September 13, 2004

New CCE program offers courses specifically designed for seniors

Everything is new about a program opening this semester, except the students. They’ve been around for awhile but not necessarily on the campus.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is, as director Elizabeth Hough explains, “the new kid on the block,” even among Sacramento State course offerings for seniors. Sixty-Plus, the Renaissance Society, a summertime Elderhostel short course and the Phoenix Society have been popular fixtures for some time.

The Osher program is headquartered in the relatively new Napa Hall, located at the south end of campus and opened not quite two years ago as the home of the College of Continuing Education. The Osher courses, open to residents of the region age 50 and above, are new and they will be taught by experienced faculty.

It all began last fall when Sacramento State submitted an application for a grant from the Bernard Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, named for a Bay Area philanthropist who has helped fund adult learning programs on campuses across the nation. The Osher institute awarded Sacramento State $100,000 in seed money for the current school year to initiate the program. Sixteen other campuses in the CSU system have received grants, along with other California schools, including UC Davis and Sierra College.

The University can make applications for similar amounts in the next two years, at which point the school will be eligible to compete for a $1 million endowment to carry the program into the future.

The University’s institute has been developed with the help of an advisory board of campus and community leaders.

The process to inaugurate the first year of the Osher program began in March, when more than 2,500 prospective students in the Sacramento region were surveyed to determine their interests in courses. A total of 841 people responded, indicating substantial interest. They ranged widely in age, with the biggest concentration in the 50 to 59 age category, followed by the 60 to 69 bracket as next biggest in drawing responses.

The results were used to develop the course offerings for this fall. These non-credit courses are shorter than the semester length because, Hough explains, “these students are busy in other activities, such as travel.”

About 80 people attended the first of two showcases of this fall’s courses in July. A similar orientation was conducted in August.

Now underway or soon to begin are the initial courses: the Sacramento Theatre Sampler, Exploring Cuba, Financial Planning Workshop, American History through Literature, the Jazz Age through World War II, Healthy Habits and Facilitating Adult Learning, Parts I and II. Instructors include current faculty members Ed Brazo, theatre and dance; Jan Andersen, family and consumer sciences; and Mona Dodson, English; as well as experts from the community.

Students pay a $99 fee for each course plus $30 to cover tickets for the theatre sampler and $30 for the health course, which is offered in partnership with Sutter Health. If three courses are taken, the total basic fee is $199. A fundraising program is also in progress to supplement the Osher grant.

Hough and the Osher advisory board are currently planning offerings for spring and summer of 2005. For further information, contact Hough at or call 278-6182. Information is also available online at


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