Campus: Sonoma State University -- May 21, 2001


Lifelong Learning Institute to Open at Sonoma State For Fast-Growing "Graying" Population

To answer a changing demographic in the county and region, an exciting education program designed for North Bay residents 50 or older will be launched at Sonoma State University this fall. The new Lifelong Learning Institute will offer an evolving array of courses taught by distinguished faculty from the Bay Area region.

The spark for the program came from Glen Ellen resident Ed Stolman, owner of The Olive Press, who originally brought the idea to SSU based on his experience at the Fromm Institute, a similar program at the University of San Francisco.

The program will be tailored to meet the needs of its students. Intellectually challenging courses will be taught by retired faculty and other experts, and, at convenient hours. Three eight-week sessions will be offered in fall, winter, and spring. Classes will be held two times a day, Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cost will be $150 per session which can cover enrollment in up to four classes. Scholarships will be available.

All persons who register will receive a student card, allowing them access to several other campus amenities, including the the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center, the Center for Performing Arts, the Bookstore and the university's art galleries.

Already, the Lifelong Learning Institute has an impressive list of instructors, many of whom are well known beyond the borders of the SSU campus. The eight courses for the kick-off term include: The Great Central Valley in Life and Letters (Gerald Haslam); How Western Music Got the Way It Is (Arthur Hills); Music and Dance in the World's Religions (Gardner Rust); Jack London: The Man and the Myth (Susan Nuernberg); Evolution of Human Sexuality (Bernie Goldstein); Sugar, Sweeteners, and Society (Ernest Newbrun); Hitchcock's America (Barbara Spear); and Creativity and Beyond (Rob Weiner).

To date, $130,000 has been raised for the program. The cost to run the program in its first year is estimated to be approximately $300,000. Planners hope to reach that amount through a combination of various grants, donations, and in-kind contributions from the university and the School of Extended Education.

"There is no question that Sonoma County is experiencing the graying of the baby boom generation," says Institute coordinator Barbara Brooks of the School of Extended Education. And according to a study by Hans P. Johnson on long-term care (1999), the county is one of the fastest "graying" counties in California. Other research, such as that conducted by the state's Department of Finance, predicts the county's population of the 60 to 69 age group will more than double in the next twenty years.

Sonoma County is also an increasingly popular destination for retirees. As the senior population grows, health-care and social security have become critical national issues; now education is becoming a major concern.

According to Adler, "We know there are at least 10,000 people, in retirement communities such as Oakmont and Spring Lake Village in Santa Rosa, and Telemec in Sonoma, who we think will show an interest."

Friends of the Lifelong Learning Institute, a voluntary advisory group, has been formed and includes founding members of the Institute, representatives from the community, and emeritus faculty and staff.

An open house in the Evert B. Person Theatre is planned for September 5, the week before courses begin. It will provide an opportunity for students to meet with professors and hear first hand about the courses they're offering. The first session of classes begins September 10, with winter and spring sessions beginning in January and April 2002.

After May 29, applications and information about the program can be found online at www.sonoma.edu/exed/lifelong. Registration opens June 15. For further information call Extended Education, (707) 664-2394

Contact information:

Les Adler, Interim Dean of Extended Education, (707) 664-2394
Ed Stolman, The Olive Press, Glen Ellen, (707) 939-8900


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