Let 100 Ollis Bloom-A Rabbi, a Billionaire and a Vision

By Beem, Edgar Allen | Aging Today, November/December 2006 | Go to article overview

Let 100 Ollis Bloom-A Rabbi, a Billionaire and a Vision


Beem, Edgar Allen, Aging Today


"Everything in my life is created by serendipitous moments," says Rabbi Harry Sky, recalling his key role in starting an adult learning program at the University of Southern Maine (USM) that has become the hub of a rapidly expanding national network of college institutes devoted to serving older learners.

Rabbi Sky, age 82, is the retired rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Portland, Maine. The serendipitous moment he is referring to occurred in the spring of 1999 when, after officiating at the funeral of a prominent local orthodontist, he was talking with one of the deceased man's brothers.

"So, Rabbi, what have you been doing?" the brother asked.

"I've been working for the past three years to establish a Senior College at USM," Rabbi Sky replied. "I don't know how to do it, but I'm trying." The man Harry Sky was talking to was billionaire California businessman and art patron Bernard Osher. He did know how.

OSHER MOVED QUICKLY

"Mr. Osher was so impressed with Rabbi Sky and his description of Senior College and the work of [program director] Kali Lightfoot," said Mary Bitterman, president of the San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation, "that he decided to move quickly. He is a Maine native and he is very straightforward. He decided to endow the program. When he got back to California, he said, 'Let's think about what more we could do here.'"

Seven years and tens of millions of Bernard Osher's dollars later, 93 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI) on college campuses now serve tens of thousands of seasoned adults from Maine to Hawaii. There are 30 OLLI campus programs in California alone. The Osher Foundation's goal is to establish and endow 100 Osher institutes nationwide.

The sudden rise of the OLLIs is the latest chapter in the modern history of adult education, a chapter that began in 1962 when the New School for Social Research in New York City responded to requests from retired local schoolteachers for more challenging noncredit courses. Today, more than 500 lifelong learning institutes operate in the United States, 300 of them in the Elderhostel Institute Network. Furthermore, the University of the Third Age is a network of lifelong learning programs at more than 500 sites throughout the world.

Bernard Osher, 79, made his fortune in the savings and loan industry through Golden West Financial Services Corporation and as the former owner of the Butterfield and Butterfield art auction firm in San Francisco. Until recently, Forbes listed Osher on its list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of close to $1 billion.

The Osher Foundation, which also gives grants to university tuition scholarships, three integrative medical centers, and arts or cultural organizations, developed a model to support the long-term stability of OLLIs. This approach involves several years of operating grants of $100,000 annually followed by consideration for an endowment grant of no less than $1 million. To date, eight of the Osher institutes have been endowed. Also, USM received $2 million in 2001 to endow the first Osher Lifelong Learning Center and another $2 million in 2004 to establish a national resource center for the growing OLLI network.

LEARNING NEW THINGS

OLLIs are membership organizations. The institute at USM, for example, has 950 members who pay annual membership dues of $25 plus $50 for the first course and $25 for each additional course. The USM program uses peer teaching and all faculty are unpaid volunteers. Rabbi Sky has taught courses in scriptures, mysticism, the teachings of Carl Jung and the New Testament from a Jewish perspective. The very first course he taught on comparative world religions drew 110 students.

"It is people who never went to college and people with PhDs who taught college," said Rabbi Sky of students attracted to Osher classes. "It's people whose minds are still working, who want to learn new things and who don't want to live in isolation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Let 100 Ollis Bloom-A Rabbi, a Billionaire and a Vision
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.