Boise State

LLI Spotlight:  Rosemary Reinhardt, Executive Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

By Peter Spiers

Background:  The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Boise State University was founded 15 years ago by a small group of curious intellectuals committed to establishing a learning organization like those they’d seen at their alma maters back East and elsewhere.  The organization, originally called the Renaissance Institute, began with the support of then dean of the Division of Extended Studies Joyce Harvey Morgan. Classes were initially held in living rooms, theaters and anywhere else space could be found until dedicated space on campus could be arranged. In 2006 the Institute received its first grant from the Osher Foundation and became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  Since then it has received two $1 million endowments that have been instrumental in its growth. The OLLI is now home to over 1,400 members, drawn from retired university faculty and staff, alumni, longtime community residents, and retirees drawn to Boise’s growing stature as a desirable retirement destination.  Volunteers play a big part in the organization, providing council to the executive director through a 15-member advisory board, and serving on four subject-specific curriculum committees and other committees.  Members pay $70 for a full-year or $35 for a half-year membership which includes attendance at all lectures for no additional cost, a parking pass, and attendance at two seasonal events, but does not include short courses or special trips, for which varying fees apply.  Executive Director Rosemary Reinhardt directs an office that includes three other paid staff—a coordinator and an administrative assistant—and a part-time student office assistant.

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