It’s been barely a month since COVID-19 began to impact OLLI, and we’ve had to react quickly to events. I want to bring you up to date as best I can. First, we’ve successfully transitioned our in-person classes, clubs, and social events to remote access using ZOOM. We are offering about 575 hours (about 60% of the catalog listings) of programming, which includes about 50 multi-session classes, 31 single-session classes, plus 12 clubs, 10 socials, and 5 open-to-the-public lectures. The remainder will be rescheduled for future terms. Not only are we offering 60% of the programming listed in our spring catalog, we are offering it in the most convenient venue of all—our own home. I think when viewed in this light our spring program fully justifies the dues our members have paid.
The Board has been active during the past month trying to chart our course in this changing environment. The Executive Committee of the Board (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Executive Director) has met at least weekly via ZOOM. On two occasions we submitted resolutions to the Board for a vote by email, as authorized by the Board Handbook, because we could not wait for the monthly meeting. The first vote approved a temporary modification to our check signing procedures to dispense with the need for physical signatures, but with electronic verification of the necessary approvals. The second authorized OLLI’s applications to the state of Virginia for three different loans/grants under the CARES Act. We felt this was a necessary action because of the current financial uncertainty, potential loss of revenue, and the extra staff time and other costs related to our conversion to remote classes.
We do not know how long this crisis will be with us, but it is my job, and that of the Board and the Executive Director, to find the best path for the present, and try to position the organization for the future. I want to assure you of our commitment to doing so and ask for your continued support.
Board of Directors Election in the Time of COVID-19
By Marianne Metz, 2020 Nominating Committee Chair
The OLLI 2020 election for its next Board of Directors may be the farthest thing from many members’ minds. But, our current national situation notwithstanding, the OLLI election is proceeding. Last week, you should have received (by email) an official notice of annual meeting and election. This notified our OLLI membership of the May 1 annual meeting and candidate forum. That morning (May Day!), you can “attend” by going to https://zoom.us/j/912344781 or by telephoning 1-301-715-8592 and specifying Webinar ID 912 344 781. Attendees will hear from our Board President and our Executive Director on where we stand, and where we may be going.
And then our six Board candidates will give brief remarks to introduce themselves. They will take questions from members, who will be unmuted, one by one, for that purpose. Online balloting will begin that day and run for the next two weeks.
Our slate of candidates consists of Bob Heyer, Paul Howard, Gloria Loew, David Osterman, Mel Russell, and Dave Talaber. All but Bob Heyer are incumbents serving on the current Board. They are running for three-year terms beginning in June 2020.
We are grateful to these dedicated individuals whose experience, skills, and energy are needed now more than ever as our OLLI faces unprecedented challenges.
I am grateful to my fellow members of the 2020 Nominating Committee—Ray Beery, Liz Bolton, Mary Kornreich, Norma Reck, Charlie Silver, Tom Urman, and Rita Way—who have carried on in difficult circumstances.
By Rod Zumbro, OLLI E-News Creator and Editor Emeritus (2005-2013)
You’re reading OLLI E-News today because when I decided to step down as longtime editor, Gordon Canyock took over and made sure that E-News continued. Without his leadership and efforts, OLLI might never have come up with a different newsletter format and staff of volunteers to replace my original E‑News.
In 2005 Gordon and I were active OLLI volunteers who were both concerned about the lack of timely information being provided to the membership. We decided to start what we called OLLI E‑News, a weekly email newsletter whose format I created, with articles, photos, color, and clickable links. We just did it, without seeking approval, and it became a hit. I asked members to write articles and wrote some myself, then edited it weekly, doing email reviews of draft issues with a team (e.g., Gordon, Barbara Kyriakakis, and John West) to make each issue as perfect as possible.
My friend the colonel, a true officer and gentleman, was OLLI’s éminence grise (a powerful unofficial adviser) to the Board because he knew the history and details of almost everything that had happened as OLLI grew from small to much larger decades later. He kept volunteering at OLLI and remained incredibly optimistic about life until the end. Rest in peace, Gordon.
Friends who wish to remember Gordon’s deep voice and see him perform in a short clip are invited to watch my 2011 video called “The Story of OLLI” (click https://olli.gmu.edu/the-olli-story-movie/) that Gordon narrated; ending credits include his reflections about OLLI.
The Computer Club (OLLI Personal Computer User Group, or OPCUG) will meet with its partner, the Potomac Area Technology and Computer Society (PATACS), on Saturday, April 18, via Zoom webinar—see below. Program activities begin at 1:00 (no Learn in 30 that day).
History of Computers: How We Got Here—Part 1, Presented by Lorrin Garson; starts at 1:20. The technology of modern computers goes back to the early 19th century with most of the advancements occurring in our lifetime. You will learn how weaving, mathematics, the telephone and cryptology played important roles and how the basic laws of chemistry and physics apply. Contributors to the development of computers include mathematical geniuses and hippies, aristocrats and the poverty-stricken, men and women, party animals, and withdrawn neurotics. No one person or group invented the computer. Our computers are the creation of many interesting people and several disparate technologies.
Lorrin Garson had a long career in technical publishing of chemical information. His presentations to our computer groups are famous for their thorough research and clarity in explaining topics such as cryptography, encryption of personal data, cloud storage, and the origins of personal computers.
Are You Tired of Being at Home All Day? Join OLLI’s Virtual Coffee Klatch
By Toni Acton, Member Services Committee Chair
OLLI has been closed for over four weeks and if you’re like me, you’re starting to get bored at home, while missing your OLLI friends. If you are one of these people, then grab a cup of tea or coffee, a pastry, and join our virtual coffee klatch on Friday mornings at 10:00.
Our first coffee klatch had 24 participants, and we hope to double that as the weeks go by. In addition to checking in on everyone’s mental health during this stressful time, we’ll have a specific topic each week—the one this Friday, April 10, will be “Your Favorite Travel Adventure.” Topics for subsequent weeks will include “Your Favorite Decade,” “Your Favorite Book or Streaming Movie,” and, in May, we’ll have some OLLI instructors discuss upcoming summer classes.
The link for these coffees can be found in the Communicator that comes out on Sunday and the OLLI Google Calendar, as well as in the table of Meetings & Clubs near the end of this issue of E-News.
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 table below provides information for online meetings/activities.
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.