Electronic Newsletter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - November
In This Issue
OLLI Strategic Plan
Spring Courses
Instructor Spotlight: Fred Christensen
Kathleen Faces Retirement
Riding in Remembrance
Giving to OLLI
Istanbul/Venice Trip
E-Reviews:...Special Travel Destinations
Volunteer Opportunities
Olli Funnies
Quick Links
OLLI Events Calendar

OLLI Illinois Home Page

Study Groups
Lunchtime Lectures

OLLI logo
Editorial Committee: Anna Merritt (chair),  Debbie Day, Ann Einhorn, Pat Jordan, Traci Nally, Cecile Steinberg, Barbara Meyer (Technical Support). Please send your ideas, photos, and stories for consideration to

OLLI Strategic Plan - 2011 and Beyond  


At a board of director's retreat in August, the strategic plan adopted by OLLI in 2008 was reviewed.  About 30 people (the board, the staff, and several committee chairs) were in attendance. Stig Lanesskog facilitated the discussion.


The underlying principals of the strategic plan changed little from 2008. Our mission to be a member-driven organization that provides access to a high value life long learning community is the same. Our vision is to be the preeminent East Central Illinois provider of life long learning for adults over 50. But our strategic initiatives have morphed a bit to reflect how we have grown in the last 4 years.


In 2008 we were focused on defining board and committee roles. In 2011 and going forward, we will focus on more training for and an optimum composition for our board and committees. We want to improve mechanisms for member feedback. We need to make sure we have a successful transition to new OLLI leadership, particularly with Kathleen Holden's retirement, and the arrival of our new executive director.


In 2008 we were focused on developing our initial marketing plans to grow membership. Now, with a robust membership of 1000+ and growing, we are focusing more on enhancing the diversity of our membership, enhancing communication with members, making OLLI more visible and highly valued in our community, and making sure that the curriculum and the times at which classes are offered can satisfy the educational needs of as many members as possible.


With respect to OLLI's educational offerings, we more or less patted ourselves on the back by keeping several of the 2008 strategic initiatives in the new plan. We are still going to expand our course offerings, study groups, lunchtime lectures, social/travel programs, and faculty. In addition, however, we are going to explore faculty and content that may be available through technology from outside the C-U community. We also believe there is a significant demand from our membership for support with technology, and we are going to look into providing computer and technical support for members that would enhance their learning opportunities and capabilities. Given the terrific growth in our OLLI membership, and the growth of educational opportunities offered, we need to keep a careful watch on when and how we expand our facilities to meet the needs of our members.


Talking about money is sometimes painful, but the future of OLLI's funding was a crucial subject for our 2011 strategic plan, and so we tackled it. We have been lucky to get and grateful for the substantial operating and endowment funds provided to us by the Bernard Osher Foundation to begin OLLI at Illinois. Likewise, we could never have existed without the in-kind donation of physical facilities, among other things, from the University. But, like all responsible educational organizations, we need to  diversify our revenue streams in order to insure the future financial stability of OLLI, and to rely less heavily on Foundation and University gifts.


We want to increase member financial support of the organization through voluntary donations, develop a deferred giving program for members, and to increase donations and grants from organizations other than the Bernard Osher Foundation. At the same time, we have other opportunities to seek maximum endowment support from the Osher Foundation and we will do everything needed to retain that support.


To conclude the strategic plan, the board thought through some progress indicators and metrics, which we will use in the coming years to see if we are meeting our goals. If you are interested in seeing the actual plan, please stop by the office where it is on display.   




Spring Courses at OLLI


By the time you receive this issue of the e-News the 29 course offerings for next spring will be on the OLLI website - so check them out! Classes will begin the last week of January, but members can register as early as December 5. The full catalog will also be published as a supplement in the News-Gazette on December 12. In the meantime, here is a brief rundown.


Several classes will deal with contemporary issues. For instance, one focuses on "Understanding the Energy Challenge" and another on "The Changing World of Electric Power," which will look at renewable and sustainable strategies. Another course, "The Human Place in Nature," will run in conjunction with a campus wide lecture series on the "Scholarship of Sustainability." Global policy concerns will also be central to a course on "The Economic Growth of Nations and the Problem of Global Policy." In the international arena OLLI members can hear about issues confronting contemporary Russia, while closer to home they can discuss the workings of local city government.


The natural world will be the focus of three courses: one will investigate the how and why of animal behavior, another will look at the world of small animals, and a third will consider the field of genomics.


The spring menu of courses will include several literary offerings, including Nietzsche and C.S. Lewis, as well as children's literature and a survey of literature and war. Cinema and literature will come together in classes on the translation of Dickens' novels to the screen, and in another course participants will look at the role of women in movies and at life as portrayed in reality TV.


History buffs can examine the relatively unknown period in American history between 1660 and 1763, or they can reach further back to 1539-1543 in a course on "America's Ancient Chiefdoms." The may also choose to look into Abraham Lincoln's life as a lawyer riding the local court circuit.


Musicians, too, can reach back in time: to the 16th century equivalent of Broadway and the era of the madrigal. For those firmly rooted in the present, there will be a course on contemporary musical theater and another on three-minute jazz masterpieces. A three-session course will provide context for viewing dance.


Practicing artists and collectors of art will lead students in examinations of different aspects of the art world. OLLI members may choose to investigate aspects of visual persuasion, that is, how people interpret or misinterpret images, or they can ponder the question of whether painting still matters. They can also hear about the development of glass art, discuss how art relates to travel, and experience a variety of landscapes and cultures through the visual arts.



Fred ChristensenInstructor Spotlight: Fred Christensen

"Gladly would he learn and gladly teach." How perfectly Geoffrey Chaucer's description of the Clerk of Oxford, written more than six hundred years ago in his Canterbury Tales, fits OLLI instructor Fred Christensen. Fred has been a joyful learner all his life, and for the past four years has enthusiastically shared his knowledge with OLLI members. He has taught 8 courses, facilitated 10 study groups, and given 13 lunchtime lectures. His most challenging preparation, he says, was for his most recent lecture in which he presented 2000 years of Jewish history in 90 minutes!


As the son of a career Army officer, Fred and his family moved frequently as he was growing up: 2 years in Japan, 2 years in Illinois, 4 years in Germany, and 2 years in Kentucky. He stayed there to attend the University of Kentucky, receiving an AB in history and political science and an MA in German history.


Fred traces his interest in teaching to a high school presentation that he enjoyed giving and to the positive reinforcement of his classmates. He taught history for ten years at the University of Kentucky, military science for three years in the University of Illinois ROTC program, and the army's Command and General Staff course to National Guard officers in central Illinois. For the past twelve years, Fred has taught in Parkland College's Lifelong Learners program. Fred retired from the University of Illinois Admissions and Records office in 2007, just as OLLI was launched.


Fred's own love of learning is the basis for all that he does for OLLI. To prepare a course, Fred searches for the latest information on a topic, spending much time in the U of I library, and then travels, camcorder in hand, to continue his research "on location." This, he says, provides both mental and physical exercise. Fred credits OLLI member Don Francisco, a retired videographer, with greatly improving his presentation videos.


An annual trip to England is in Fred's travel plans. He is especially looking forward to taking Judie, his wife of 41 years and a retired librarian, to "my idea of heaven" ... Hay-on-Wye, a small English town with 29 used and rare bookstores. He would also like to make return visits to Denmark, his ancestral country, Germany and Israel. But his favorite destination right now is the Chicago area where his son Eric, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren live.


Kathleen Faces Retirement


After more than 30 years of full-time work, and a successful career, Kathleen is facing retirement with mixed feelings. While she is looking forward to such leisurely pleasures as being able to read a whole book at a time and to having more time to enjoy her children and grandchildren, she knows that it will be very hard to leave OLLI. "I planned to stay two years to get the program going," she says, "but I stayed longer because this is one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. I have so much enjoyed watching people come alive again through learning in a community."


In thinking about retirement, Kathleen points to a quote she found from Helen Keller: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." She is working on embracing that newly opened door and planning to travel and enjoy cultural experiences with her husband David, on organizing 60 years of photos, and on having more time to cook and work in her garden. She will continue to serve on the board of the Champaign County Humane Society -- and, of course, happily expects to attend OLLI classes as a student.


It will be difficult to pass the baton and let someone else take over; but Kathleen is very pleased that there are some excellent applicants for the directorship, and those who make the selection will have the admirable problem of choosing between really good candidates.


Riding in Remembrance            
By Joyce Francisco

Motorcycle RidersTim and Brenda Deaville and Joyce and Don Francisco left on August 17 on a police-escorted 9/11 memorial ride ( that pays tribute to those who died on September 11, 2001.  


This fund-raising ride provides scholarships to the children of first responders and grants to first responder organizations. The total ride group, about 2700 strong on about 1700 motorcycles, visited all 3 crash sites starting in western Pennsylvania and ending in New York City.  


At each site there was a memorial ceremony. Along the way the local police departments and our 200 motorcycle police escorts blocked all intersections and on ramps so we could have the local roads and interstates for the riders only.  


Joyce and Don have gone on this ride every year since 2003, except for last year when Don had problems with his back. It was the first time Brenda and Tim participated in the event, and in fact the first time they had been that far east.  


There was a lot of support in the communities that we rode through, with many people lining the streets and overpasses. In Cumberland, MD, Leesburg, VA, and Hightstown, NJ, it seemed that the entire populations were on the streets waving flags and banners, cheering us on, and thanking us for "remembering the souls of 9/11."  


On the way home, we stopped in Valley Forge, PA and Gettysburg, PA, where we took guided bus tours around the parks and learned a lot about what happened there. We had a great time riding together.


Giving to OLLI   


Portrait"Giving to OLLI is my way of saying thank you for all  

the wonderful classes, instructors and participants. I   

think of OLLI as a stimulating adventure bringing both  

'town and gown' together."

     Sandra R. Casserly, OLLI member






You may make your own OLLI thank you gift either 


on-line at 


or by mailing a check (made out to UIF/OLLI) to:  

University of Illinois Foundation,  

P.O. Box 3429,  

Champaign, IL 61826-3429.




Hear Ye -- Hear Ye: Istanbul/Venice Trip

Still Has a Few Openings


The end of May 2012 sounds very far off in the future, but if you've been thinking about joining some of your fellow OLLI members on the spring trip to Istanbul and Venice, you need to sign up now.


In addition to OLLI instructors Peter and Sharon Michelove, who know and love both cities and will be with the group throughout the trip, local on-site guides will provide special insights and additional information.


The trip, scheduled for May 16-25, 2012, includes five nights in Istanbul and three nights in Venice. The basic cost is $4679 (plus $388 for taxes and fees, and $337 for insurance); the down payment of $900 is due now. You will be billed for the rest in early January.


Please note that only seven seats are available at the present price -- and, while the final, final deadline for signing up is February 17, 2012, the price may well have gone up by then.


For more information, go to (where you can download a PDF of the brochure) or call Judy McElfresh toll free at 1-877-386-4777; brochures are also available at the OLLI office.



E-Reviews:  Traveling to Unusual Places   


With each issue of OLLI Illinois e-News, we invite our members to give us their personal views on a subject. We have asked about movies, books and local places to see and enjoy. This time, we wanted to know where members have traveled that would be most unusual or surprising. Here are our OLLI members' responses.  



Bari Arnote

I just went to the  Lazzaro Lapidary Museum in Elmhurst, IL. It had gorgeous pieces of precious and 

semiprecious stones but there were also huge pieces carved by Chinese and olden cultures into beautiful castles, and other things. This is a most unusual place to visit. I loved it, and I'm sure many others would too.

Marcy Joncich

It was truly amazing to observe a line of giraffes, extending as far as the eye could see, walking single file for their daily drink of water at a nearby lake in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. A trip to the zoo will never be the same.


Joan Hood

Peter and I traveled to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to witness the black-necked cranes migrate from Tibet to the Phobjikha Valley. Within a day and a half, waiting in an open field, we watched one quarter of the world's population fly in for the winter. Bhutan is one of the most environmentally-intact countries in the world.



Gary Jackson

I took a ten-day float trip down the Canning River located in the Arctic National WildlifeRefuge in northern Alaska. Along the way we saw and heard wolves, saw muskoxen, caribou, numerous birds, and abundant flowers against a background of mountains and seemingly endless tundra -- under the hot mid-day and cold midnight sun.


BrookGreen GardensDavid D. Crouse

Brookgreen Gardens (located between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) is well worth the time for any art or nature lover. This 350 acre public sculpture garden within a 9,000 acre nature preserve offers over 1,800 magnificent sculptures placed strategically over the glorious, historical grounds of a once-thriving rice plantation. We spent two wonderful days walking through gardens, reading the verse of many poets, gazing at beautiful American-figurative sculptures, enjoying outdoor dining and discovering the fascinating history of these gardens conceived and built by Archer Huntington (philanthropist) and Anna Hyatt Huntington, whose sculptures are a magnificent part of this outdoor gallery.


Marsha Gepner

Rugby is an authentic Victorian village "hidden" in East Tennessee; it has changed little since it was founded as a utopian settlement for unlanded English gentry in the1880s by British author Thomas Hughes (Tom Brown's School Days). It is both a historic site and living community whose original buildings have been restored and opened to visitors by present-day Rugby citizens. Rugby's most extraordinary site is its 19th century library containing thousands of volumes of the period, and believed to be America's oldest completely preserved public lending library.


John Buckmaster
I was on a private 10-day trek in Ladakh, Northern India, and late one day I, the horses, and the support staff got to a pasture bounded by steep rock faces where we planned to camp. There was a herd of Yak-like creatures there, in the charge of a young man, and he was herding them together for the night to more easily protect them from wild animals. To do this he used a sling shot, and with uncanny accuracy was able to strike each animal to move them precisely in the desired direction. As I sat drinking tea and watching this remarkable sight, I had an epiphany: Goliath didn't have a chance.

Annette and John Buckmaster
We were in Bali Indonesia in early 1991, not an unusual venue these days, but the first gulf war had just started and Indonesia, populated predominantly by Muslims, had been completely abandoned by tourists. One day we drove to a Hindu temple near Ubud and encountered a local guide who, after showing us the temple, invited us to a traditional funeral the next day at a local village. This was not tourist entertainment, but the real thing with a procession of body-bearers, a large white wooden bull (traditional), dancers, musicians, flowers, etc. After some elaborate maneuvers to confuse the ghosts the procession got to the cremation site; we were the only non-natives there.

tivoliCarol Betts

Forty-odd years ago my husband and I had a memorable visit to Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli when our friend Allan, who had lived in Italy for decades, accompanied us to the villa and afterward guided us to nearby fields, which were then unguarded. After poking around with a walking stick, Allan found an entryway to the underground passageways beneath the villa. We all slid down a narrow opening in the earth and then walked through dimly lit tunnels, clouds of bats preceding us as we moved from air shaft to air shaft. The crude openings were large enough to accommodate the occasional stray vehicle, and at one point we passed by the carcass of a Fiat (perhaps "hot") that lay before us like a turtle on its back. These tunnels were reputedly Hadrian's secret playgrounds, or at least the passages traversed by the emperor's household staff.


Ann Russell

The most surprising place I have visited is the church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. As a history major, I stood in awe looking at the 1500 year old mosaics of the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.


Kathy & Ron Alexis

Like the first time you see the Grand Canyon, you cannot see it until you get to the edge of the canyon and look down at Machu Picchu, Peru. You have to get to the top (7970 feet above sea level) and look down into these most magnificent ruins. It is huge and breathtaking! No wonder the Spanish never found it!


Tauby Shimkin

Down a long winding road, off Highway 1, in California to Pfeiffer Beach, at the shoreline, a monumental rock, hollow, with the ocean crashing through an arch. We lucked out at sunset. I sat there, at one with the innumerable generations before me, totally awestruck. Find the beach at You Tube, complete with sunset.


Machu PicchuLinda Farrand

Machu Picchu for sure. The feeling of peace and serenity surrounds you. And as the mist clears during the afternoon and the mountain peaks are right in front of you, it all becomes a mystical experience. Amazing and profoundly moving.


Dick Koch 

Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is unique because it's only 6200 feet high but has the highest wind speed recorded in North America, 231 mph, and in only 6200 feet goes from a traditional climate zone to an uninhabitable subarctic climate zone.


Arcelia Watson

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to spend over 3 hours on the Great Wall of China. When I was in grade school, I saw pictures of the Great Wall in my geography book. China seemed too far away for me to ever be there. What a thrill.


Sharon Henson

One of the most unusual places I have visited in the U.S. is Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona. The canyon sustains a living community of Navajo people, who are connected to a landscape of great historical and spiritual significance. It is unique among National Park service units, as it is composed entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the canyon community. The cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly include distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery.




Raya Avichai

The place I remember most fondly is the southern island of New Zealand. It's a land of Alpine mountains, green pastures and blue lakes. Its peaceful aspect belies its, literally, volcanic nature, as recently demonstrated by a devastating earthquake.


David L. Gross

As a geologist I have visited many wonderful places. Highlights include two months working in Antarctica, twice driving round trip on the Alaska Highway, twice floating ten days down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and, my current favorite, time on the lake at my summer home in northern Minnesota. The common theme is substantial time outdoors.


Diann Barbee Thoma

Outside a town in China located near Cincinnati (relatively speaking), you would find a complete subterranean army (infantry to generals) of life-sized terracotta warriors lined up row after row after row in battle formation, each warrior individually crafted and unique, including facial expression, hairstyle, etc. Only about 1,000 warriors and their weapons have been excavated, so far, out of an estimated 7,000, in addition to 130 chariots with horses and 110 cavalry horses. This army was built by Emperor Qinshihuang (ruled 221-207 BC), and 700,000 laborers, to protect his tomb (which has yet to be opened). It is simply one of the most stunning spectacles I have ever seen.


Carol Kubitz

We once visited the tip of the North Island of New Zealand. Twelve degrees below the Tropic of Capricorn is Cape Reinga where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet and collide, as they battle for dominance. We were up on that high point looking out at endless turbulence. It was eerie and unforgettable, magical and entrancing.


Marlene Goodfriend

In Jerusalem, when my daughter was a student at the Hebrew University, we toured the "shuk" or Arab market. My daughter introduced me to "amin hussani," the grandson of the "grand mufti," who operated a small gift shop kiosk and was very nice to the students. He served me tea (in a greasy glass) and insisted I stay and visit. I soon needed his toilet facilities, which were a toilet (no seat, no tissue) behind the wall with no doors, no privacy!


Diane Wardrop

Not Israel or Jerusalem, but Palestine. The land behind the 30 ft. high concrete "separation" wall that visitors to Israel never see. The wall was built with US money and equipment, behind which millions of refugees live in concrete ghettos. We visited in the West Bank village of Beit Jala for several days and had a delightful time with the people, with the food, with the scenery.


Rogem HiriFred Christensen

Rogem Hiri, a prehistoric stone circular structure (Stonehenge equivalent) in the Golan Heights east of Galilee. Hiked out to it with our daughter-in-law's Israeli dad, chatted with a jeep-load of UN peacekeepers on the way, and when we got there, found a busload of American New Age mystics who had driven in from the other direction. They waited for us to finish our viewing and filming before they joined hands to start their singing and chanting.

Pat Jordan

Last December John and I had a terrific time visiting Patagonia -- southern South America -- with an Overseas Adventure Tour group. There, the glaciers, many of which are still growing; unique animals to that part of our world; and majestic mountains and waterways go all the way to the Cape of Horn.


CamelsPat. Chapel

Just six hours away to Cumberland Ohio, for a Safari at "The Wilds." Knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff conducts tours in open air safari buses. A few deluxe yurts for overnight stays provide an extraordinary get-away. Check it out at 


Linda Jordan

At the invitation of the Cuban Department of Cultural Affairs I legally took my high school choirs twice to Cuba, in 2000 and 2001. My husband Charles and I also got to go a few months before the choirs on a previewing trip for choir directors and spouses or friends.



Volunteer Opportunities

The knowledge and experience of OLLI members is a much sought after resource and greatly appreciated by a variety of community organizations. Your e-News editors think we should occasionally help raise awareness of some of these opportunities. Below are two ideas we think may be of particular interest.


Bell ringers needed: Here's an opportunity to participate in a time honored event that supports an organization's good works in Champaign County throughout the year. The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual fund drive and needs bell ringers from now until Christmas eve. The bells ring on Monday - Friday from noon to 7 pm, and slots are available at County Market, Hobby Lobby, Schnucks, Gordmans, and Mahomet and Rantoul IGA. Wal-Mart and Sam's will also be available after Thanksgiving. Volunteer teams are encouraged to get together, help spread holiday cheer, and support an organization that has reached out to the homeless for over a century. Contact Envoy Mike Fuqua 373.7832 or to reserve a specific spot.


Website for volunteers: Have you visited recently? The website, which connects local non-profits and the community, is sponsored jointly by the United Way of Champaign County, the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement, Office for Math, Science, and Technology Education, and Office of Volunteer Programs. It has undergone a complete reorganization and has a brand new look.


The site now includes many more organizations, with more detail on job descriptions and available shifts, and browsing for a cause that interests you is much easier. Try using a variety of keywords such as tutor, gardening, animals, youth, senior, museum, library, and see what happens! You can even restrict your search by specific dates when you have time available.


If you create an account, you'll be able to sign up directly with the organization and submit your application online. Another handy new feature is a calendar on the home page that shows at a glance what events and needs are coming up, each linked to a separate page that offers more detail -- and if you have an account, it also allows you to sign up on the spot.


Currently, during National Education Week (November 13 -19), you may register to work as a reader, tutor, or mentor. A search using reader, tutor, or mentor in the keyword field under the Opportunities tab will yield a number of ongoing projects where your help is badly needed. - check it out!



OLLI Funnies  


Heartland Comic 

OLLI Funnies are created by David Zell.