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Electronic Newsletter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- September 2012

In This Issue
A Message from Director Chris
Profile: Craig Cutbirth
Shakespeare Outing
Thanks to our Study Group Facilitators!
E-Reviews: OLLI Courses
Web Watch
The Buzz...News from the classroom
Make Yourself at Home
Spring 2013 Travel Opportunity

OLLI's fall semester begins on Monday, September 17.   Registration is open now, and several of our exciting courses still have seats available.


OLLI fall 2012 study group proposals are due on October 1. The proposal form can be found online here. Please e-mail proposals to The fall session begins on November 12, 2012.

Editorial Committee: Cheri Sullivan (Chair), Frank Chadwick, Bonnie Hudson, Andrea Lynn, Barbara Meyer (Technical Coordinator). Please send your ideas, photos and stories for consideration to

A Message from Director Chris

Director Chris with Lucy the Elephant
I brought a little bit of OLLI with me on my visit to Lucy the Elephant.

"What I Did on My Summer Vacation"


This summer, I facilitated my first OLLI Study Group, on the topic of "Nostalgia in Film" - so I spent the first half of the summer in the company of characters who were looking back to the past. The films inspired some of the same kind of reflection in me; I found myself revisiting my own memories of the people and places and experiences that shaped me over the years.


Then, right in the middle of the summer, I turned 50. If any event is designed to inspire nostalgia, it is a milestone birthday. We are told that youth is a fond memory, our best days are behind us, and the future is a world of early-bird specials and senior discounts at the movies - and, if I had turned 50 in any other year, I might have believed it. But this is the year that brought me to OLLI, and now, at 50, I am eligible to be a member of this vibrant community dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning and unlimited vistas. 


In the past seven months, I have witnessed the lively and provocative discussions in classes and study groups and lectures, the curiosity that comes from exploring new places and ideas, the willingness to dive into the deep end of an unfamiliar subject. As the journalist Letty Cottin Pogrebin once said, "We can't be young again, but we can be new." On my 50th birthday, I climbed to the top of the world's tallest building shaped like an elephant - and as I looked out over the ocean, I could see a big new world beyond the blue horizon.


So, as we embark on the new academic year (our sixth year of offering courses at Illinois!), I am glad to say that I am now a full-fledged member of OLLI. I am looking forward
 . . . to a year of continued growth for our program, to exciting new courses and study groups, to an expanded calendar of lectures and travel plans and informal opportunities to socialize with our members. I am looking forward to experiencing all of these wonderful new things with you. I am looking forward.

-- Chris Catanzarite

OLLI Welcomes Craig Cutbirth as Board Chair

New OLLI Board Chair Craig Cutbirth and his wife, Beverly Herzog
Craig Cutbirth, our new OLLI Board Chair, comes from a strong academic background. He earned his undergraduate degree from Augustana College, just across the Mississippi River from his hometown of Davenport, Iowa. He received his master's degree in speech at Western Illinois University, and his PhD in the same field from Bowling Green University. He then taught speech and political communication at Illinois State University, along with stints as director of forensics and acting department chair, until his retirement in 2008. 
But aside from how those experiences shaped the man we know now, they have little to do with why he's our new Chairman. That has to do with what OLLI is really all about. 


What does OLLI mean to Craig? It means "learning something new," he said, "sharing what you already know with others, becoming an enthusiastic member of a unique community, and helping that community to keep on going." Craig epitomizes all of that. As soon as he retired, Craig became an OLLI member and, as with many of us, a tentative dalliance quickly blossomed into a full-blown love affair. Since joining, he has taken 19 courses and 12 study groups. He has taught three courses and led two study groups, with an emphasis on political communication and film. He's pitched in as a volunteer for OLLI on the Study Group Subcommittee, the Membership Committee, and the Board of Directors. 


He's also one of the friendliest, most approachable people in OLLI. If you have a question, concern, or suggestion, don't be afraid to take it to him.

 -- Frank Chadwick

Shakespeare Outing            

OLLI members enjoy a midsummer night at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival on July 1, taking in a performance of "As You Like It" along with a private backstage tour and a picnic dinner.
OLLI at the Shakespeare Festival

Thank you! 

We would like to recognize and thank our spring and summer 

Study Group facilitators, 

who generously shared their time and talents with the OLLI community:

Study Group Leaders


Reviews and recommendations from the perspective of OLLI's greatest resource, you.


For this issue we asked our members, "Have you done anything that was inspired by an OLLI course, study group, or lunchtime lecture?" 

Joyce Francisco

I took Fred Christensen's study group on Civil War movies. Other group members brought up facts about the war and I realized how little I knew about it, so I read Bruce Catton's one-volume The Civil War and was fascinated by all that I learned. My husband also took the study group and read the book when I was done.


Dana Thomas House Linda McEnerney

My husband and I took the course on Illinois Architecture by John Bennett and learned to appreciate the Prairie Style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Since then we've toured several of his master works: the Wright home in Oak Park, the Dana-Thomas home in Springfield, and Robie House at University of Chicago. This month we'll be viewing Taliesin and Unity Temple near Madison.


George Perlstein

Book In the New Yorker study group I volunteered to take on the discussion of an article about a right wing minister. It sent me to Amazon where I bought two books concerning the Continental Congress, the description of the presidential office and the roots of religion (or lack thereof) since the Pilgrims landed. I enjoyed the experience of expanding my horizons. The books are Revolutionary Spirits by Gary Kowalski and Mr. President by Ray Raphael.


George Brock

Much has happened in response to either participating in discussion groups or taking classes: I purchased many books from suggested reading lists; learned from fellow participants; shared books, DVDs, and learning resources from my library; think much more critically when watching a movie or reading; discovered that learning can be fun in the absence of fear of failure; and enjoyed meeting and talking to a whole new group of people. And if the truth be told, OLLI interrupted my afternoon nap habit!


Annette Buckmaster

I attended a short story study group led by Paula Watson at OLLI. I liked it so much that I started a short story discussion group for my friends in CU and another one in Eugene, Oregon, where I have a second home. The Eugene one was so successful that the University of Oregon's OLLI heard about it and started one there. That has been so successful that there is a waiting list for members to join.


Frank Chadwick

War and Peace Nancy Blake's War and Literature class brought me back to War And Peace, a favorite book of my youth but one I've been away from for too many years. A little later I hauled by multi-DVD copy of Sergei Bondarchuk's epic film version out of storage and Craig Cutbirth and I watched it over the course of several sittings. Wonderful stuff!


War HorseGeorgia Green

As a result of John Bennett's Children's Literature class, I watched Hugo and War Horse, bought the Hugo Cabret book for my son to read to his son, bought a bunch of children's books for all my grandchildren, and borrowed a ton of children's books from the Urbana Free Library. It was an awesome course, and I hope he will offer more.


David Niven Donna Davis-Pearson

Frank Chadwick's Hollywood Goes to War study group inspired me to take time away from movies and actually read books again. Frank mentioned David Niven had been in the British Army Special Forces during WWII and was the only British movie star who left Hollywood to return to England to enlist when the war broke out. I have since read two autobiographies by David Niven (The Moon's a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses) and started a biography about him.


Doug Foster

I took Sharon Michalove's class on bicycle films. I like to ride my bike. I had quit riding my bike and now I have started again.


Cahokia Mounds Jeff Kirby

Last year my wife and I attended a lunchtime lecture on Cahokia Mounds given by Fred Christensen.  Very interesting. I followed up by reading two books on historic and pre-discovery North and South American civilizations (America's First Civilization by Michael D. Coe and Cahokia by Timothy Pauket). I learned quite a bit and now view museum exhibits on these topics quite a bit differently.


Barbara Hartman  

I went on the Istanbul/Venice trip and read Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon, a spy novel set in Istanbul immediately following World War II. It was fun to read the names of places we visited on our trip.


Nardi BookBarbara Meyer

Many classes have inspired me to read, but one sent me out to dig in the dirt. Jim Nardi's "World Beneath Our Feet" revealed the miraculous world in the soil. Now I feel affection for slime molds, slugs, millipedes, ant lions and digger bees. Now I have four compost piles, turn over decaying logs and search for glowworms at night. I learned that earwigs tenderly care for their larva and that there are underground predators so frightening that if they were any bigger we'd be afraid to leave the house.  


Fort Kaskaskia Sam Reese

After I took Fred Christensen's class called Early Illinois, my wife, Susan, and I took a trip to southeast Illinois and Missouri to see the French forts and settlements - Kaskaskia, St. Genevieve, Fort De Chartres and Prairie Du Rocher. I was not aware of these historical sites until Fred's course and his explanations made the trip much more enjoyable.


Web Watch  
Websites for OLLI-ites  

Keep on learning

Would you like to play the guitar? Take a course at Stanford? Read the classics? Study a foreign language? The No Excuse List has links to sites all over the web that will help you find a place online to learn something new -- for free.


Travel far and wide

Before you pack your bags and head out the door, take a look at Senior Travel. It covers everything from road trips in the USA to charging your electronic devices abroad. Much of the information on the site is useful to any traveler, but there are many tips especially for seniors -- such as reduced rates for retirees, senior cruises, and traveling with a walker, wheelchair or cane.


NPS logo America the Beautiful

Here's one travel tip we learned by checking the web: The U.S. Geological Survey offers a $10 lifetime pass for seniors (age 62 and over) to all national parks and federal recreation lands -- more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five federal agencies. Find out how to get your pass by checking their website


The Buzz 
News from the classroom

Two Would-Be Queens

Sharon Michalove reports that technology can be a wonderful thing. They have enhanced this study group by using Skype to visit with the biographer of Margaret of Anjou, the subject of one of the historical novels they are reading. To top it off, they then Skyped with the two authors of the novel, which led to some lively discussion.


U505 Submarines

Someone in this study group led by Robbie Russell and Ted Vaughan would like to get deep into the topic - literally! Tim Smith is planning a trip up to the Museum of Science and Industry to go through the German World War II U-boat on display there.


Werner Herzog Documentaries

How impressive is Herzog as a director? Teresa Prussak-Wieckowska reports that Ramin Bahrani, whom Roger Ebert called the "director of the decade," said, "If I could meet Herzog, I would crawl to him on my knees." This study group has been watching and discussing some incredible movies.


The Best Mystery Short Stories of 2011

Dick Helfrich led a discussion on the story "Who Stole My Monkey," the title taken from the name of a popular zydeco song. When Dick recommended the video of the song, Sharon Michalove brought the video up from YouTube on her iPad and patched it through the room's computer interface so the group could watch it on the flat screen TV. Having that sort of AV support available really helps broaden the experience in this study group led by Bev Herzog and Tim Smith


William Maxwell - Two Novels

Last May the first OLLI Maxwell study group went on a short field trip to the U. of I. Rare Book and Manuscript Library to take a privileged peek at Maxwell's literary archive. The group wrapped up the session near Camargo, at Pauline Cochrane's cabin on Patterson Springs, where it paid tribute to Maxwell, Illinois' loyal native son. Cochrane and Mary Ellen Dorner were co-facilitators for the first Maxwell group; John Bennett joins them as the third co-facilitator for the current session, which will conclude with a patio party at Andrea Lynn's house. They are planning another literary study group, perhaps on Eudora Welty.


Triplets of Belleville poster I Love to Ride My Bicycle

Have you ever "trued" a wheel? For the most imaginative bicycle repair you've ever seen, check out the movie The Triplets of Belleville, where Grandmother Souza straightens out a bent wheel using a reproduction statuette of the Eiffel Tower and a tuning fork. Members of Sharon Michalove's study group seem to have gotten some creative advice as well as a great deal of enjoyment from this class.


Writer's Cafe
It's great when OLLI study groups share with each other. Tim Smith from the William Maxwell study group realized an interview with Urbana novelist and long-time New Yorker editor William Maxwell touched on many themes the Writers' Cafe study group, led by Frank Chadwick, is covering and so he shared it with that group. And Frank's jambalaya had been mentioned several times in the Writers' Café, so last week Frank made a big batch and brought it ahead of class for anyone who was around the offices -- board members just getting out of a meeting, the OLLI staff, the Writer's Cafe study group, and the I Love My Bicycle study group all partook. Thanks, Tim and Frank!

Make Yourself at Home
Life at OLLI  

OLLI offices We've been hearing a lot of questions about the OLLI facility -- how much of the building belongs to OLLI, and what can we use inside that space? This new column will answer member questions about OLLI facilities and services. In this issue we'll describe the OLLI space and then focus on the kitchen area. There really is a lot to take advantage of!


OLLI's space in the building. The actual "territory" of OLLI consists of the main group of rooms, including the Study Group Room and the OLLI Classroom, clustered around the office area as well as the large Fox Classroom on the opposite side of the building. A partial kitchen and a lounge with comfy chairs, a small library and a television are located in the open space near the offices.


Coffee maker. This is here for your convenience. A small donation of fifty cents to a dollar is appreciated to help cover the expense to stock it. If you're short one day, don't worry about it. Enjoy your coffee and drop in some change the next time you're in. Also, feel free to bring your favorite flavors of tea and store them in the cabinets.


Cabinets. You'll find glassware (plastic-ware actually) in the cabinets over the sink, useful for water or any soft drinks you bring. The office supplies, which are labeled as such, are for staff use only.


Microwave. This is here for your use as well -- to heat sandwiches and frozen lunches, boil water for tea and instant soup, or even pop corn for film classes.


Refrigerator. Feel free to keep your lunch here if you like, just remember to remove your food before you leave for the day. You can also bring a frozen meal, keep it in the freezer during class or a meeting, and use the microwave to heat it up. There's an icemaker for ice water.


Frozen peas.  Please don't eat them! They are in the freezer for first aid. If anyone needs a cold compress, a bag of frozen peas is perfect because it conforms to the shape of the surface. So if you twist your ankle, you know where to look and you don't need to worry about stealing someone's lunch.

-- Frank Chadwick.


Santa Fe rugs

Spring 2013 Travel Opportunity 

OLLI will organize a trip "Land of Enchantment: New Mexico" on May 15-23, 2013, led by
Fred Christensen and organized by Tour Group Planners. This tour will include historically and culturally significant locations in and around Santa Fe and Albuquerque. 


We will host an information session at OLLI on Friday, September 28 from 9 - 10:30 AM where OLLI members will have the opportunity to learn more from Fred Christensen and Becky Luka (Tour Group Planners), and to ask questions as well. This session is free and open to all members, but advance registration is required. Sign up by sending an e-mail to, calling 244-9141, or registering at the office.