The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Oregon is part of a network of over 120 programs designed to engage adults in the continued pursuit of knowledge. 

What is OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)?

OLLI was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher to “improve quality of life through support for higher education & the arts.” There are Osher Institutes connected to 124 higher learning institutes from Main to Hawaii & Alaska. 

As a whole, the institutes are considered a “national learning network” for those age 50 and over. 

OLLI in Eugene-Springfield

The OLLI-UO Eugene-Springfield branch was founded in 1993 and is in its 28th year. Prior to becoming an OLLI branch, OLLI-UO was the Learning and Retirement program at the UO. Today, OLLI-UO has three sites where it hosts programs. These are at the Baker Center in Eugene, in Central Oregon, and in NW Oregon.

OLLI holds an assortment of education opportunities, from classes to field trips to interest groups. The courses, while non-credit, are taught by experts in their field and praised by those who enroll. 

Additionally, those who are members of OLLI are technically students of the University of Oregon. OLLI programs are co-managed by a governing council within OLLI and a small number of UO professional staff.

In 2019, OLLI served 823 members throughout Oregon. Most members are retired, but there are some members who are still working. The most common age demographic is those in their 60s.

OLLI Connections

OLLI-UO collaborates in a wide variety of ways with local organizations. These organizations include

  • AARP and SPIN
  • Oregon Humanities Department
  • Osher National Network
  • Senior Residencies
  • University of Oregon Faculty and Students

What Programs Does OLLI-UO Offer?

There is quite a variety of programs and topics that Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers. 


There are one-off lectures with guest speakers. Some recent lectures include the Nature of the U.S. Constitution and French Impressionism.


Courses focus on a single subject over multiple sessions. Recent courses have included the History of Eastern Europe and an Anthropology course on Man’s Development. 

Study and Discussion Groups

These are volunteer-driven, where participants talk about a subject of common interest. Some examples are the Spanish and French Language Groups and the Play Reading Group. 

Field Trips

Members have gone on field trips to the University of Oregon Observatory in Central Oregon, the Municipal Water Treatment Facility, and the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

Shared Interest Groups

Some shared interest groups include Dining with Friends, Writing for Memoir and Autobiography, Pickleball, and Shinrin-yoku.

Surviving the Pandemic

During the past year, OLLI used Zoom for all of its programs. Currently, they are developing hybrid programs for some people to be in-person while others can participate via Zoom. 

Learn More

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides a fantastic selection of programs for members to get involved in. For more information on how to become a member and to view OLLI’s current classes, visit their website.

To learn about additional opportunities to volunteer and get involved in our community, view our other blogs.