TOWN HALL MEETING, October 31, 2008
Approximately 60 members attended the fourth annual OLLI town hall
meeting. President Pat Carroll began the meeting at 10:00 by welcoming
everyone and reported on developments related to the agreement
negotiated between the Mason Foundation and the Osher Foundations
pertaining to endowment payouts, which are now far more favorable for
us. He said Mason-OLLI relations were excellent and noted there has
been little progress on the University-Based Retirement Center (OLLI's
future home), now projected to be ready sometime in 2012 at the
Executive Director Thom announced that Debbie Halverson had
accepted the job of Membership Committee Chair. He noted the Board has
extended support for the Loudoun OLLI program through calendar year
2009, which reflected a general change in the Board’s interpretation of
its broad mission to make learning for older adults more widely
available in Northern Virginia. Thom gave an overview of the
proposed 2009 budget and then led the
group through a discussion of our "PMI" (pluses, minuses, and
interesting ideas) and elicited some responses from the
Following the PMI discussion, the Development, Program, Membership,
Finance and Communications Committee Chairs provided updates, noted
volunteer opportunities, and asked for feedback.
- P (Strengths):
- Program (i.e. courses, activities, and sense
- Outstanding staff and volunteer leadership.
- Active participation by Mason and by
- Location - close to DC talent, affluent
- M (Weaknesses):
- Turnover - members leave in large numbers,
almost all for personal reasons (some discussion of this; some felt
cost/benefit analysis played a significant role even though they
wouldn't admit it to the OLLI rep who asked why).
- Limited classroom space.
- Shortage of volunteers (Thom mentioned the
80-20 Rule, saying we aren't any worse than other organizations).
- Traffic - difficulty getting between campuses
in 30 minutes. No public transportation access.
- Abbie Edwards complained about the
habitual drop-off in attendance, felt it was embarrassing for outside
- Membership Committee Chair Debbie Halverson
is planning to set up hobby groups, such as board-game clubs, so there
will be more fun things to do, especially in the off-season.
- Bob Bohall suggested we come up with more
year-round activities and courses to make greater use of off-season
time. Since transportation is an increasing issue, we should encourage
car pooling and seek volunteers to transport members who can no longer
The membership raised the following issues during the meeting:
The executive director distributed index cards for the purpose of
collecting written suggestions from meeting participants. Four cards
were returned with comments and ideas.
- Open houses
are a huge amount of work -- are the results worth it? Thom said he
thought there was value to the process even if the number of new
members is relatively low. However, we will need to decide if it is
worth spending significant amounts on advertising or direct mailings
since "word of mouth" continues to be the most common way to bring in
-- why pursue 1,000 members when we are bursting at the seams as it is?
Thom and Pat said growth would primarily be at locations other than
Tallwood. We had to continue strong recruiting efforts to ensure we
make up for the 30 percent loss rate every year. And if we hit 1,000,
we can apply for another $1 million endowment from the Osher
Foundation. Both stressed that we were not pushing hard to reach that
OLLI member Nick Cirillo argued the case, which he raised in a letter
this week to the Editor of OLLI
E-News, that OLLI should not subsidize Loudoun -- they should be
self-sufficient. That led to a lengthy discussion of how much we owe
Mason and what Mason receives in return. The Treasurer challenged
Nick’s impression that the OLLI Board intended from the beginning to
cut Loudoun loose as a separate LLI as soon as we got them established.
Someone noted that Manassas and Sterling were much too far from
Tallwood to be united with our organization, but Thom noted that we
will continue to explore possibilities of expanding our relationships
in those areas.
- FOLLI donors
list in the catalog: a few members objected to the inclusion of
names of members who have donated to the Friends of OLLI. The intent
was to more publicly recognize giving by OLLI members and to encourage
more participation in giving to meet needs not covered in the operating
budget. Most attendees seemed to think it wasn't a problem. Bob Bohall
suggested it be inserted only once a year. Ben Gold suggested we
publish a single list without the levels of giving.
The meeting adjourned about 12:20 and everyone then enjoyed the
wonderful refreshments and Halloween decorations provided by the
Hospitality Committee in the social room and annex.
by Gordon Canyock, Treasurer 2008-2009
Updated: November 5, 2008
Copyright © 2008 Osher
Lifelong Learning Institute at
George Mason University. Materials in this publication subject to
OLLI-Mason copyright may be reproduced for noncommercial educational
purposes as long as credit is given to OLLI-Mason.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George
Mason University, 4210 Roberts Rd., Fairfax, VA 22032-1028
Phone: (703) 503-3384; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Fax: (703) 503-2832
Original site design and construction by OLLI-Mason member Rod Zumbro.