at 4:00. It promises to be an interesting one. Remember—all OLLI members and their guests are invited to History Club meetings.
Staged Reading and Talkback, plus The Art of Love, Make for Free, Fabulous February Theater
By Norma Jean Reck, Theater Lovers’ Group Coordinator
As the song says, "The weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, ..." but because we are OLLI with Mason's topnotch School of Theater (SOT) in our backyard and Zoom technology in our toolbox, we do have places to go, people to meet, and new aspects of theater to explore.
On Thursday, February 10, at 7:30 via Zoom, Mason's student actors and playwrights will present a Staged Reading and Talkback of their contributions to this year's 1,001 Plays.1,001 Plays is an annual 10-minute-play festival by Global Partners worldwide, the first international play exchange of its kind. Each year, all the plays center around one theme. The theme this year is Trust. Universities participating in the play exchange are from South Korea, Kenya, China, Brazil, Canada, and Peru.
Co-directors Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, associate professor of theater, and Nicholas Kfoury Horner, program manager of SOT, began Mason's program several years ago. Students from each university write, perform, direct, and serve as dramaturg for original works exploring multiple perspectives on a single idea. The performances will be live online, followed by a talkback, allowing students and audience members to share, reflect and respond. For more information and to register for this free event, please go to this link by Monday, February 7, or RSVP to Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, February 20, from 4:00 to 5:00, the Friends of Theater at Mason will present The Art of Love: For Sentimental Reasons, under the able direction of Mason professors Erin Gardner and Joe Walsh. Feel free to invite family or friends to celebrate with you. Just sit back, relax with your favorite refreshment, and enjoy talented Mason theater students performing a classic Shakespearean love scene, sentimental music a la Duke Ellington, and more. The free musical program will be brought to you via Zoom. Details to follow. For this program, you can also RSVP to Amanda at email@example.com.
The class 978 Tour of Capital One Hall, presented Friday, January 21, by Matea Magnano, was recorded. If you missed the class, you can find the recording under the Quick Links menu at the OLLI website. For a direct link to class recordings, click here. The password required to access class videos can be found on OLLI’s Daily Schedule email. For a virtual tour of the venue go to www.capitalonehall.com.
Please note that there will be a change in the presentation of my course Anglo-Indian Novels: The Raj, its Aftermath & Diaspora. It will now be offered online. Everything else remains the same: time, day, subject matter.
In this class, we will read E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, Paul Scott's The Jewel in the Crown (Raj Quartet 1), and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. We'll explore a tradition of literature, colonialist and native cultural interactions, migrancy itself, gender faultlines, what we mean by our identity, belonging, and castes. We'll include in our discussions Anglo-Indian movies as a genre and see parts of and talk specifically about David Lean's Passage to India, the BBC's Jewel in the Crown, and Merchant-Ivory's Shakespeare Wallah. We'll take historical and contemporary perspectives on this rich material.
By Kosmo Tatalias, Art/Music Program Planning Group Co-chair
A facility with a stage suitable for large-scale music and dance performances as well as other arts-related amenities has been proposed for Reston Town Center. For plan details, click here. This venue could potentially benefit OLLI’s visual and performing arts programs offered at the Reston campus.
This is your opportunity to express your opinion about the usefulness of this center. A series of Monday-evening community outreach meetings to assess the need for such a facility will be held by architectural firm Grimm + Parker from February to April as follows:
February 14, Kickoff meeting
February 28, Performing Arts
March 14, Visual Arts
March 28, Arts Education, Schools, Equity/Opportunity Neighborhoods
April 4, General Wrap-up.
Meetings will start at 6:30, the first three at the Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods and the last two via Zoom.
To RSVP for meetings, email RCCContact@fairfaxcounty.gov. Include your name, home address, email address, and the date(s) of the meeting(s) you wish to attend. Please identify yourself as an OLLI member. Links to online meetings will be sent to those requesting them.
The lowly mushroom
nestled in the ground
has filaments extending
for miles that can even
break down solid rock.
During times of trouble and stress
Family, church, and community colleagues
reach out and help those who need it
to bring meals, to help shop
and provide filaments of light and support
when things are dark.
We were facing limited mobility
And taking care of our son out of the hospital.
Our grandson came
down from Pittsburgh to be a designated driver
for a week
and was a source of light and laughter.
Our daughter came up from Texas
for another week
and spent the whole day
with my son in the emergency room.
Our church friends helped with shopping
and brought by support meals--
Even those who did not us know us very well.
In times of troubles
They appeared all around us
with filaments of light and support.
As Mason’s campuses reopen, programs are offered at both Fairfax and Manassas campuses, along with virtual events. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result is required for all audience members. Dr. Linda Apple Monson produces a periodic “Notes from the Director.” This email is full of interesting online performances by the students and faculty of the School of Music. If you would like to receive these bulletins, just send an email to Brianna Schoen firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the Center for the Arts has a website,Mason Arts at Home, which has a calendar of online events and access to many past performances.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturday, Jan 29, 8:00
Admission: $75, $60, $45.
Virginia Opera: Three Decembers
Sat, Feb 5, 8:00
Sun, Feb 6, 2:00
A pre-performance discussion will take place in Monson Grand Tier, which is located on the third level of the Center for the Arts Lobby, 45 minutes prior to curtain.
Admission: $110, $70, $40.
Please note: Physical meetings for clubs and activities are canceled until further notice in accordance with Mason’s guidelines. OLLI is conducting 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. 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, meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below). The OLLI office has sent (or will send) emails with links and meeting passwords to club members; you may also log in at the member portal and click on ZOOM CLASS LINKS.
Sat Jan 29
Tai Chi Club
Tue Feb 1
Tai Chi Club
Wed Feb 2
Mah Jongg Club
Thu Feb 3
History Program Planning Group Meeting
Tai Chi Club
Fri Feb 4
Craft and Conversation
Classic Literature Club
Sat Feb 5
Tai Chi Club
Mon Feb 7
Loudoun & Reston Program Planning Group Meeting
Tue Feb 8
Tai Chi Club
Wed Feb 9
Memoir and More Writing Group
Ethnic Eats Club
Thu Feb 10
Tai Chi Club
Fri Feb 11
Craft and Conversation
Classic Literature Club
Tallwood Book Club
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