Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia

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"This institution of my native state, the hobby of my old age, will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation." - Thomas Jefferson in letter to Destutt de Tracy, Dec. 26, 1820


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia (OLLI at UVa) brings together people from various backgrounds who share a common interest in learning and intellectual stimulation. Formed in association with the University of Virginia in 2001 as the Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning (JILL), the Institute was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own deeply-held belief in, and practice of, education as a lifelong enterprise which invigorates the mind and enriches life. Tailored to seniors’ lifestyles, classes are held in the daytime, almost always in places with convenient parking. The courses, lasting three to six weeks, fit the typical senior’s schedule. [1]

OLLI is recognized as a University-Related Foundation [2] by the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia, and in 2007 OLLI at UVa became one of now 117 institutes in a growing, national, lifelong-learning network for seasoned adults that is supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation founded in 1977 and headquartered in San Francisco.[3]


Aware that an active mind is as necessary to a full life as are social relationships and physical exercise, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia offers educational opportunities and intellectual enrichment to community seniors. The Institute is member-directed and draws upon its members’ resources, as well as other academic and community resources, to organize courses and other educational activities. In this stimulating environment, members may acquire new knowledge, explore ideas, exercise creativity, and share interests and expertise with others of retirement age.

OLLI at UVa is an all-volunteer organization with the exception of part-time office staff and production staff. Course instructors are specialists in their fields. Many are professors from the University of Virginia and from universities across the United States; others are professionals from the community at large.

Board of Directors





  1. Web. OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, retrieved January 3, 2012.
  2. Web. University-Related Foundations, University of Virginia, retrieved January 6, 2012.
  3. Web. Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, Bernard Osher Foundation, retrieved January 6, 2012.
  4. Web. Board of Directors/Committees/Staff, OLLI at UVa, retrieved January 7, 2012.

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