UNC Wilmington Receives Second $1 Million Gift from Osher Foundation for Lifelong Learning Institute

Public Service and Continuing Studies interim vice chancellor Tom Barth addresses crowd at Osher gift announcement on Dec. 12, 2011

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Monday, December 12, 2011

The University of North Carolina Wilmington announced today that it has received its second $1 million gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation to support programming for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Endowed in 2007 by an initial $1 million Osher grant, OLLI provides non-credit university courses, seminars and other educational opportunities to adult learners.
"The Osher Foundation's generous support has allowed UNCW to create programming that has attracted an incredibly vibrant community of adult learners," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller. "Through the Osher endowment, we have built a strong, diverse, thriving OLLI program; this second $1 million gift ensures the future stability of this community resource."

Based in San Francisco, the Osher Foundation supports lifelong learning programs for mature adults at 117 colleges and universities across the United States. In approving a second $1 million endowment to UNCW, the foundation recognized the ongoing excellence of its OLLI program, said Mary G. F. Bitterman, president of the Osher Foundation.

"The pioneering efforts and vision of individuals who founded the program established a standard of excellence that has become a hallmark of the Institute," Bitterman said. "We salute you on yet another year of providing outstanding educational service to seasoned adults in the Wilmington area."

Since its inception, UNCW's OLLI has grown to more than 1,000 members as well as many non-members who participate in individual classes and programs. In Sept. 2011, the university reported, an increase of 247 OLLI members over the same time the previous year. UNCW opened a new building dedicated to housing OLLI staff and programs in June 2010. In fiscal year 2010-11, 297 class meetings were held in the building, with more than 10,000 people going in and out of its doors.

In addition to its programming, OLLI's growth can be attributed to its board members and community volunteers, who give generously of their time, talent and financial resources.

"The reception of OLLI in this community has been truly remarkable," said Tom Barth, Interim Dean of Public Service and Continuing Studies, which oversees OLLI at UNCW. "The tireless members of the OLLI board, as well as the faculty who teach in our programs, keep OLLI robust and dynamic, as well as inclusive and affordable."

In addition to the two OLLI endowment gifts, Bernard and Barbro Osher established another $1 million endowed scholarship at UNCW that provides financial assistance to non-traditional, re-entry students. UNCW awarded honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees to the Oshers in 2008 in honor of their exceptional service to the university and their contributions in furthering educational opportunities for lifelong learners.

Media contact:
Dana Fischetti, media relations manager, 910.508.3127 for fischettid@uncw.edu