DENTON (UNT), Texas - When Stephanie Reinke came on board as the director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of North Texas in September 2017, she had a clear mission — exceed 500 members and meet other funding criteria by the end of August 2018 in order to be eligible to apply for a $1 million endowment from the The Bernard Osher Foundation.
OLLI at UNT not only met that goal but they exceeded it with a current membership of more than 600.
“The goal is to make OLLI at UNT financially self-sustaining and this endowment is going to help us do that,” Reinke said. “We are so excited to receive this support and we will put the funds to grow and sustain programs for our members.”
OLLI at UNT offers non-credit courses, events and trips designed by and for adults 50 and older. The University of North Texas established its lifelong learning program in 2009, and it became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in early 2017, when it received a $100,000 operating grant from the Osher Foundation.
Of course, growing the membership has gone hand in hand with developing the Institute’s programming and curriculum.
The program now has five locations, offers more than 300 classes a year, has 270 UNT faculty teaching courses and boasts members from 47 cities in North Texas.
“This is unprecedented growth but we don’t plan on slowing down,” Reinke said. “The community is ripe for this kind of program. The word is out about OLLI at UNT and people are realizing what a commodity we are.”
The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by businessman and community leader, Bernard Osher. The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.
“The progress the program has made since receiving its initial grant has been outstanding,” Osher Foundation President Mary Bitterman said. “We salute the leadership of the University of North Texas for supporting the program’s development and congratulate the Institute’s dedicated staff and volunteers on their success. We are delighted to provide this permanent support.”
UNT President Neal Smatresk said UNT is proud to be home to an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
“Through OLLI at UNT, we are connecting adults throughout the North Texas region with academic and recreational pursuits with world-class faculty and experts,” Smatresk said. “We are grateful for the Osher Foundation’s support of higher education and for providing this endowment.”
For more information about how to join OLLI at UNT or to give a membership as a gift, contact Reinke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-369-7293.