December 1, 2023

OLLI at SOU seeks instructors for adult learning program

OLLI instructor Susan Stitham teaching Shakespeare 101: This Star of England—Henry V. Bill Bartlett photo
May 25, 2022

Proposals for fall classes due by Tuesday, May 31

By Anne Bellegia

Course proposals from prospective instructors for the fall 2022 term at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Southern Oregon University are due by Tuesday, May 31. Community members are invited to join its volunteer faculty teaching courses they develop for the fall term. Those with knowledge and skills to share will find a receptive audience at OLLI.

Founded in 1993, OLLI now offers its over 1,400 members, generally aged 50-plus, between 85-100 courses in each of three academic terms. OLLI courses consist of between two to 10 weekly class sessions that range in length from 60 to 120 minutes. Classes can start and stop at any time during the term. OLLI instructors do not need to be OLLI members, hold a particular degree, or have prior teaching experience. There are no tests or papers to grade. Instruction can take place in a physical classroom on OLLI’s Ashland or Medford campuses or via Zoom. 

The fall term runs Sept. 12 through Nov. 18. Classes can be held during a portion or all of the term.

“What those new to teaching at OLLI need to know is that they will be well-supported, both in the development of a course proposal and in delivery of their course either in-person or online,” said Anne Coleman, co-chair of OLLI’s Curriculum Committee. “We are committed to making this experience rewarding for both the instructor and the students.”

Instructors have a unique opportunity to explore or refresh their knowledge of their chosen subject matter. 

OLLI instructor Irv Lubliner teaches his Blue Harmonica class. Tom Anderson photo

“I’m a cell biologist who had a research lab and taught at the university level,” said John Kloetzel. “But gene editing was in its infancy during my working years. It required a deep dive into this growing field to understand it well enough to explain its basic premises and current applications to those whose knowledge of this topic ranged from nil to possibly more advanced than my own.”

The ever-changing curriculum is central to the OLLI experience. OLLI encourages a variety of subjects in the arts, history, language and culture, nature, personal development, recreation, science and technology and social sciences. 

An alternative to teaching on a particular subject is to facilitate class sessions featuring invited presenters or to lead discussions of books or films. 

 “OLLI’s partnership with the Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) has provided especially rich discussions,” said Lorraine Vail. “Two fellow OLLI instructors and I work in concert with the AIFF staff to select films that students watch on their own, then meet in class to share their reactions and insights. It’s been one of the most meaningful parts of my OLLI experience to see how deeply some of the themes touch class members.”

While OLLI instructors are not paid, other than in the form of discounts on OLLI membership, the contribution of their time keeps OLLI membership fees affordable. 

OLLI instructor Ruddy Havill teaching Watercolor Painting for Beginners/Intermediates. Pauline Black photo

 “Part of my motivation for teaching at OLLI is to extend music appreciation through the courses I offer,” said Peggy Evans, emerita SOU music faculty, “but if members had to pay for each course, they’d probably limit the number they sign up for. A volunteer faculty means that members can take as many courses as they can schedule for the $150 annual membership fee.”

To see examples of OLLI course offerings, visit the “Catalog” link at

For more information on becoming an OLLI faculty member, visit the “Teaching at OLLI” link at or call 541-552-6048.

Longtime Ashland resident Anne Bellegia is active in the community, including at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), where she wrote this article for the Community Journalism Class recently taught by board member Paul Steinle and Executive Editor Bert Etling.

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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