Osher Foundation Creates $1 Million Endowment for Mason’s Lifelong Learning Institute

Posted: December 3, 2012 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: December 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

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By Mary Frances Forcier and  Corey Schaut

A $1 million endowment gift from The Bernard Osher Foundation will support long-term operations at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at George Mason University. OLLI is an independent nonprofit organization affiliated with the university.

“Education is a lifelong pursuit that has the power to elevate us, delight us and keep us connected to each other and to a larger world,” notes Osher Foundation President Mary G.F. Bitterman.

OLLI programs at Mason reach more than 1,000 community members, mostly of retirement age, at three Northern Virginia sites. Volunteer instructors and speakers, including Mason faculty and OLLI members, share their expertise in more than 250 educational programs each year.

“The financial support from the Osher Foundation has enabled us to expand our program of stimulating courses and activities in Fairfax, Reston and Sterling,” says OLLI’s Executive Director Thom Clement.

John Woods, president of OLLI-Mason, notes how critical Osher’s support is to the institute.

“Retirement is a significant life-changing event for most people,” he said. “Some of our members have lost spouses, and OLLI helps them through these difficult periods. The two endowment gifts from the Osher Foundation enable us to provide quality programs at a reasonable cost to our members.”

The San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The foundation has provided gifts totaling more than $2.2 million to OLLI. Founded in 1991 and formerly known as the Learning in Retirement Institute, the organization changed its name in 2004 in recognition of the Osher Foundation’s generosity.

This gift marks the organization’s second million-dollar endowment at the university. In 2010, the foundation established the Osher Re-entry Scholarship endowment with a $1 million gift to assist students returning to college after an absence.

Learn more about OLLI.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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