Fulfill Your Love of Lifelong Learning

Staff and faculty are invited to join the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for access to in-person and virtual courses

OLLI members pose at the Nasher Museum of Art
OLLI member Kate Szerszen watches Alan Teasley’s online class about Stephen Sondheim in 2020. Photo courtesy of Dennis Szerszen.

Since the pandemic has eased, OLLI, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, has reintroduced in-person courses but has kept virtual offerings that had not been offered before COVID-19.

Several of OLLI’s most popular sessions are recorded and can be accessed within 48 hours of the course session. These sessions include “Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man and His Architecture;” “Current Economic Policy Issues;” and “North Carolina Folk Music: A History.”  

Virtual courses have allowed instructors such as Jon Seskevich, a retired registered nurse who lives in California but helped create Duke Hospital's Stress Management Consult Team, stay in touch with campus.

“Teaching reconnects me with Duke, both the people who I worked with at Duke and patients,” said Seskevich, who worked at Duke for 31 years. “Some people I met through my nursing career have taken my online classes and we stay in touch this way.”

Betsy Dessauer, project coordinator for the Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity in the Department of Political Science, is both a teacher and a student at OLLI. While teaching classes on Koru mindfulness and meditation, she has taken an art class and a course about “Yoga Nidra,” a systematic approach to relaxation at OLLI and notes that taking courses has helped her to explore new interests. 

“People may think that OLLI is predominantly for those who have reached retirement,” Dessauer said. “Yet as someone who is far from retiring, I encourage anyone who may think this way to revisit their assumption and explore OLLI’s class offerings. There is something there for everyone.”

Ruth Caccavale, a museum gallery guide manager at the Nasher Museum of Art, has taken and taught OLLI courses.

This May, Caccavale, as part of the “Charlotte Culture Tour ” course, will co-lead participants on a trip to see art museums in Charlotte, which includes private tours of The Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the McColl Center. Caccavale and fellow instructor Suzanne Fetscher have also arranged a walking tour of public art and contemporary architecture in the city.

“The thing I like about teaching OLLI students is they’re very interested and engaged,” said Caccavale, who was an adjunct art professor at Rutgers University before she came to Duke. “They come to class with experiences and opinions, and a lot of curiosity. They’re sort of a dream group as an educator.”

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