Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
February 14, 2005
Program offers classes for 50+ set
Sacramento State is taking the mantra “You’re
never too old to learn” to heart. In addition to programs for traditional
students, the University has beefed up its offerings for those who’ve
earned the title “senior” for more than accumulated class credits.
The most recent addition to the palate of classes, lectures and travel opportunities
is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a College of Continuing Education-led
effort that provides courses for tuning both mind and body.
The institute, which began in the fall, is designed for the 50-plus crowd, says
its director, Elizabeth Hough. It’s aimed at people who are making the
transition between the work world and some of the University’s long-standing
learning-in-retirement offerings like the Renaissance Society and Elder Hostel.
“Osher courses are fun, non-credit courses that give participants the
opportunity to meet others with similar interests,” Hough says. The sessions
are shorter than regular semester-length courses, taking into account the busy
schedules of participants.
The inaugural courses touched on a variety of topics: theater, Cuba, financial
planning, healthy habits, American history through literature, and facilitating
adult learning. Sessions ranged from five to 13 weeks and were taught by faculty
members from campus as well as experts from the surrounding community.
Theatre and dance professor Ed Brazo said the enthusiasm from the students he
taught in the theatre sampler course was infectious. “It was sheer enjoyment.
We always went over the allotted class time,” he says.
Students attended performances at several local theatres and listened to guest
speakers from various theater disciplines such as acting, directing, lighting
and set design. And they attended a dress rehearsal for one of Sacramento State’s
productions as well as auditions for the spring production.
Because the class was less structured than his regular classes, Brazo was able
to share more “tips of the trade” than theory. “Many had seen
several theatre productions before, so they enjoyed the backstage part of it.
Some are even taking it again.”
One of those repeat customers is Dick Dotters, who took the course with his
wife Sally. “I took the class because I was interested in expanding my
horizons,” he says. “Before, I could go to the theatre but not appreciate
it as much because now I know what goes into a production.” Along with
the opportunity to be a theater “insider,” Dotters says he also
enjoyed the social nature of the class. “We met people with a similar
interest and established a lot of new friendships.”
Student Ron Clyma enjoyed the healthy habits class so much, he wrote about it
in the institute’s first newsletter. He said he approached his first health
and fitness class in many years with “tremendous trepidation.” But
because it was designed for seniors with limitations and tailored for each student,
he found it a fun and useful alternative to “the glitzy gyms I had tried
where I never felt at home among the shiny steel weight machines and form-hugging
He also appreciated the opportunity to get personalized counseling and menu
suggestions from a nutritionist. “Most of all, though,” he wrote,
“I think I prized the gentle but steady encouragement I received to set
realistic goals for changes that really improved not only my health but my self-image.”
Students can register for individual courses or by the “semester”
which entitles them to take up to three courses. New courses for the spring
will include one on Northern California cuisine featuring advice on cooking
with local produce, field trips, demonstrations by area chefs and applications
in the Family and Consumer Sciences kitchen lab. Others will include a holistic
healing seminar, a digital photography course and a class on how American culture
Over the summer the institute will also support a writing conference, featuring
workshops and evening readings led by published authors.
Most of the courses are held in Napa Hall. But Hough says plans are in the works
to take the show “on the road,” offering shorter versions of the
classes at local retirement communities.
Seed money for the program is provided by a $100,000 grant from the Bernard
Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, named for a Bay Area philanthropist who
has helped fund adult learning on campuses throughout the country. The campus
can apply for similar amounts in the next two years and will then be eligible
to compete for a $1 million endowment.
In addition to the Osher programs, the University offers a number of programs
for the senior set:
The Renaissance Society is a learning-in-retirement organization
that along with its weekly forums offers dozens of more-detailed seminars
for members. The forums, which are open to the public, feature law professors,
journalists, educators, governmental officials and more discussing hot issues
of the day such as this semester’s offering: “The Wacky World
of State Government,” “The International Criminal Court and Human
Rights Standards” and “Capital Public Radio in a Digital Age.”
Seminar topics range from writing workshops to bridge and from conversational
French to travel.
The Life Center, housed in the University’s Julia
Morgan House, offers a range of health and fitness classes including fall-risk
prevention, tai chi and strength training, as well as computer workshops.
It also has a speaker series on health-related topics.
Elderhostel at Sac State works with the national Elderhostel
Snapshots program to offer short educational travel programs such as one this
spring cruising the Napa River.
The Sixty-Plus program allows seniors to take University
courses at a reduced rate.
Details: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: (916) 278-5485
Renaissance Society: (916) 278-7834 or www.csus.edu/org/rensoc/
Elderhostel: (916) 278-7847
Sixty-Plus: Re-entry Services at (916) 278-3901
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