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KU’s Osher Institute offers educational opportunities without homework, tests BY EMILY MULLIGAN


Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

JIM PETERS is the new director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Kansas University, 1515 St. Andrews Drive.

ansas University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers courses and special events to people over 50, has a new director and plans to increase its reach and financial base. Jim Peters became the institute’s director in January and is working on partnerships with community colleges and other organizations across the state of Kansas to broadcast and provide courses beyond northeast Kansas. The Osher Institute already offers courses to 800 students at 16 sites, including KU’s Continuing Education building, 1515 St. Andrews Drive in west Lawrence, and many retirement communities in Kansas City and Topeka, as well as sites in Hutchinson, Hesston and Ulysses. Peters, who became director after seven years in marketing and professional programs with KU’s Continuing Education, also wants to increase memberships and expand the Friends of Osher fundraising arm of the organization. The Osher Institute, established at KU in 2004, offers more than 40 courses in its spring catalog,

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ranging from arts to science to history. Many members are retired, but there are night classes for those still in the workforce. Most courses are taught by current and former KU faculty. “This is the most fun thing that Continuing Education does,” Peters said. “The audience comes for the pure joy of it — they’re not looking for credit or to advance their careers. There is no homework, no tests and no pressure.” Most courses consist of six hours of class time, broken down into three two-hour sessions. “It’s just long enough for people to drill down and learn something but not so long that they have to commit for a whole semester,” Peters said. Peters said that many people kept coming back for courses not only because of the educational opportunity, but also because they established friendships with classmates and instructors. “Many instructors have groupies,” he joked. Among some of the favorites: Paul Laird, KU professor of music, has established a following for his courses about Broadway musicals; Haskell Springer, retired KU English professor, teaches popular courses about poetry and literature; and Cynthia Haines, film critic and former associate

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Lawrence Journal-World 02-20-12  
Lawrence Journal-World 02-20-12  

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