After six years at the Modern Maturity Center the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has a home of its own at the College Business Park.
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and Sen. Brian Bushweller were among community leaders who attended the July 19 grand opening. It represents a turning point for the organization, said Tim Plimpton, program coordinator.
“This program is truly viable and can grow into something that will stand on its own and deserves its own presence in the community,” he said. People typically find out about Osher by word of mouth.
The Osher center offers those who are 50 years or older a chance to further their education. The three-month classes are free. The only cost with is the annual $275 membership fee.
Courses are usually taught by members who are experts on certain subjects. However, that is often supplemented by inviting an expert who isn’t associated with Osher.
The center was first created as the University of Delaware Academy of Lifelong Learning. A 2010 endowment by the Osher Foundation is reflected in the name Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
On the opening day former Rep. Don Blakey gave a presentation on the Rosedale Beach Hotel and Resort, an establishment that catered to African American performers who couldn’t stay anywhere else because of their color.
Blakey said he liked the opportunity to educate.
“Every community has a history and from time to time things change,” he said. “If you don’t bring it up and present it, it’ll fade away and we’ll think that it was always this way.”
Blakey added a little flair to his presentation by performing pieces written by prominent black musicians like Duke Ellington.
Plimpton said bringing multiple ethnic groups to teach a course is critical.
“It’s essential to [Osher’s] lifeblood,” he said. “At the core the program is about connecting people with people.”
For example, an Osher member took a different approach while teaching French. She used a letter written by a solider during World War I that he had sent to a French girl.
“They were able to make a connection with a person from 100 years ago,” Plimpton said. “They were able to put themselves in her shoes and empathize with that person’s individual problems.”