A town meeting was held at Tallwood beginning at 10am, on November 2, 2007. There were 51 people in attendance including 10 Board members and Dick Chobot, the Executive Director. Vice President Ben Gold presided.
Ben announced that the Board had passed a resolution not to extend the contract of the current ED for budgetary reasons. Ben thanked Dick Chobot for his service to OLLI, and those attending gave Dick a round of applause.
Treasurer Gordon Canyock presented a summary of the OLLI budget as follows. Budget amounts are in thousands of dollars:
Gordon pointed out that the 2007 budget indicates a $47,000 deficit whereas for 2008 the budget is balanced, as directed by the Board.
Kathryn Russell pointed out that rising gas prices could lead to our instructors requesting reimbursement for their travel expenses.
It was pointed out that when donations are made in someone’s honor an acknowledgment should be sent, and a member pointed out that this has not always been done in the past. Ben promised to follow through and make sure that would be done in the future.
Bruce Reinhart and Kathryn Russell gave a short presentation on the program. Bruce emphasized that our program at OLLI is excellent primarily because of who, where, and what we are. Fairfax County residents have the overall highest level of education of any county in the US, half of the ‘think tanks’ and policy centers in the U.S., an outstanding group of universities including GMU, and the Federal Government. Kathryn acknowledged the contribution of our 13 Resource Group chairs. She gave attendees a brief preview of some of the classes that have been lined up for the winter semester. Kathryn mentioned that the program committee is considering adding study groups as an alternative to lecture classes, and, as a test, one study group will be offered in the winter term.
There were questions about the registration system and the procedure for signing up for classes. Any class that is over subscribed is first assigned to those who have indicated the highest priority on their registration form. After that, classes are assigned by lottery. Members were urged to sign up and pay by credit card on line. If you sign up for a class, please attend or drop the course. In the interest of accurate statistics, if you are not listed on the sign in sheet, please add your name and check it off. It was emphasized that since over-subscribed classes are assigned by lottery, there is no longer any advantage to being first in line when registration opens.
Membership chair Debbie Halverson read from a prepared statement. We currently have 750 members, including 88 new members. Volunteers are needed in all areas. The yard sale proceeds were $1177.16. The yard sale proved to be a lot of work but the participants enjoyed the experience. A silent auction is being planned for the spring. The Membership Committee is preparing a survey on members’ interest in social activities. The Membership Committee will be meeting on November 15 and OLLI members are encouraged to attend. Additional movies have been scheduled for Friday afternoons.
Dick Chobot commented that he believes the Loudoun experiment, which started in the spring, is looking promising. The problem remains that there is currently a different fee structure for Loudoun, and this will need to be resolved. Currently under consideration is a joint catalog. Dick assured us that OLLI currently has an outstanding staff and the “organization will not miss a beat” with his leaving.
There followed questions and answers on a variety of issues, including the following.
Q Relating to the yard sale, were there mostly OLLI members in attendance?
A There were plenty of outsiders.
Q Regarding the previous survey, were the results reported?
A The results appeared in OLLI E-News, and Kathryn Russell used some of the results for locating potential teachers.
Q The survey indicated that we have a highly educated membership. Why have they been declared ineligible to apply for the position of ED?
A In order to find someone with a fresh outlook, not someone who might be tainted; to avoid potentially negative feelings resulting from a member who might apply but is not selected; it would be a difficult transition to change from the role of an OLLI member to an ED.
Q Do we have a unified vision for the future?
A No. The Board cannot agree, and there are too many unknowns regarding what GMU will decide about a UBRC and the use of Tallwood.
Q How do you expect to get a good candidate for ED when you have excluded members from applying and are not offering a very large salary?
A We will conduct the search and keep our options open. It is hoped we will find a good candidate. If not, we can change the job description, consider someone part time, or consider raising the salary, which would likely result in a dues raise.
Ben thanked everyone for participating in a terrific discussion and invited all attendees to enjoy refreshments in the Annex. The Town Meeting was adjourned at 11:40.
Susanne Zumbro, Secretary 2007-2008