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OLLI turns 20

Tanya Koonce
Peoria Public Radio

  Bradley’s Lifelong learning program is 20 years old. About 300 people gathered for the celebration luncheon Wednesday in the Student Center on Bradley’s Campus. The Bradley Institute for Learning in Retirement started as a result of Janet Lange’s master’s thesis. It received the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute designation six years ago. Lange is the executive director of continuing education at Bradley. She says there are 117 OLLI programs in the country, but Bradley’s program is the only one that offers a series of classes during four Wednesdays in the Fall and Spring.

“It’s a great way to learn. It’s a great way to meet people. There’s a lot of socialization that takes place over those breaks in those classes. I think what I am especially proud of is that for many people this has become an important and valuable part of their life, a very meaningful part of their life," Lange says.  

More than a thousand people age fifty and greater participate in the Bradley’s OLLI educational classes, travels, study groups and events. The Bradley University Osher Institute already surpassed its annual fundraising goal with $50,000 in contributions. Half of the money was a matching gift from an anonymous donor. The Bernard Osher Foundation also considers the Peoria based program a standout that will be highlighted during the annual conference in April.