Here are the contents of the blog from its creation until the time of the vote approving of the Osher proposal (August 28 to October 18, 2009).

Osher Grant Application

The big issue facing us this summer is whether to apply for a grant from the Osher Foundation. Here's how it would work.

The Osher Foundation would give UCSC a grant of $50,000 for our benefit in each of two years. In return, we would become an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and undertake to increase our membership to at least 500 dues paying members. If we succeed in that goal, Osher would grant an endowment of $1 million to UCSC for our benefit, the yearly income from which would be about $40,000, which would be available to pay our expenses.

Obviously, this would be a big step for us. Our Board of Directors will consider this proposal carefully during the summer, and if it decides to proceed, will present it to the membership at the September meeting. Then there will be a vote of the membership at the October meeting deciding whether or not to apply for the grant.

Members of UCSC Lifelong Learners are invited to post their comments and questions. The two paragraphs atop this page explain how to do that via e-mail.


Friday, August 28, 2009

LLL Board recommends approving Osher application

At its meeting on August 28th the Lifelong Learners Board of Directors decided unanimously to recommend approval of the Osher application to the membership.

The proposal will be discussed at our September general meeting at UCSC's Stevenson College Event Center on September 13th from 10 am to noon. Please plan to attend. The vote on the proposal will be held at the general meeting on October 18th.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Suggestions by Judy Wollowitz

Our organization is large and in all probability it will continue to grow whether or not we go with Osher.. The question is whether we can continue, and improve, the informal atmosphere and help our members to make friendly contacts with each other. I propose that we form a committee, as soon as possible, which will suggest ways for this to happen and all members can contribute their ideas to the committee.

To start the ball rolling I want to suggest a few ideas of my own.

1) The geographic distances from Boulder Creek to La Selva (and hopefully Watsonville) are very discouraging at times. We should divide the County into three, or even four, segments and plan a picnic, potluck, or other social occasion for each geographic area. This should encourage ride sharing to meetings and events and personal contacts.
2) At our general meetings we should experiment with different kinds of seating plans. For example: we could put signs on two or three, tables for members of all reading interest groups; perhaps have the walking group (some are probably old hikers), the hiking group, and the adventuring group sit together; seat opera, film, play reading near each other. I am sure that we can think of other combinations to try. This should encourage contact between people with similar interests and possibly encourage additional interest groups.
3) Have an ongoing class in teaching basic computer skills and coping with idiosyncracies of computers.
4) Have a couple of classes for language beginners (Spanish?, German?, Danish?) which evolve into conversation groups for building language skills. I know that there are members who taught languages or are very proficient in a language.
5) Learn the name of members, particularly new members, who are not in any interest group and assign someone on the membership committee to contact them to find out if they have questions about the program.

People helping each other creates an exchange of information and support. I am sure that there are more, and better, ideas but we need to start trying some of them.

Judy Wollowitz

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Question: I've been following some of the discussion about becoming an Osher LLL organization. I'm sure you know that UCSC had an Osher organization over the hill that I believe UCSC shut down. I don't know all the details but I'm wondering why they would now support ours when they didn't support the last one especially if it supposed to be self-sustaining.

Susan Hillyard

Answer: We are very different than what was being done over the hill. That was a classical extension service sort of thing. UCSC was paying teachers, and I guess enrollments were disappointing. And perhaps having an extension service in San Jose, where UCSC is not, just wasn't working out for them. Anyway, they pulled the plug on the extension service, and that left the Osher Institute hanging.

The premise of supporting us is precisely the opposite. It allows us to pay for the UCSC staff time that we now absorb, and leaves us in a self-sufficient position. The operation over the hill was not self-sufficient. Perhaps if it had garnered enough enrollment, it might have been.

I know that some are tempted to stay the way we are and just go along in our own way, but I believe that is not possible. The University has been cutting back everywhere, and particularly cutting back non-core services that are costing it money and staff time. If (I really think it is when) they ask us to pay for the staff services we receive we will be forced to increase our membership fees substantially. I'm guessing to $60 for individuals and to $100 for couples. In other words, double our existing membership fees. It could be more. I suppose it could be less.

Osher funding would enable us to avoid that *and* have money to spare for other things. A win for us; and a win for the University because we would pay for the staff time that STARS and University Relations expends on us.

Robert Franson

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It’s nice to see that both the pro Osher and con Osher have as their objective the preservation of UCSC Lifelong Learners as we currently enjoy it. Those of us in favor of becoming Osher LL Institute believe the only way to keep what we have, continue providing scholarships, and enjoying all that our association with UCSC provides, is by going for the Osher endowment. Those against, believe that the means of achieving the endowment – growing to 500 members – will destroy the social aspects of LLL we currently enjoy.

I have heard that one of the issues LLL struggled with the first year that I was a member was whether Dining Out was a suitable LLL group because it was viewed to be purely social, not also educational.

I also recall that a few years ago, one of the big issues was whether we should grow to more than 200 members. The board decided then to slow our growth by discontinuing the publishing and distributing of the LLL brochure.

I agree that for us to focus primarily on marketing LLL could change LLL. But I don’t believe we would have to; a brochure and press releases about our general meeting speaker would do a lot to get the word out to more potential members, in addition to the current marketing by word of mouth. And keeping our current focus on expanding our offerings of Interest Groups, Short Series, Workshops, and Courses to make sure we have enough small group activities to offer our members, whether we number 350 or 500, will help us retain those who do join.

Can we really take over the many functions the University now provides, such as maintaining the data base and providing meeting spaces, or expect the University to keep providing them at no or reduced cost when we are unwilling to contribute to their financial security with the Osher Endowment?

Craig and Dusty Miller

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I have some concerns with “The Argument Against”, which are related to projections about what becoming an Osher Institute may mean for us.

The first relates to the fear that we would become more like any other impersonal university extension, following the usual pattern of providing lists of courses. On the contrary, the Osher Foundation has been very impressed by the uniqueness of our version of Lifelong Learning – self-directed, participatory learning, not university-managed courses. In all its 120 institutes, as far as we can tell, only a very few operate in a manner somewhat similar to ours. Tufts University is one (they have peer-led study groups), and their staff has told us that Osher has supported them for years and does not micromanage what they do. On the contrary, the Institute approves of Tufts’ ingenuity and differences, and Osher has said they like our program and the way we are managing it as well.

A second issue involves the idea that, by raising our dues, re-entry students could be hired to provide the necessary office support instead of relying on University staff. This is a very appealing idea, given students’ need for far more money than we are now providing through scholarships. Unfortunately, much of the support we have been given by the University is more technical than it appears on the surface, including insurance and legal issues. There would also be more work to be done with a paid staff — all the relevant details regarding timesheets, payroll deductions, etc. — in addition to the difficulties that can plague any office which relies mainly on short-term hires.

In short, Osher has said they would be happy to let us continue our path and give us money to do so; they simply want more people to benefit from our programs. With almost all University programs hurting for money, for a philanthropic foundation to give us a $1,000.000 endowment with only a few minor stipulations (like acknowledging their gift in our name), it sounds like a good deal to me. And the timing couldn't be better!

Mary Hanlan

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Denying the University the chance to receive a $1 million endowment would be selfish and self-centered, especially at this time of desperation. Moreover, without joining Osher, LLL would forgo a potential $150,000 grant over three years. This money would cover our costs and free us to provide many more scholarships.
We have had the support of STARS for 25 years. Are we now, in their time of greatest need, to desert them?
“Con” Statement
Steve's Reply
“The organization is primarily social and growing to a size of 500 would inhibit that.”
“...look at what the original bylaws say about the educational purposes of the organization:
To engage in social, cultural and educational activities of interest to the members.
“...there was clearly an emphasis on fostering social activity, which may get lost in the potential hustle and bustle of a transformed Lifelong Learners.”
What dynamic is envisioned to diminish our social opportunities? What transformation is anticipated? Our numbers have already been increasing steadily year over year, and the organization has continued its successes and increased its scholarships. As we are, we are likely to grow to the 500 number, if not in two years, then in a few more.
LLL will continue to be governed by its members as before. There will be no change except as desired by the members. Osher will not have input into our governance.
We are not giving up any control of our organization. We are changing our name. We are not removing the italicized quote (see left column) from the bylaws. We are simply adding to it this statement of purpose: “To offer members noncredit educational opportunities designed for mature adults.” What we are doing now satisfies Osher on this count as they have expressed approval of how we run LLL now.
We will continue to run it as we have in the past with a board of directors elected by the membership at large.
This is not a takeover. The BOD, all approve of whom the Osher proposal, are people you know and socialize with: Mark Gordon; Dusty Miller; Kathy Cairns; Florence Orenstein; Inga Hoffman; Audie Henry; Mary Hanlan; Lois Widom; Corinne Miller; Nancy Mead; Patty Stumpf; David Copp; Chris Le Maistre; Irene Lennox; Alverda Orlando, yours truly. With the interest group leaders, these are the people who, along with those who’ve done the same in the past, make LLL what it is.
“Thus there is clearly a danger that most of our energies and efforts for the next 2 years will be focused on marketing, at the expense of the activities we traditionally enjoy and support.”
We have volunteers who will help to make our organization known to the growing population of retirees (and others) in our area. No money contributed to UCSC by members will be used for marketing. Group leaders will continue to lead as they choose. We have already expanded our interest groups this year and would love to attract new blood to establish and/or lead groups. Groups are now open to all with a single contribution, so you can pick and choose what you like.
The efforts to expand will have minor impact, if any, on the members at large.
“We could get the necessary office functions done through offering paid hourly work to re-entry students....”
Who would hire and pay the students and do any bookkeeping needed? LLL does not exist independently of the University. We do not have our own accounts. All our financial activity is supported by STARS. Here's what STARS and the University do for us. They...
  • Make the Event Center available for our monthly meetings at a reduced rate,
  • Provide gratis lecture hall 150 for our monthly talks,
  • Provide volunteer UCSC faculty and staff to speak to us monthly,
  • Provide volunteer UCSC professors to teach our courses,
  • Invite our members to University social events,
  • Answer inquiries from members and prospective members,
  • Send out information packages,
  • Receive mail and processes membership applications,
  • Maintain membership database and records,
  • Prepare mailing labels,
  • Attend all general meetings, prepares meeting rooms for guest lecturers, provides support to ensure that general meetings run smoothly,
  • Negotiate for space, room reservations, and room contracts,
  • Order food and media services,
  • Manage accounts, reconciles ledgers and petty cash account,
  • Initiate and approves invoices, honoraria payments, catering arrangements, and purchase orders,
  • Negotiate insurance coverage
  • Create book award flyers and coordinates book awards; mails book awards,
  • Provide mailing services,
  • Produce annual reports.
Clearly, the help we get from Corinne, Amy, and Kira can not be picked up by student help. The suggestion betrays a lack of familiarity with their professionalism and dedication to LLL. Corinne has been at the center of LLL since its creation 25 years ago. No student temps can fill in for the STARS staff.
Do We Really Want a Catalog?”
Nothing is forcing us to issue catalogs. It is just one idea, among many, that was suggested. The idea has never been considered by the Board of directors.
“ increase of dues.”
Indeed. Unless we give up scholarships, we'd probably have to at least double the dues. If we do give up scholarships, what interest does the University have in giving us meeting space? Lecturers? Professors to teach courses?

— Steve Zaslaw

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our experience in Lifelong Learners: We've been LLL members for about three years, and very active for the past two years. Lou was an officer of the LLL Board (serving as Treasurer) for the past two years. Joan leads an interest group (Literature Discussion) that meets every other week - about 22 times a year. We've been members of four interest groups: Adventuring, Art & Architecture, Film, Exploring UCSC, and Literature Discussion, and have attended several others.

How we feel about LLL becoming affiliated with Osher: We've had the opportunity to learn a lot about the Osher opportunity (Lou was on the Board during the period that most of its discussions took place). We think Osher affiliation is a great way to contribute to the university while preserving our unique identity. Our fear is not Osher, but what could easily happen to LLL if we don't affiliate with Osher. When Lou was Treasurer, he was constantly aware of how much support UCSC provides to us, and how quickly we might lose our ability to award scholarships if we turn down this offer, because if and when the university decreases its support of LLL, increasing amounts of our revenues from dues and fees would be needed for administrative tasks, space rental, meetings and communications.

We can ensure that Osher affiliation would not destroy LLL friendliness and sociability. If we have a positive attitude toward change - any change can be difficult for seniors! - and find ways to work with it and not against it, we can be a more sociable group, not less. (Judy Wollowitz makes some good suggestions on this blog for ways to use change for the betterment of LLL. And just think what a small amount of outreach by all of us at our Sunday morning meetings could achieve!)

If each of us encourages one friend to join LLL, we'd double our membership - virtually effortlessly! To this end, LLL might hold an annual Bring-A-Friend Party. Most of us know at least one person who'd greatly enjoy LLL activities. We'd be doing ourselves a favor (meeting our quota of 500 members in two years) and doing our friend a favor. Wouldn't it be great to have more LLL friends who share our interests and zest for life? If we approach growing our membership with a positive attitude, we'll find that new members re-vitalize us, just as a tide-pool stays alive by continual replenishment from the ocean.

Given the economic situation of the university, we must acknowledge that change is going to happen whether we join Osher or not. Our challenge is to embrace change as a positive force. If we do, we can keep Lifelong Learners vital for years to come.

Joan and Lou Rose

Friday, October 2, 2009

I've been enjoying the conversation within the organization and on this Blog about our possible decision to affiliate with Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. The concerns I have heard seem like the right ones. They come from members' loving LLL as it has evolved to this very day. We want to keep the special quality of our organization, and rightly worry about any organizational or affiliation shifts that could damage what we have.

What are that qualities we all cherish in LLL? I think it is the warmth we feel for each other. How it makes us so happy to meet in our interest groups and in courses, in our meetings and our social gatherings. It's how we all love new ideas and insights about things we care about. It's valuing our long time commitment to supporting reentry students who are moving mountains to return to school. It's
all the new friends and old ones who share this experience with us.
And especially it's an appreciation for all the people, interest group leaders, board members and all the rest of us who step up in many ways to give LLL its vitality.

I have racked my brain over these months to think of how the Osher proposal could harm us. I, frankly, did not like that the trigger for receiving an Osher Foundation endowment was that we needed 500 dues paying members. Yet since I've been in LLL, about 6 years, the organization has grown a lot. We will continue to grow simply because of who we are and what we do. So I really believe we would get close to that 500 threshold with little effort just by our own natural processes.

What Osher does is offer us the opportunity to think clearly about our needs as a larger organization. How can we maintain the same sense of community and warmth while needing more space, for example? How with a larger organization can we keep our fees low, and still offer scholarships to reentry students? Many other organizations like ours have much steeper fees. I'd hate for us to raise our fees, and Osher offers us a way to avoid it.

Change is hard at any time in life. But this is in the most profound ways a change in name only. We will still be an all volunteer organization that offers social and intellectual opportunities in relationship with a fine university. We will do things just as we've always done them, through the initiative, energy and ideas of some of the brightest and most interesting people I know: the members of UCSC Lifelong Learners.

Because we all care so much, I'm hoping that every Lifelong Learners member will vote on the by-laws changes proposed by the board. Please use the proxy ballot if you are unable to attend the meeting on Oct 18.

Mark Gordon

Saturday, October 3, 2009

As a member of the Board and a former Membership Chairman, I fully support our change to Osher. Robert, Steve, Lou and Joan Rose, Mary Hanlan and others have thought this out and written so well on the subject, I cannot say more!

Audie Henry

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The marketing strategy should be simple. Most of us know one or more people with similar interests who's a good candidate for LLL. As someone probably did with each of us, all members should be encouraged to "talk up" LLL to prospects and bring them along to a general meeting, or an interest group, or a course, or ... so they'll get a taste of it. That should include personal recruitment for the current Cabrillo LLL members.

That's it. Word-of-mouth is by far the most effective way to gain new users: hugely better (20-100X better) than anything else, like advertising or pr or potlucks. It insures that the new people will tend to fit right in. And of course, as these newbies start to fit in, we should then encourage them to bring in others.

Jan Jaffe
40-yr. marketing strategist

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We learned at the Q&A session at the September meeting that Cabrillo Lifelong Learners is closing. Several people have asked if we could find out why. As a result of inquiries, we have learned that there are two factors. First, among their most popular activities were bus trips to various cultural events around the Bay area. Over the past two or three years the costs of such activities have risen. Their last bus trip will be to "South Pacific" in San Francisco, and that will cost members $100 for bus and show tickets. As a result membership has dropped from 250 members to about 150. The second factor relates to staff cuts at Cabrillo. Cabrillo staff had been doing all of Cabrillo LLL's administrative and staff functions, for example, newsletters, mailing, etc. Because of staff cuts, Cabrillo couldn't provide those services any longer, and Cabrillo LLL couldn't find another way to get these things done. So they have decided to call it quits at the end of this year. Their departure will be a loss to the community.

Robert Franson

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As a newcomer (2nd year in LLL) I have a different view of the possible impact of Osher on the social environment of LLL. I question the assumption that enlarging the group will make it more impersonal.

The folks who have been in the organization for a long time already know everybody, but newcomers do not. We will probably make the same number of new LLL friends during the next year whether or not the organization expands. The difference is that it will be a bigger pool of people with more chances of catching a spark.

— David Copp