On Monday November 9, Executive Director Jennifer Disano, Vice President Mel Russell, and I met via Zoom for 30 minutes with Mason Provost Dr. Mark Ginsberg; Renate Guilford, associate provost, academic administration; Sarah Parnell, executive assistant for the vice president-executive innovation and new ventures; and Laura Manno, director, strategic academic & facilities planning.
The meeting went well, with good news for our continued use of Tallwood. Mason will be completing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, scheduled for completion mid-summer, to allow ease of access between lower Tallwood—the trailers—and the restrooms. At least two restrooms will be getting ADA upgrades. A first round of additional repairs and maintenance corrections will be undertaken as a near-term investment in Tallwood. The Mason representatives assured us that the university would be able to assist with design for the hybrid environment of in-person classes with Zoom, having found cost-effective ways of so doing.
We also received assurances that OLLI will be included in the long-term planning for Mason facilities, a process not scheduled to conclude for at least a year. This encompasses the Fairfax, Arlington, and Manassas campuses (and no doubt Loudoun, although that wasn’t mentioned.)
Dr. Ginsberg was very complimentary of OLLI, noting that he has enjoyed teaching for us over the years—and is planning to sign up on retirement! Mason is using every inch of space throughout the enterprise, for classes in the new environment, and has extreme budget pressure as a result of all the issues arising from COVID. Mason’s efforts have resulted in its community having the lowest infection rate of any Virginia educational enterprise. And additional good news—enrollment is up by 900 students over last year!
President Paul Howard opened the November 6 Town Hall meeting by welcoming new members to OLLI, including 24 introductory members, 85 new full-term members, and 343 renewing full members. Combined with those joining in earlier terms, we have a total membership of 1,071, down from 1,152 members at the same time last year.
Paul went on to review the growth of OLLI at George Mason University. Investigations of Fairfax County senior learning opportunities beginning in 1984 led to the establishment in 1991 of the Learning in Retirement Institute (LRI) at Mason, with 41 classes and events over two terms available to 137 members at annual dues of $200 ($385 in 2020 dollars). LRI moved to Tallwood in 1994 and installed TA‑3 in in 1996. That year there were 75 classes and 300 members.
A membership limit of 400‑440 between ’96 and ’99 resulted in one semester when 90 people applied and only 30 were accepted! LRI expanded to Reston in 1999 with classes held at the Washington Plaza Baptist Church.
The year 2000 saw a membership of 600 and the installation of TA‑2. In 2004 we received a $100,000 grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation and, as required, changed our name to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University. In 2005 we received another $100,000 grant, a large portion of which went to help support an Executive Director. In 2006 we received a $1,000,000 endowment, which resides with the George Mason University Foundation.
In 2007 we saw the beginning of classes on the Mason campus in Loudoun. When we reached 1,000 members in 2012, we received another $1,000,000 grant from the Osher Foundation. From the investment proceeds of these grants we receive $85,000‑90,000 annually, depending on the stock market.
In 2020 we’re Zooming along with 237 courses, 32 events, and one trip. Online classes have proved to be very popular. We plan to continue them alongside physical meetings after COVID, but it will be an expensive process. We will be working with Mason to explore hybrid classes.
Executive Director Jennifer Disano discussed the recent Osher Institutes national conference. There are 124 Osher Institutes with the oldest at 54 years and the youngest at 3 years. Eighty-two offer travel opportunities. The median membership is 1,196 with an average of 219 volunteers. In total, there are 200,000 OLLI members operating with 27,111 volunteers. Nationally $4,478,000 was raised in donations to OLLI programs. Jennifer shared a video of Mr. and Mrs. Osher speaking of what inspired their interest in starting lifelong learning institutes. Like us, Mrs. Osher recognizes the importance of the sorely missed social interaction provided by OLLI membership.
We will talk about all of the fabulous presentations being planned for OLLI for spring term 2021 and beyond. All of these great programs are designed and coordinated by members like you who volunteer their time to shape the OLLI curriculum. You do not need to be an expert in curriculum development or education management, and you can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. There is no pressure. So join us; brainstorm on classes; make some new friends; have fun!
Co-Chair, Humanities and Social Sciences Program Planning Group/History and Current Events Program Planning Group
Are you well-versed on award-winning movies directed by Elia Kazan? Are you interested in presenting an OLLI course discussing social commentary shown in his films?
The Humanities and Social Sciences Program Planning Group is looking for a person well-versed on films directed by Elia Kazan. Films of particular interest include A Face in the Crowd, A Streetcar Named Desire, Gentlemen’s Agreement, and On the Waterfront.
Many OLLI students have expressed interest in films and the arts, so an audience awaits you. If this opportunity piques your interest, please contact the following program planning group co-chairs and share your plan. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
‘Tis the season to celebrate. On Wednesday, December 2, join us as we explore Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa traditions around the world. Test your trivia skills and enjoy musical presentations. Come dressed in your holiday finest, it will be a virtual meeting format.
We would like to highlight holiday traditions from our members. If you would like to give a short (2 minute) presentation on traditions of your family or of your ancestral country, please contact Elaine Leonard at email@example.com. Register for the special event 1107 Annual Holiday Party on the OLLI member portal.
Join your OLLI friends at the Coffee Klatch on Friday, November 20, from 9:30 to 11:00. See what everyone is up to before we all head out for Christmas break, and hear from some of the OLLI instructors who will be teaching classes this winter. Registration starts on November 30, so this is a perfect time to find out more about classes you might be thinking of taking next term.
Register for Event #1206 via the member portal or contact the registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you decide at the last minute you want to join us, just look for the link in the emailed daily schedule. Everyone is welcome!
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, November 21 via Zoom. Program activities begin at 1:00.
Quick and Easy Tips for Speaking in the Virtual World will be presented by Frank DiBartolomeo. Frank will describe the various virtual communication methods (they’re not all video platforms); discuss the pros and cons of virtual communication; provide numerous, practical, and immediately usable ways to enhance your virtual presentations; and explain the Zoom virtual platform in detail.
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel. His expertise as an engineer and technical leader resulted in assignments at the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Pentagon, and in industry. An award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and professional member of the National Speakers Association, Frank was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster.
Oh Snap for Windows 10 is a Learn-in-30 presentation by John Krout. Snap is a feature of screen window interaction on Windows 10 with advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that Snap may force a window to occupy the entire screen when that is not what you intend. John will show you how Snap can be a disadvantage, how to disable Snap on Windows 10, and how use of application windows changes after you disable Snap.
John Krout is a regular speaker at OPCUG/PATACS meetings, author of numerous articles in the PATACS Posts newsletter and many of the Zoom help tips on the PATACS website.
Attend via Zoom’s cloud meeting service, beginning at 1:00. Please click this link to join the webinar and use passcode 728227, or enter this meeting ID 937 3024 4342 from ‘Join’ in the Zoom app and use passcode 728227.
OLLI writers—beginners and experienced—take note: OLLI Ink is now accepting submissions, including poems, fiction, personal essays, and memoirs for its 2021 edition.
Now moving into its eleventh year, OLLI Ink is a well-established publication whose contributors come from a wide spectrum of OLLI members, including, but not limited to, those enrolled in writing workshops.
How to Submit: Please send your entries and/or any questions to Caroline McNeil at email@example.com.
Poems – limit number of lines to 30.
Prose – limit number of words to 2,500, single-spaced.
Contributions are welcome starting now through the end of February.
Although Mason’s campus is shut down, online entertainment continues for us to access and enjoy. 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 websiteMason Arts at Home, which has a calendar of online events and access to many past performances. Information can also be found atCFA ticket purchase pageor theHylton ticket purchase page.
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 Nov 14
Tai Chi Club
Mon Nov 16
Tue Nov 17
Spanish Club Loudoun Program Planning Group Literature, Theater, and Writing/Languages Program Planning Group
Tai Chi Club
Wed Nov 18
Mah Jongg Club
Tom Crooker Investment Forum
Ethnic Eats Lunch Club
Thu Nov 19
Tai Chi Club
Fri Nov 20
Craft & Conversation Grab ‘n’ Gab Coffee Klatch Board of Directors Meeting
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: email@example.com. 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.