1987 Coordinators Meeting
First Coordinators' Meeting 1987
Al Dekker, Dick Tarble, Jay Smith, Ray Wong
1987 Spring Picnic
1987 Spring Picnic
Singing for Fun Seminar Around 1992
Singing for Fun Seminar around 1992

A Brief History

The Idea

Just as the 14th Century Renaissance period represented an exciting time for new learning and individual expression, so does the CSUS Renaissance Society in today's world.

The lifelong learning program at CSUS was first proposed by Robert Heilman, professor of social work. In the 1970s, he began a Gerontology Center on campus and learned of other universities' learning-in-retirement centers.

In 1984 he attended a conference put on by Plato Society of UC, Los Angeles. He felt a center for learning should be established on this campus and proceeded to find someone to get it started. Volunteers from the Sixty Plus program (a now-defunct program that allowed those over 60 to attend CSUS classes for a small fee) picked up his enthusiasm.

The next year, Dr. Margaret McKoane (former Director of the Program for Adult Students' Admission and Reentry) returned from a trip to University of New Hampshire, which had an Active Retired Association. She brought back a copy of their Constitution and a letter of encouragement.

She and Dr. Heilman began the development of what was to become The Renaissance Society. President Donald Gerth and Dean Robert Arellanes agreed to give $2,500 in seed money to get it started. This money was repaid two years later from membership dues.

The Beginning

The first semester was the fall of 1986. The first Forum speakers were Dean Arellanes, President Francis Meyers of the Association for Learning in Retirement Organizations (ALIROW) and Dr. Dan Crowley, an anthropologist from University of California at Davis (speaking on "Personal Freedom in Today's World Civilizations").

Four seminars were offered that first semester: Art and Literature; Science and Technology, Politics, Government and Economic Systems; History and Philosophy. Cracker Barrel discussions and Forum speakers were held on alternate Fridays. A Constitution was adopted and officers were elected at that time. Seminar coordinators are volunteers from the membership who coordinate the individual Programs.

The Evolution

From the beginning in 1986 there have been summer sessions exploring topics of interest to members. Since 1987, ongoing activities have included Lunch and Dinner groups, Music for Fun, Excursions and Writing groups.

In 1991, the Renaissance Society teamed with various professors at the University to offer Volunteer Opportunities to the members. In 2002, volunteers were added in the Library Gallery and at Drama and Music Department Performances. Occasionally members mentor students in Gerontology.

In 1993, The Renaissance Society began offering annual scholarships for students in fields related to gerontology and now includes students from other fields of study. In 2015, six $3,000 scholarships were given.

In 1995, the very popular Friday morning seminar, Travel and Adventure, began. The Society has contributed funds for new equipment to the Media Center in the University Library, where the seminar is held. In 1996 the Walkabout Group (now Walkabouts) began, which offers 2-4 mile weekly walks throughout the Sacramento region.

Continuing Seminars have included Friends of the New Yorker, Great Decisions, Photography, and other Arts. The Spring 2015 catalog offered 90 choices.

The Society continues to grow and to be a presence on campus. The Renaissance Society especially values the University's continued support and commitment to learning in the later years.