Letter from the Director

BY CHRIS ELLIOTT

OLLI Director Chris Elliott

This is the time of year when everyone likes to take a moment to reflect on the year that has just ended. Looking back, I have gone over many of the milestones we accomplished in 2015 – our membership grew to nearly 900, and we enrolled more than 3,000 members in 111 courses – but I’d like to consider some of the moments that made 2015 great.

We started the year with a Mornings with the Professor session featuring Dan Boren. Naturally, President Boren attended. He sat through the morning with a huge smile on his face. He was just there to support his son, and you could tell how proud he was. He was enjoying the moment simply watching his son.

Later in the spring, we had another Mornings with the Professorsession, in which Rhonda Harris-Taylor and Nancy Bluemel (we call them the library ladies) spoke to the OLLI members about pop-up books in a digital age. As is their modus operandi, the ladies brought a lot of books (pop-ups in this case) and had them spread out over several tables in the room. At the end of the session, I was there to help them pack up and noticed one of our OLLI members really looking hard at one of the books. She was completely immersed in the book because (as I later found out) she had owned this book as a child. It had been many years – decades even – since she had seen the book, but at that moment, she was completely captivated by it. I think a tornado could have come through the room, and she would not have noticed. She was just enjoying the moment.

One of my other favorite moments came during the last session of Pioneer Food History, where the OLLI members got to cook in Dutch ovens. The class had spent a few weeks looking at recipes and deciding what to cook. The last day came, and everyone did their part. The ovens were fired up, and the class broke into groups to put the recipes together. Elizabeth and I were there to help out, which the class didn’t need much of. What we both noticed, though, was how great everyone worked together to make these recipes. If you’ve never cooked in a Dutch oven, it requires a lot of prep work. No one in the class complained, and at the end of the session, the class fell silent because they were just enjoying the food and being around each other.

I think these moments are what make the OLLI program special. Sometimes, we as a staff are so busy putting all of the classes together we forget about these isolated moments. But as members, it’s these moments that keep you coming back to campus. And we are happy to have shared a few of them with you in 2015.

I can’t wait to see what moments occur in 2016.

Chris Elliott Signature