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2020 Virtual Osher Institutes National Conference

Smaller Group Session Descriptions

2020 Virtual Osher Institutes National Conference

Smaller Group Session Descriptions


Tuesday, October 20, 11am – 12:15pm Central

Recruit, Welcome, and Equip Your Instructors for Success

Psychology, neuroscience, and application in teaching are intricately tied together. This session will demonstrate the science behind effective instructor recruitment, retention, and training techniques to optimize the Osher Institute online or in-person teaching experience. Presenters will discuss the psychological phenomenon of social proof, and demonstrate how to use social proof to recruit instructors and motivate continued participation. This session will offer inspiration and empowerment with the practical application of instructor training to welcome, orient, and engage new instructors in digital and physical environments. Through these processes, participants will learn to foster an academic model for student-centered, brain-compatible teaching techniques.


Rita Brodnax, Volunteer, OLLI @ University of North Florida

Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, OLLI @ George Mason University

Nancy Kennedy, Director, OLLI @ Furman University

Jeanette Toohey, Director, OLLI @ University of North Florida


Tuesday, October 20, 1 – 2pm Central

Inspiring and Engaging Osher Institute Donors in a Pandemic

What motivates donors to support Osher Institutes and how is it different during a pandemic? What inspires donors about the work of OLLIs and the impact it has on people’s lives? How can this impact and importance be conveyed when there is so much going on in the world? In this workshop, two Osher Institute leaders will share their experiences developing compelling, responsive messages to inspire philanthropic support, as well as respectful ways to continue to engage donors during the current times. Participants will work in groups to develop and share creative, customized approaches to inspire charitable giving, engage donors, and encourage support.


Lauren Andersen, Director, Osher Institute @ University of Utah

Lora Wey, Assistant VP of Strategic Philanthropy, Ringling College of Art and Design


Thursday, October 22, 1 – 2:15pm Central

Effective Practices in Distance Learning

Now that Osher Institutes have transitioned their course offerings into distance or online learning, many are looking for the next step. In this session, three Osher Institute leaders discuss their processes, methods, pedagogy, and the types of classes they provide via distance or online modalities. Additionally, a representative of the NRC will present the resources and research available to the OLLI network, offering a discussion of varying systems including video conferencing solutions, learning management systems, and hybrid models. This session will provide an opportunity for participants to workshop effective practices with one another.


Kevin Connaughton, Manager of Adult Learning, National Resource Center for Osher Institutes

Catherine Mason, Program Assistant, OLLI @ University of South Florida

Ara Rogers, PhD, Director, OLLI @ University of South Florida

Andrea Sisino, Director, OLLI @ University of South Carolina Beaufort


Tuesday, October 27, 1 – 2:15pm Central

Playing “Small Ball” in Diversity

“Small Ball” is a baseball strategy to get runners on base, resulting in more total runs. When it comes to diversity efforts, many OLLIs find themselves swinging for a home run—that singular effort, or program, that will radically shift the demographics of their Institute. However, “small ball” is often what wins the game. In this session, representatives of six Osher Institutes present the small ball efforts they employ to get diversity on base. Learn how these movements may result in more total runs and wins in the areas of inclusivity and diversity.


Jeffery Alejandro, Program Manager, OLLI @ Emory University

Jennifer Anderson, Director, OLLI @ The University of Alabama

Ed Ford, Board Chair, OLLI @ University of Massachusetts, Boston

Sharon Gretz, Director, OLLI @ University of Pittsburgh

Chris McLeod, Director, OLLI @ Duke University

Magda Vergara, PhD, Director, OLLI @ University of Miami


Wednesday, October 28, 1 – 2:15pm Central

Paying it Forward: The Value of Intergenerational Programming

Opportunities for intergenerational programming are abundant for Osher Institutes on their university campuses. These collaborations between the generations thrive in both virtual and in-person communities all across the country for good reason. Renowned speaker, author, and advocate Donna Butts is the Executive Director of Generations United (GU). The mission of this national non-profit organization is to improve the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational collaborations, public policies, and programs for the enduring benefit of all. While describing the ground-breaking and award-winning work GU is doing, Donna will provide considerations for establishing, partnering, and improving the intergenerational programming of Osher Institutes in their own university and college communities. A panel discussion will cover numerous related topics including multi-generational class creation, recruitment of members and instructors, fostering campus connections, forming community projects, and research.


Donna M. Butts, President, Generations United, Washington, DC


Susan Hoffman, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of California, Berkeley

Richard Knopf, PhD, Director, OLLI @ Arizona State University

Josh Raney, Director, OLLI @ University of Arkansas