The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded a second $1 million gift to UCLA Extension to continue funding the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCLA.
Founded in 2004, the institute offers 125 courses on a diverse array of topics to adults 50 and older.
“We applaud the university’s leadership for its steadfast support of the institute and for embracing the notion that — at its best — education is a lifelong pursuit that has the power to elevate, delight and forge our connection to one another and to a larger world,” said Mary Bitterman, president of the Bernard Osher Foundation, which has established nearly 120 such institutes at universities nationwide. The foundation previously donated $1 million to UCLA’s institute in 2008.
The foundation’s decision to make the latest gift was based in large part on UCLA Extension’s excellence in programming; its success in raising funds from other sources for the program; its new 28,000 square-foot Gayley Center in Westwood Village, which opened in January 2015 and houses the Osher institute’s administrative offices and classrooms; and for increasing the institute’s membership, which now numbers 1,150.
The donation is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.
“The community loves our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and we are thrilled to receive this gift for the program,” said Evan McGinnis, the institute’s program manager. “Thanks to the generosity and support of the Bernard Osher Foundation, UCLA Extension now has a stronger financial base for current and future Osher programming.”
Funds from the gift bolster an endowment created by the 2008 gift and will be used to keep course fees low and increase course offerings, McGinnis said.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has more than 60 instructors who develop and teach courses. Winter 2016 courses include “Four Master Short-Story Writers from India,” “Beyond the Beatles” and “Campaign 2016: Politics and History.” The institute also offers discussion groups and peer-led interest groups.
“We are extremely gratified to receive this gift,” said Wayne Smutz, dean of UCLA Extension. “It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, and also to the commitment of our learners. Their unflagging passion for learning makes the Osher institute a truly inspiring program.”