Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU receives $1 million endowment to continue lifelong learning programs

May 5, 2010

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded Indiana State University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute a $1 million endowment gift to provide ongoing educational opportunities for the Wabash Valley's lifelong learners. Indiana State is home to Indiana's only Osher Institute.

The endowment gift recognizes the success and sustainability of the Osher Institute and its programs.

"This endowment will provide resources to expand our outreach efforts and continue to provide quality lifelong learning opportunities to the citizens of west central Indiana," said Indiana State president Daniel J. Bradley. "I appreciate the confidence the Osher Foundation has placed in our ability to carry out their goals as well."

Known as OLLI at ISU, the group was founded in 1997 as the Dewey Institute for Lifelong Learning. It became affiliated with the Osher Foundation in 2007, when it received its first $100,000 grant for adult education programs. Since then, the Osher Foundation has provided a total of $300,000 in grants to help bolster the program in anticipation of the $1 million endowment.

The Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader from California. Among the programs supported by the foundation is a national network of lifelong learning institutes for older adults. The Osher Foundation supports 119 lifelong learning programs on university and college campuses across the country as well as a National Resource Center for the Institutes at the University of Southern Maine.

"The progress the Institute has made since receiving its first grant in 2007 has been outstanding," said Mary Bitterman, Osher Foundation president. "We applaud the university's leadership and staff for developing a program that provides such an engaging array of educational offerings for seasoned adults in the Wabash Valley area. We also salute the Institute's dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make the program so successful. We are delighted to provide this permanent support."

While there is considerable variation among Osher Institutes, common threads exist: non-credit educational programs specifically developed for adults who are aged 50 and beyond; university connection and university support; robust volunteer leadership and sound organizational structure; and a diverse repertoire of intellectually stimulating courses.

"The Osher Foundation gift speaks volumes about Indiana State's program, its leadership and diverse programming," said Sherry Dailey, steering committee member and chair of the ISU Foundation's March On! campaign. "Throughout the application process, they scrutinized each and every aspect of our program for the past three years. We passed the test due of the support provided by literally hundreds of residents in the Wabash Valley and the entire Indiana State community."

Indiana State's institute served 598 members this past year with non-credit classes and lectures taught by Indiana State faculty and staff members and community experts. Field trips have been added to the offerings in the past few years, including trips to the opera at Indiana University, exploring the architecture of Columbus, touring the Larkfield Glass facility and a trip to Springfield, Ill. to explore Abraham Lincoln's roots.

"Our members are committed to lifelong learning," said Linda Crossett, interim director of continuing education. "This endowment will ensure they have a multitude of learning opportunities in the years to come."

The endowment will be invested with the ISU Foundation, Crossett said, adding the group will receive a yearly amount to sustain the program.
The remaining spring schedule includes courses in astronomy, lectures on 1930s music, mental health issues and aging, local school memorabilia, the organ and the immune system and its role in fighting cancer.

Upcoming presentations in the Saturday lecture series include a sessions on the golden age of radio, linguistics and culture and southern masters of the short story. Special events include a wetlands tour and wine tastings.

Membership in OLLI at ISU is open to all adults but geared towards individuals age 50 and older. The $30 annual fee covers lectures. Courses, special events and the Saturday Series fees vary by event. For more information, visit  or call Michelle Bennett, program administrator, at 812-237-2336.

Media Contact and Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, 812-237-3783 or