Campus: CSU Fullerton -- March 21, 2003

$100,000 Awarded to Institute of Gerontology to Further Lifelong Learning

In another nod to Cal State Fullerton's commitment to and excellence in the area of gerontology, the Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded $100,000 to the Institute of Gerontology to create the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Renewable annually for an additional two years, the grant "will help further establish our role in the realm of lifelong learning and will allow us to expand and extend into the community," says Pauline S. Abbott, director of the university's Institute of Gerontology. In addition, an administrator will be recruited to oversee the OLLI.

To be housed in the Ruby Gerontology Center, the OLLI will become the campus's main resource for information on courses, services and activities geared toward senior scholars - age 50 and older - from such programs and organizations as Continuing Learning Experience (CLE), 60+, University Extended Education, Center for Successful Aging, Adult Reentry Center, and Center for Oral and Public History.

The institute also will offer noncredit course work that Abbot says, "will give us the potential to utilize emeriti faculty members, those who want to continue to teach. They represent all areas and many disciplines, and will be introduced to new audiences."

Designed to complement CLE's offerings, which are offered primarily in the Ruby Gerontology Center, OLLI classes could be held at off-campus locations - reaching those who cannot make it to Fullerton. Eventually, says Abbott, classes may be offered via distance learning.

According to a recent survey conducted by the university's Institute of Gerontology, Orange County's senior population, which currently numbers about 400,000, has doubled since 1980, and by 2020, is expected to grow to approximately 965,000. Nationally, the educational level of older adults is increasing. And in a study commissioned by the AARP regarding why people age 50 years and older continue to learn about new things, a large proportion of those surveyed said they did for the "joy of learning," to enhance their spiritual or personal growth and to keep up with what is going on in the world. In Orange County, more than 9,000 residents age 50 years and older were enrolled in local community colleges and universities in fall 2000.

"I really feel like we were looked at favorably by the Bernard Osher Foundation because of the Institute of Gerontology and the leadership of Pauline Abbott," says Gina Webster, senior director of development. "She has made gerontology a focal point for policy change and as it relates to everything we do here. In addition, over the last 25 years, we have developed a history of serving seniors through such programs as CLE."

The Bernard Osher Foundation, established in 1977 by San Francisco businessman Bernard Osher, seeks to improve the quality of life through programs in the arts and humanities, integrative medicine and financial assistance for students in postsecondary education.

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