Newsletter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois - May 2014
Letter from the Director
Dear OLLI Friends,


As I write this, I have just returned from the OLLI National Conference, which I attended with our Board Chair Craig Cutbirth in San Diego on April 28-30. I came away from the conference brimful of admiration for the work of our counterpart institutes across the country, and with a long list of notes about some exciting ideas that we might consider "borrowing" from other OLLIs!


On our own campus, we are the only one of our kind - but for the three days of the conference, we were among like-minded friends who share our own triumphs, interests, and concerns. There were conference sessions on such timely topics as strategic planning, fundraising, inclusiveness, and technology (I gave a presentation on collaborations and partnerships). . .and the meals and breaks buzzed with questions: "How do you find your instructors? How are your study groups organized? Where do you park?" (Our large, free parking lot drew several envious sighs, which reminded me once again of how lucky we are in that regard, and so many others!)


Mr. Osher, the Osher Foundation, and the OLLI National Resource Center have done so much good work through their commitment to lifelong learning. They are truly changing lives - almost 130,000 of them, to be exact! And 1,150 of them are right here at OLLI at Illinois.  


As we approach the end of another year, I think back on the many ways we have congregated during the past year for enriching educational and interactive experiences: 74 courses; 62 member-led study groups; 35 lectures; numerous special events including our November dinner, Oscar contest, movie and pizza party, day trips to Bloomington for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Chicago to see Wicked and experience the Chicago Jazz Festival, and Peoria to see the "Chihuly and Friends" exhibit; and other activities.  


Since January, we have doubled the size of our Citizen Scientist Program, and have continued to pursue long-standing collaborations and explore new partnerships. And, this year, we have welcomed scores of new members to join our active, engaged community of lifelong learners - and benefited from the continuing participation of many members who have nurtured OLLI since its inception in 2007.


And the year is not over! We still have a full calendar of study groups and lectures and plans - including our always-exciting Annual Meeting and Dinner on June 10, at which we will celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and begin looking ahead to next year. The Annual Meeting will also give me an opportunity to say something that can't be said enough: Thank you.  


To all of our members who give so generously of your time and resources and talents to make OLLI at Illinois a dynamic, welcoming, transformational program - I am so grateful for all you do! And to Janet Summers and Kate Freeman, who bring so many skills to their roles and go above and beyond the call of duty in every situation, many thanks!


Best wishes,



And the Oscar Contest Prize Goes To. . .

The Third Annual OLLI Oscar Contest attracted more than 50 participants, who carefully filled out their ballots before the awards were handed out in Hollywood on March 2. OLLI members - known for their discerning taste and appreciation of film - were remarkably skilled at predicting the winners in a year full of close races and upsets.


There was an impressive showing by several winners, whose prizes included DVD sets of classic Hollywood films along with popcorn and candy. Yes, it's an honor just to be nominated - but congratulations to our winners!



Mary House

Char Pekoz



Emmie Fisher



Eileen Kohen


HONORABLE MENTION - 14 CORRECT (and a prize of a movie-sized candy treat):

Isabel Cole

Joyce Eisold

Emily Lewis

Kathy Zeiders



OLLI logo
In This Issue
Photo Credits: Many thanks to photographers
Pat. Chapel, Martha Wagner and Al Wehrmann for their beautiful photos for this issue. Banner photo of wild bloodroots in Lodge Park by Pat. Chapel.  

OLLI Calendar


OLLI Annual Meeting  

and Dinner

Tuesday, June 10 - 5:15 p.m.

Sign up now! Invitations and registration information have been sent to all members.


Membership Renewal/New Member Sign-Up

Begins on Monday, May 19

All current memberships expire on June 30 - and the next year's membership will cover the period from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.


Detailed instructions for renewing your membership (and for new-member sign-ups) will be sent to all current members and announced on the OLLI website.


Fall Courses

The fall course schedule will be available online and in the office on Monday, June 9.


Course registration for the fall semester will begin on Tuesday, July 1.


The 8-week fall semester will begin on Monday, September 8.


Study Groups

The Spring 2014 study group session is drawing to a close. The session has included many new facilitators as well as seasoned ones, with the highest number of study groups offered to date: 22 in all!


OLLI is grateful to the Study Group Committee as well as all facilitators and group members for making this a successful session.


The Early Summer session of OLLI Study Groups begins on May 27 and ends the week of July 7.  


The Late Summer session runs from July 14 to the week of August 25. Proposals for the late summer session are due on Monday, June 16.

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The Buzz
OLLI members who attended Professor Dennis Baron's May 7 lecture on "Guns and Grammar" - and those with an interest in grammar, language, and technology - may wish to read his informative blog, "The Web of Language."
News from the classroom
The last week of classes is always a mix of excitement about the energy that has been sustained throughout the semester and regret that a favorite class is ending so soon. Many spring courses ended with a celebration - and, in some cases, a demonstration of applied skills learned during the semester.


Tom Neufer Emswiler's course on Clean Comedy: Humor from Different Faith Perspectives culminated in a session where many of the students got up and tried their hand at joke-telling. Many of them were novice stand-up comics, but all of them agreed that it was exhilarating to share humorous stories with their classmates and instructor - and,

judging by the laughter that echoed through the OLLI office that afternoon, they were very successful in their performances!


Another opportunity to make an in-class presentation came in the course on Storytelling: The Art of the Spoken Word, co-taught by Dan Keding and Kathe Brinkmann. Students shared stories that they had written themselves or favorite stories by other authors, and the instructors recorded the storytellers. Those recorded stories were compiled on a DVD, which the instructors then gave to each student as a souvenir of a wonderful and rewarding classroom experience.


Kent Conrad taught the very popular course on The History of Cabaret, a subject he knows well as an accomplished musician who has performed his own cabaret act at venues including the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.  The final class session ended with a party (even a cake encouraged students to "come to the cabaret"!) featuring Dr. Conrad, a piano, and a live performance of songs including "Crazy World" (from Victor/Victoria), a "deeply existential" rendition of the theme from The Flintstones, and "Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House," a song from 1941 that is full of playful Beethoven references, both musical and lyrical. The performance and semester-ending celebration was, as one student noted, much better than sitting alone in your room!


History Department doctoral candidate Bao Bui taught his first OLLI course this spring, on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: Literature, Film, and Culture.  In addition to sharing his deep knowledge of Austen's writing and cultural significance with the class, Bao (whose professional history includes working as a forest firefighter in Colorado, on a kibbutz in Israel, and as a professional chef) celebrated the last class meeting by baking chocolate croissants for the students. It was a sweet conclusion to a richly enjoyable and educational class. (As Austen herself might say, "It has been many years since I have had such an exemplary pastry!"

Mark Morris Dance Group at OLLI - March 13

Each year, the groundbreaking Mark Morris Dance Group spends a week in residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, culminating in their public performances at the Krannert. This residence is a rare and valuable opportunity for the campus and community to interact with the MMDG in a wide variety of programs and activities - and this year's residency included an afternoon spent at OLLI. For one day, we became the Osher Lifelong Dancing Institute!


The session began with a short presentation by Huong Hoang, the General Manager of MMDG, and company dancers Lesley Garrison and Sam Black - who talked about their training and their experiences with the company, Mark Morris' dance philosophies, and the intricacies of creating a dance program. They then led the participants in a series of warm-up exercises before launching into teaching us a complex series of steps taken directly from their current program. (What fun it was to see those steps performed the next night - with much more skill, of course, but no less enthusiasm than OLLI's dancers brought to the workshop!) The afternoon ended with another creative exercise and the MMDG's post-rehearsal ritual of thanking the other dancers for being a part of the experience.


The dancers were accompanied, throughout the afternoon, by Tatsuya Nakatani, a renowned percussionist who was on campus for a performance that evening at the Krannert Art Museum's Sudden Sound concert series. He offered to join us when he heard about the MMDG workshop at OLLI - and his music was a wonderful addition to the creative spirit that infused the afternoon's activities.


We would like to thank all of the performers and participants who made this such a success - and also extend our heartiest thanks to Emily Laugesen, Youth Services Director at the Krannert Center; Mike Ross and the team at the Krannert; and Jason Finkelman, curator of the Sudden Sound series, for making this event possible.  

Click on the video image below to watch the event on Youtube!  


Websites for OLLI-ites - Read Up Green Thumbs

Get ready for spring in the Midwest with some gardening tips that include informative websites and an app for your smart phone. Happy Spring...finally!

OLLI e-Reviews
Advice from OLLI'S Greatest Resource - You


Now that the weather is getting warmer, OLLI members share their favorite local outdoor spots.


"Minimal Response III"
(aka "Hammerheads")

by Ed Benavente
at the Wandell Sculpture Garden at Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
Joan Klein

Try Meadowbrook Park in Urbana.  It's a wonderful walk.


Phyllis Gingold

I love to walk outside. My favorite place is Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. The trails are lovely and the sounds and sights are scrumptious. I am always excited to discover a new bloom, broken twig pile, evidence of animals, etc. on my walk. I feel so alive and free when I walk there as opposed to inside. Give me warm, breezy air and away I go. Don't join me because I am selfish about my walks and want to focus only on what I see, feel, smell, taste, and touch. No interruptions, please!


Robin Schingel

Meadowbrook Park in Urbana.


Kathleen Holden

Meadowbrook Park, close to home.


Carol Kubitz

Bill and I like to talk the paths in Meadowbrook Park because the park is close with great open spaces.


Jan Siders

I love Meadowbrook Park. Walking there through the seasons is a visual masterpiece! The added beauty of the sculptures and watching the crops grow in the community gardens and the wildlife are so fulfilling to me. Walk there, you will return!


Janice and Mel Rothbaum

Urbana's Meadowbrook Park is our favorite place for walks when most of our body parts are working.  It's especially nice in the early morning when one is likely to see deer and other critters.  But for reading or eating we're perfectly content to take the air on the deck in our own back yard.


Morton Brussel

Meadowbrook Park.


Diane Pedersen

We love to take our dog for a walk in Meadowbook Park.


Eileen Kohen

Number one on my list is Meadowbrook Park. It's close enough to walk from my home and provides beautiful vistas during all four seasons. Love the sculptures. Makes me happy!  


Dolores Joseph

Japan House and gardens on Lincoln Avenue is an ideal spot.


Eileen Kohen

Number two on my list is Japan House and the surrounding grounds, which we re-discovered last year. Years ago when this was a local dog park we visited regularly with our dog. The dogs all enjoyed frolicking and retrieving sticks in the ponds until they were banned from the area. I'm amazed at the transformation now.  Lots of visitors enjoy the beautiful gardens and ponds.  The many blooming trees make spring a great time to visit.


Busey Woods, Urbana 

Seasonal ponds in
Busey Woods, Urbana
Barbara Meyer

 This 59 acre natural area is a remnant of the Big Grove, the oak and hickory forest that stood in this area when settlers arrived. Just north of Crystal Lake Park, it was rescued by the Urbana Park District from becoming a dumping ground and industrial site in the 1970s. Now you can explore its seasonal ponds, spring wildflowers, birds and wildlife, and deer, from an accessible boardwalk, as well as hiking trails that take you further into the woods. Spring wildflowers are dazzling but fall is magical in Busey Woods.   Start your walk at the new Gateway Trial leading from the Anita Purves Nature Center.  


Indian Acres Swim Club, Champaign

Andrea Beller

I like to swim at Indian Acres Swim Club.


Cheri Sullivan

I live near Morrissey Park and used to think it was the ugliest park I'd ever seen! But time and the Champaign Park District have transformed it - the trees have grown and there is now a wonderful, winding trail around the perimeter. It's a lovely neighborhood spot for strolling, power walking, or picnicking. There's even a little manmade hill to climb if you want to add something extra to your daily exercise.


Porter Family Park, Champaign

Marilynne Davis

I like to walk my dog in the evenings to the park at Rising Road and Windsor. First we walk around the two ponds watching for the birds (the pup looks for rabbits). There is often a flock of yellow finches along the slough that borders the lakes. Then we go to the Pavilion to watch the sun go down across the farm fields. A very peaceful end to a summer day.


Twenty-two blue porcelain "Lion Dog" statues line the Fu Dog Garden at Allerton Park.
Allerton Park, Monticello
Pola Triandis

Allerton Park - check to see if the bluebells are blooming.


Kathleen Holden

Allerton Park for a day trip.


Samuel Bostaph

Walking the trails at Allerton in good weather.


Isabel Cole

My favorite spot, and I go out there at least once a month, is Allerton Park.  I love the trails and take my dog for a walk. It is magical! 


Priscilla Christians

Allerton Park is our favorite nearby hiking place, and we like to

Bloodroots in Allerton Park (photo by Al Wehrmann)

take guests there.


Al Wehrmann

I was just tromping through the woods at Allerton Park. The wildflowers are blooming and it promises more in the coming weeks.


Pauline Cochrane

Allerton Park, of course, for the daffodils. But beyond there, past hidden garden, is a grove of trees where bluebells spring to life.  


Pat. Chapel

From April 15th to the 30th, Lodge Park, Monticello, has THE best display of spring wildflowers. 


Lodge Park is the site for the Monticello Freedom Festival fireworks display, which takes place on July 3 each year.
Sandy Bales

Lodge Park near Monticello has an abundance of every early woodland wildflowers - bluebells, trillium, spring beauties, May apples, jack-in-the-pulpit and more.


Priscilla Christians

We like Lake of the Woods Park for picnics.


Patricia Porter

Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve has a wonderful hiking/biking trail over 3 miles long. I enjoy an early morning hike throughout the summer. Feel free to join in. Plenty of free parking.


Sandy Bales

There are many spring walks to enjoy near CU. Wild hyacinth and blue-eyed Marys bloom along the Johnson Hill trail in the Middlefork River Wildlife area. 


The Middle Fork River Forest Preserve has over seven miles of hiking trails ranging from 0.8 to 2.2 miles. The Wildlife Management Area features a viewing platform that allows visitors the opportunity to observe a wetland teeming with life.
Moraine View State Recreation Area, Le Roy
Al Wehrman

Moraine View State Park is another local, wonderful place.


Karen Townsend

A perfect day trip would be the Landing at Kickapoo, just north of Oakwood.  They offer canoes for rent, either on the pond or on the river with hourly "drop-offs,"  a simple but great restaurant, and if you get tired of canoeing, you can go a mile or two down the road and rent a horse to carry YOU!!


Curtis and Susan Krock

We enjoy going to Homer Lake. There are nice well-maintained hiking trails, beautiful views of the lake, and excellent picnic facilities. It is a short drive East of Urbana on I-74 and makes a good day trip with good bird watching opportunities.


Jim Hamilton

Homer Lake is a pretty tranquil place, even on summer weekends.  I find it a nice place to canoe, hike, fish, and do some casual birding.  Lots of little-used trails.


Dirk Mol

Weldon Springs State Park, just a few miles southeast of Clinton, is less than an hour drive and a great getaway. It has a lovely spring-fed lake, a loop hiking trail around the lake with nice variation in terrain, more miles of trail through the woods and surrounding fields, a nice prairie restoration, a museum village with an old farmhouse and schoolhouse, picnic areas and shelters, rowboats and paddleboats for rent on the lake, even a small cafe where you can get a light meal and snacks. You can spend the day or just go for a few hours.  There's a good campground if you want to stay longer. And it feels like a world apart from CU.


Janice Bengtson

In 1983 my husband Stan and I bought a piece of property at Lake Sara just northwest of Effingham. Although the cabin was small, it accommodated well over twenty people during family Fourth of July activities. Eventually someone suggested building a tree house that still stands today as a "landmark" on Lake Sara. Over the course of the years, Lake Sara has become less of a weekend get-away and more devoted to year-round housing but it continues to have a public beach, a motel, and rental housing. It is a clean lake, and the fishing is awesome! A new bike path leads from the edge of Effingham to the lake.


Carol Mizrahi

For hiking and walking.


Julie Wilcox

Starved Rock Park is about two hours drive north - it is a good place for walking and has food service. (Also over-night lodging for those who would like to stay longer.)


 Watch a video for a two-minute tour of the Wildlife Prairie Park.   

Wildlife Prairie Park, Peoria

Carolyn Brown

My favorite outdoor spot is Wildlife Prairie Park near Peoria. There are nice trails to walk, benches to rest, and a train ride around the park. It's a great place to take children. The wildlife is all native to Illinois. On the other side of the exit is Jubilee Park. Don't forget to stop at the Jubilee Cafe for a piece of pie, and take home some slices, too. There are at least 20 different kinds!



Carol Mizrahi

For hiking and walking.


Samuel Bostaph

Walking the trails at Turkey Run in good weather.


Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton

Tony Welsh

Great time at Pere Marquette State Park over by Grafton, Illinois. It overlooks the spot where the Mississippi and Illinois rivers join. Great place to camp or just go there to see the sun set. Best view in the Midwest. 


Outdoor activities
Julie Ramsey

Birding, thanks to Greg Lambeth and his Birding 101 OLLI class! Birding is great anywhere and everywhere - always carry a bird book and binoculars!


Bruce Hemminger

Golf! Most of my group's golfing occurs at the University Golf Courses due to convenience, price and availability. We have played at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, the Gibson City Golf Course, Brookhill in Rantoul and Harrison Park in Danville. My favorite is the last one though each has good points.


There's No Place Like Home

Tony Welsh

In my yard and garden...all day long!


Pauline Cochrane

My own front yard, and back garden, in Urbana --- covered with daffodils, blue flowers on vinca minor, and an old quince bush in full bloom.


Weekend Getaways


Starved Rock, Pere Marquette, Turkey Run and WIldlife Prairie Park offer overnight stays in fine old lodges, log cabins and even grain bins or cabooses!


Starved Rock and Pere Marquette feature majestic stone and timber lodges which were constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Turkey Run's Inn was built earlier in 1919 when excursion trains from Chicago brought city-dwellers for an adventure in the country. All have modern amenities such as restaurants and swimming pools.


For something completely different, "spend a night in the wild" at the Wildlife Prairie Park! Here the lodging is unique. You can stay in the log Cabin on the Hill, the Prairie Stables, or one of the grain bins converted to "Cottages by the Lake". You can also spend a night in a caboose! As are the others, the Santa Fe Train Cabooses are modified and comfortable, with microwaves, refrigerators and coffee makers.


Many Thanks to Our Class hosts for Spring 2014

Member Photo Gallery  
"The Walk to the Japan House: Cherry Blossoms in Bloom"
by Martha Wagner

See more members' photos in our "Favorite Photos of Our Community"
Album on Facebook.
About Us
OLLI at Illinois is a member-focused community of adult learners that is supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Illinois Office of the Provost, and the generous donations of OLLI members and community partners. It is part of a network of 117 OLLI programs across the United States, and there are nearly 130,000 members nationwide.
OLLI at Illinois was launched in the fall of 2007 with 11 courses and 297 members. News of this exciting program dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning spread quickly, and we now have more than 1,150 members and offer approximately 40 courses per semester. In addition to classes in the fall and spring semesters, OLLI offers a dynamic schedule of programs and activities that includes lectures, study groups, travel opportunities, and collaborations with the Illinois campus and the communities in and around Champaign-Urbana.
OLLI Staff
Christine Catanzarite, Director
Janet Summers, Outreach Coordinator
Kate Freeman, Office Manager
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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois
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