Bernard Osher Makes a $4M Grant to Lifelong Learning Society

By lisa metcalf | 6/27/2017

The Bernard Osher Foundation recently approved a $4 million endowment grant to support Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society.  The funds supporting the grant are a personal donation of Bernard Osher, who is also the treasurer of the Foundation.  With that, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Florida Atlantic University today. 

The endowment grant will support and stimulate the strategic development of Lifelong Learning programming at both the University’s Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses. With this endowment, all operational and programming decisions will continue to be overseen by FAU.  It is the largest endowment grant ever awarded by Osher interests to a lifelong learning program.

“This is a historic day for the lifelong learning programs at FAU,” said FAU President John Kelly. “This generous gift represents the Osher Foundation’s strong desire to invest in us and shows just how confident they are in what our lifelong learning institute offers to our communities. It also ensures that the lifelong learning program will be here forever, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

OLLI at FAU has more than 14,000 members, the largest in the country, and is dedicated to offering intellectually enriching educational experiences to older adults with non-credit courses in a welcoming atmosphere and state-of-the-art facilities. This community of learners consistently enjoys a diverse and creative curriculum, along with concerts, and entertainment.

“This endowment is a testament of the recognition of the excellence of FAU’s Lifelong Learning program, said Herbert Shapiro, Ph.D., associate provost of OLLI at FAU, Boca Raton. “We look forward to the prospect of being able to further enhance our excellent programming for our dedicated members, as well as share ideas with our colleagues nationally across the Osher network.”

The lifelong learning program was established in 1980 at the Boca Raton campus and at the Jupiter campus in 1997. Courses taught by FAU professors and distinguished guest lecturers are available from October through June, and include a variety of subjects such as foreign policy, music, art, history, science, literature, philosophy, current events, and films.

“Florida Atlantic University is proud of our commitment to the more than 7,500 OLLI students who are such a vital part of the FAU Jupiter campus as learners, supporters and volunteers,” said Eliah Watlington, Ed.D., associate provost of OLLI at FAU, Jupiter. “We are most appreciative because this endowment will be used to help continue to expand our distinguished speaker lecture series, course offerings and other endeavors that will benefit our lifelong learning students.”

In June 2014, the Osher Foundation gave FAU’s Lifelong Learning Society a $150,000 operating grant, which then established the relationship between the University and the Foundation.

“As the architect of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, the Foundation takes great pride in the program’s expansion, through the personal gift of Bernard Osher, to include Florida Atlantic University.  FAU is widely recognized as leader in the field of lifelong learning, and the nature and variety of educational opportunities that it offers is impressive,” said Mary Bitterman, president of the Bernard Osher Foundation.  “We salute the Lifelong Learning Society’s fine staff and dedicated volunteers for developing such an enriching and engaging educational program for seasoned adults.  We are delighted to support their good work and warmly welcome them to the national Osher Lifelong Learning Institute network.”

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader.  The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.  

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, operating on the campuses of 120 institutions of higher education from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska, have a National Resource Center at Northwestern University that provides for communication and professional development across the institute network.  The Foundation also provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities nationally, with special attention to reentry students.  In addition, it supports integrative medicine centers at UCSF, Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Karolinska Institute, Northwestern University, the University of Miami, and Vanderbilt University.  The Foundation’s support of the arts is confined to the San Francisco Bay Area and Bernard Osher’s native state of Maine.