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2020 Osher Institutes National Conference

Plenary Session Descriptions

2020 Osher Institutes National Conference

Plenary Session Descriptions

Monday, 4 – 5:15pm

Welcome to the 2020 Osher Institutes National Conference

The opening plenary session provides a general orientation of the conference agenda, staff introductions, and some inspiring words from our Bernard Osher Foundation colleagues. This session also includes an overview of the “State of the OLLI Network,” as well as the first of three installments of “Woo-Hoo!” competition entries.


Mary Bitterman, President, The Bernard Osher Foundation

Bernard Osher, Founder and Treasurer, The Bernard Osher Foundation

Steve Thaxton, Executive Director, National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Tuesday, 8:30 – 9:45am

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 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. Established in 1986, GU has become a powerful network of partner organizations dedicated to this cause. Donna offers overwhelming evidence on how intergenerational interactions have a positive relationship to value creation throughout society and are especially relevant to improving the quality of life for older people. 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 OLLIs in their own university and college communities.


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

Wednesday, 8:30 – 9:30am

Insights into Strategic Planning

Last year, Rick Seltzer, Senior Writer for Inside Higher Ed, researched and wrote a Special Report on higher education strategic planning, Smart, Succinct and Agile: Strategic Planning in an Age of Uncertainty. This influential report has become a beacon for university administrators, presidents, and trustees responsible for developing strategy for their academes. The macro-level observations and conclusions within it are highly relevant to the micro-level of an Osher Institute’s Strategic Planning. During this session, Rick will summarize his findings and moderate a panel discussion of three OLLI directors. These directors have recently engaged in their own strategic planning and will share insights on their individual processes as they relate to Rick’s work at their own universities. 


Rick Seltzer, Senior Writer, Inside Higher Education, Washington, DC

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director for Special Programs and Continuing Education, Osher Institute @ University of Dayton

Jim Hermelbracht, Director, OLLI @ University of Massachusetts, Boston

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Director, OLLI @ Western Michigan University