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Spring 2005 l Capital University Journal
For love of learning
New program offers classes for 50+ set
By Laurie Hall

Photo: Healthy Habits Class
Sac 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 Educationled 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 longstanding learning-inretirement offerings like the Renaissance Society and Elder Hostel.

“Osher courses are fun, noncredit 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, financial planning, healthy habits—taught by faculty members and 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 theaters, listened to guest speakers from various theater disciplines and attended a dress rehearsal for one of Sac State’s productions.

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.”

Dick Dotters, who took the course with his wife Sally, says, “I was interested in expanding my horizons. Before, I could go to the theater 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 “glitzy gyms.”

He also appreciated the opportunity to get personalized counseling and menu suggestions from a nutritionist.

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 Northern California cuisine, holistic healing, digital photography, and American culture and religion.

Over the summer the institute will also hold a writing conference.

Most of the courses are held in the recently opened Napa Hall on campus. 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-inretirement organization that along with its weekly forums offers dozens of more-detailed seminars for members.
  • The Life Center, housed in the University’s Julia Morgan House, offers a range of health and fitness classes including fallrisk 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.
  • The Sixty-Plus program allows seniors to take University courses at a reduced rate.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: (916) 278-5485 or
Renaissance Society: (916) 278-7834 or
Elderhostel: (916) 278-7847Sixty-Plus: (916) 278-3901

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