OLLI at Penn State York
A chance meeting, in early 2007, of three women – Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Paddon and Gussie Petron – each of whom was over seventy, and bored, sowed the seeds that bloomed into what is now OLLI at Penn State York. The women, who called themselves a cog (Charmaine, Olive and Gussie) in the wheel of learning, started discussing retirement, and they all agreed that retirement was fine, except for the boredom. They realized they needed intellectual and cultural stimulation, and new learning opportunities. They also realized there were no lifelong learning programs available in York County at the time.
The ladies decided to research lifelong learning programs on the internet. An important finding from their research was that to be successful, a lifelong learning program must be associated with a college or university. So, in the words of Olive Padden, “…we made some contacts and Penn State York seemed to be the place to start this adventure.”
The trio met with continuing education representatives at Penn State York, Bea Landis and Beth Gill-MacDonald, who in turn, contacted their counterparts at University Park. Thanks to some quick hard work, in August of 2007, York was named one of the Penn State sites for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (“OLLI”), a network of 119 volunteer driven lifelong learning organizations endowed by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Penn State has another OLLI site at University Park.
OLLI was initially an affiliate of Penn State, located on campus, but governed by member volunteers. In July, 2015, OLLI became a unit of Outreach and Online Education at Penn State, and while programming is still determined by a committee of volunteers, day-to-day operations are taken care of by Penn State staff.