30 Years of Lifelong Learning

By Mary K. Zajac

Illustration: Michael Morgenstern

2015 has been a significant year for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins, which offers noncredit courses, lectures, and activities for people who are retired or semiretired. Not only is the institute celebrating its 30th anniversary, it has also received a $1 million grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation.

In the award letter, Mary G.F. Bitterman, president of the Osher Foundation, said the Hopkins program has “established a standard of excellence and a model of active member involvement that have become hallmarks of the institute.” This is the second million-dollar award made to the institute by the foundation, which seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

Beverly Wendland, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (of which Osher at JHU is a part), says the gift is a testament to the expertise of the people who operate and teach in the institute.

“At Johns Hopkins, we follow the premise that learning is a lifelong activity,” says Wendland. “Osher at JHU allows intellectually curious adults an opportunity to explore big ideas, learn something new about the world around them, and engage with others who share their desire for scholarly stimulation.”

Osher at JHU, once known as the Evergreen Society, was established in 1986, with three classes and 30 students. Today, 1,200 students take classes in topics ranging from comparative religion to introductory computer skills at six locations around Baltimore. The courses are popular and there is often a waitlist.

“The classes and activities offered by Osher at JHU offer something special to our members, and they truly revere the program,” says Mary Kay Shartle Galotto, director of Osher at JHU. “Our members are a community of individuals who love learning and value social connection.”