Breakout Sessions – National Conference 2015
The Stories of OLLI
A number of Osher Institutes are exploring the power of storytelling and tapping their OLLI members to collect and tell their personal stories. Is this market research, oral history collection, personal memoir creation, or the confluence of all of these? Participants will hear how two programs are using member narratives to advance their mission of creative aging while honoring members’ lives. Listen to Rick Knopf, OLLI director at Arizona State, and Linda Shook, OLLI director at Auburn University, tell their success stories. Participants will take home ideas about techniques, tools, and resources to facilitate the telling and collection of life stories.
The Magic of Paying Attention to Volunteers
All Osher Institutes rely on volunteers as advisers, organizers, classroom assistants, and even faculty. This breakout session will concern the rarely discussed topic of how to manage contributed assistance, as well as how it is connected to yet different from membership development and fundraising. In OLLI’s first break-out session to use the video-conferencing software Adobe Connect, Susan J. Ellis of Energize, a training and consulting company that supports leaders of volunteers, will present from her offices in Philadelphia. Ellis will provide a framework for the basic elements of effective volunteer engagement, share some easy (but not always obvious) tips for internal OLLI work, and leave participants with information on resources for further learning—many online and some right in their backyards. Ara Rogers, OLLI director at the University of South Florida, will be on-site moderator.
Let’s Talk: Approaches to Conflict in Our Midst
OLLI directors Avi Bernstein of Brandeis University and Andréa Sisino of the University of South Carolina Beaufort will present a panel discussion about a topic many would rather avoid: Why are OLLI staff and member leaders sometimes pitted against one another? What structures produce this conflict, what reforms can overcome it, and who are the winners and losers in this process? Drawing on director and member-leader experiences, panelists will advocate clarity and disclosure. Although it can be more comfortable in the short term to leave organizational structures undefined, organizational life can become more collaborative and collegial through shared understanding of roles, responsibilities, fiduciary authority, organizational charts, and committee powers.
Learn from LERN
Many Osher Institutes are members of the Learning Resources Network, the world’s largest association in continuing education and lifelong learning, and use its planning models. Greg Marsello, LERN vice president for organizational development, will present an overview about creating a long-term strategic plan rather than a shorter-term business plan. He will also talk about how a business plan relates to strategic planning and build short-term plans for three sizes of Osher Institutes. Marsello’s presentation will include an orientation to LERN’s work. Jeanette Toohey, OLLI director at the University of North Florida, which uses LERN models, will introduce Marsello and offer insight on their success with the LERN model. Note: This breakout is being repeated Tuesday afternoon to accommodate high interest in the topic.
Diversity and Community Outreach
Diversity and inclusion within Osher Institutes is a common but sometimes elusive goal. Some OLLIs are having success partnering with community organizations and offering programming that explores racial, religious, and ethnic diversity issues. This session features a panel of representatives of OLLIs that have piloted such efforts using materials from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Created Equal” films and curricula related to the Civil Rights movement. The panel will include OLLI directors Christine Catanzarite of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Katy Crapo of the University of Georgia, and Catherine Frank of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, along with moderator Tricia Inlow-Hatcher of North Carolina State University, who will begin programming this fall using NEH’s “Muslim Journeys” series.
Sages and Seekers
The nationally acclaimed intergenerational program Sages & Seekers has been pairing college students with Brandeis’s Osher Institute members for three years. Sages & Seekers founder Elly Katz will tell the story of this innovative eight-week program and how it builds community. Participants in this session will learn how the program has produced profound results for both generations—elders feel more relevant and engaged, and youth feel more empathy for and connection with their seasoned new friends. This could be the model of intergenerational programming that many Osher Institutes have been seeking to enrich the lives of their older adult members.
Finding the Right Online Registration Software
This panel will look at considerations in the selection of online registration software. Gain insights into end-user considerations, business practices affected by software selection, “back-office” functionality, and overarching concerns for OLLIs contemplating registration software choices. Attendees will be equipped for future complex discussions with software vendors rather than given names of specific vendors. Panelists will include OLLI executive director/registrar Lyn Decker of Carnegie Mellon University, volunteer and advisory board chair Sue Gesing of the University of Southern Maine, and University of Minnesota OLLI executive director Sandra Stevenson (moderator).
Social Media 101
Participants in this interactive session will be allowed and even encouraged to admit they don’t understand some of the mechanics and netiquette of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or how these can help market an Osher Institute. Co-presenters Matt Weidman, OLLI director at Widener University, and Widener OLLI advisory board member Ed Goll will help participants understand social media, especially Facebook. Participants will learn tips and tricks about hosting an OLLI program page as well as about personal pages and profiles. Bring an iPad, smartphone, or laptop to practice as features and functions are demonstrated. A major benefit to attending this session: it’ll make everyone look hipper in front of fellow OLLI members and their kids or grandkids!
Learn from LERN
Many Osher Institutes are members of the Learning Resources Network, the world’s largest association in continuing education and lifelong learning, and use its planning models. Greg Marsello, LERN vice president for organizational development, will present an overview about creating a long-term strategic plan rather than a shorter-term business plan. He will also talk about how a business plan relates to strategic planning and build short-term plans for three sizes of Osher Institutes. Marsello’s presentation will include an orientation to LERN’s work. Jeanette Toohey, OLLI director at the University of North Florida, which uses LERN models, will introduce Marsello and offer insight on their success with the LERN model. Note: This breakout is being repeated Tuesday morning to accommodate high interest in the topic.
Whether it’s space utilization or explosive growth in membership or in programs, growth management is a common theme among OLLIs. This session will discuss challenges and brainstorm possible solutions. Smaller groups will discuss particular issues. Ideas that emerge will be shared with the entire conference body in future weeks. Catherine Frank, OLLI executive director at University of North Carolina at Asheville, will moderate. Note: This breakout is also being repeated Wednesday morning to accommodate high interest in the topic.
Branding Your OLLI
The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is generously making available the ideas and intellectual property rights of its “We Are OLLI” marketing campaign to all OLLIs. Created by Gary Creek, recently retired executive communications manager and former assistant vice president for UA Marketing, the campaign features short videos (some in PSA or commercial lengths) in which a variety of members confess their love for OLLI. These spots are suitable to stream on a website or submit to local media outlets as public service announcements. Gary will provide an entertaining and informative look at the branding strategy behind the campaign and how it can be tailored for any OLLI. Director Jennifer Anderson and UA Dean Craig Edelbrock will offer comments on the campaign’s effectiveness.
OLLI and University Leadership Changes—the Challenge of Creating New and Sustaining Relationships
Long-standing personal ties and institutional support need to be reaffirmed when host-institution leadership or OLLI directors change. This session will look at two Osher Institute programs that accomplished transitions with positive results. A concerted two-year effort to sustain and strengthen OLLI-university relations at George Mason University, undertaken by OLLI executive director Jennifer Disano and supported by OLLI president Glenn Kamber, has achieved great success. At the Osher Institute at the University of Dayton, assistant dean for special programs of continuing education Julie Mitchell ties the program’s success in managing changes to the university’s founders, the Marianist religious order, and to OLLI’s living, breathing example reflecting the institutional mission. This session will reveal the outreach and engagement strategies used to fortify their programs and their universities. Learn techniques that can help any OLLI as they ride their own waves of change.
Broadening Your Arts Partnership Horizon
The three OLLIs represented in this session have found innovative ways to partner with arts organizations by expanding their sights beyond their hometowns. Moderator Megan Whilden, OLLI director at Berkshire Community College (a veteran of arts partnerships and administration before joining OLLI), and OLLI directors Shelley Morse of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Ann Nikolai of California State University, Chico, and Wichian Rojanawon of the University of Massachusetts Boston will describe such partner examples as the New York Metropolitan Opera Live, the National Theatre Live in London, the Joe Goode Dance Performance Group of San Francisco, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian’s “OLLIs and American Art” program. Participants will come away from this session with not only new ideas but also information on how to use technology to expand the scope of partnerships.
Successful Curriculum Committees
Anne Wallace, OLLI director at American University, will moderate a panel of volunteer leaders of three diverse Osher Institutes to discuss the secrets of successful curriculum committees. The panel will answer questions such as these: How do dedicated groups keep up with recruitment, coordination, and dealing with burnout while devising course offerings (often more than 50 or even 100 courses a term)? What personal attributes and skills prepare volunteers for this work? How can OLLI leaders ensure the quality and longevity of superstar committees? Bring questions about how to make a curriculum committee the best it can be.
Whether it’s space utilization or explosive growth in membership or in programs, growth management is a common theme among OLLIs. This session will discuss challenges and brainstorm possible solutions. Smaller groups will discuss particular issues. Ideas that emerge will be shared with the entire conference body in future weeks. Catherine Frank, OLLI executive director at University of North Carolina at Asheville, will moderate. Note: This breakout is also being repeated Tuesday afternoon to accommodate high interest in the topic.