Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

Here, members can discuss what they learned, what they enjoyed, and offer suggestions to enhance future program offerings.

Take a look at the photos we're taking, and the discussions we're having as OLLI members.

Whether we're in class, in town, or out of town ... we're on the go, having fun, and constantly learning.


We look forward to reading your comments!

While you're online, be sure to visit our website www.bradley.edu/continue/olli to register for our programs.

Don't forget -- OLLI has its own YouTube Channel, where you can see video clips of Learning Trips, Classes, and Study Groups!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Behr Iron & Metal - March 26, 2014

OLLI members took a learning trip to Behr Iron & Metal on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Behr Iron & Metal is one of the top 16 ferrous and non-ferrous scrap processors in the United States, with locations in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Each year, Behr, which is based in Rockford, Illinois processes more than 700,000 tons of material, including iron, steel, aluminum, brass, bronze, copper and thousands of other types of materials. Behr also processes automobiles, appliances, household items and many other items that are only part metal.

Members learned all about the scrapping process and saw Behr’s $12 million monster shredder, a 300-foot long, five-story tall machine that can shred a car in two seconds. Members also learned about Behr’s recent $15 million expansion and found out why scrap has turned into big business. George Calfas,Commercial Vice President of Behr Iron & Metal in Peoria, discussed with members about the global demand for iron, steel, copper, and brass.

OLLI would like to thank Behr Iron & Metal for an amazing tour of their Peoria facility.

To learn more about Behr Iron & Metal please, click here.

Courtyard Estates - March 25, 2014

OLLI visited Courtyard Estates of Peoria, located atop Western Avenue hill, site of the old Jumers Castle Lodge and Radisson Hotel.

Courtyard Estates is now a living option for seniors 65 years or older who are in need of some assistance with their daily living. It has 100 spacious apartments, dining and lounge areas, a recreation room, a mini theater and more.

During our tour, we learned how the facility opened in 2011 after a $6 million renovation and now serves as a vital bridge of independence between living alone and nursing home care.

Our guide, Ashley Steward, showed us the various apartment layouts and answered questions about the facility. OLLI members enjoyed the famous "Jumers sweet rolls" and had time at the end of the tour to relax to live piano music.

OLLI thanks Ashley Steward and the staff at Courtyard Estates for allowing us to be their guests.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Toraason Glass Studio - March 24, 2014

OLLI visited Toraason Glass Studio in Peoria on Monday, March 24, 2014. Owner Hiram Toraason gave OLLI a tour of his gallery, as well as a glass blowing demonstration using glass cane. Toraason explained cane is a cylinder of glass that had been heated and pulled like taffy then cooled to be used at a later time. He used the cane to show a different way to make glass art. Toraason also explained that using cane allows him to create a basket weave pattern in the glass, which is a great way to add dimension to his piece of artwork.

Toraason discussed the origins of glass blowing and where he learned the art. He explained the difference between the types of mixtures that can be used for glass blowing. Toraason went into further discussion about why he chooses the mixtures that he uses and how they are safe for everyone in the studio.

OLLI thanks Hiram Toraason for another amazing tour of his studio.

Friday, March 21, 2014

OLLI 20th Anniversary Celebration, March 19, 2014

Bradley University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute celebrated 20 years of service to the community with a banquet highlighting the efforts of OLLI members, volunteers, and Bradley staff.

Current Past President of OLLI, Gil Nolde, welcomed everyone to the event. Nolde proudly announced the fundraising goal was already surpassed for fiscal year 2014. He also had the honor of introducing Bradley University President Joanne Glasser.

President Glasser welcomed the group to Bradley, joking that OLLI members were her best behaved students on campus. She then had the distinct pleasure of making a surprise announcement that The Bernard Osher Foundation had notified her that a second $1 million endowment had been awarded.

“It’s something to be proud of, to look back and reminisce about wonderful memories and things to look forward to,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser. “I believe Bradley’s OLLI program is one of the best in the country, as evidenced by the $1 million endowment. It’s a testament here today because of the dedication, commitment and passion by you. It’s your program and the Hilltop is your home.”

Bradley President Joanne Glasser also commended OLLI for two decades of service to the community.

Carolyn Shepherd, Past President of OLLI, 2011-12, introduced Janet Lange, Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development, who envisioned the adult education concept while working on her master’s degree in the early 1990s.

Janet Lange, keynote speaker for the event, gave a brief history of the organization (originally named the Institute for Learning in Retirement), launched in 1994 with the help of $10,000 in start-up funds. The inaugural year brought 84 people to 20 classes. This year, OLLI reached more than 400 people through 59 classes. OLLI has topped 1,000 members for two consecutive years, with 1,028 members currently participating in classes, study groups, learning trips, cinema and lectures.

The Institute for Learning in Retirement accepted a 2008 invitation to affiliate with San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation and changed its name to today’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The foundation supports a range of education and integrative medicine programs, including 117 adult education programs like Bradley.

Following program expansion with two $100,000 grants from the Osher Foundation, OLLI received a $1 million endowment in 2010. That funding, in addition to successful fundraisers, enabled OLLI to expand its offerings to special events, lectures and cinema.

Lange credited OLLI members for their interest and efforts to build the program. Mary Buesing, the most senior OLLI Past President, 1995-96, was asked to stand and be recognized as one of the earliest members who helped to develop Bradley’s own unique OLLI program.

“You the members are the heart and soul of the organization,” Lange said. “It’s your organization. It’s a true community of learners and you’re a part of that community.”

“So much has happened the past 20 years and it’s important to stop and celebrate,” Lange said.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Peoria County Jail - March 14, 2014

OLLI visited the Peoria County Jail on Friday, March 14, 2014. Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy gave OLLI a private behind-the-scenes tour of the jail. Sheriff McCoy took members to the interactive indoor shooting range located at the facility for the department. Members had the option to test their aim while at the interactive range. OLLI learned about the daily operations of the jail and the challenges faced by the department.

OLLI would like to thank Sheriff McCoy and his team for an amazing tour.

To learn more about the Peoria County Jail please visit their website.

National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research - March, 13, 2014

OLLI members had the opportunity to tour the USDA National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research, USDA NCAUR for short, on Thursday, March 13, 2014. During this behind-the-scenes tour, members had the rare opportunity to look at some of the laboratories located at the facility. During the tour, members learned that the laboratory is home to around 100 Ph.D. research scientists who invent industrial and food products and develop technologies to improve environmental quality. Members spoke with four professionals who are conducting groundbreaking research.

OLLI would like to thank USDA NCAUR for the amazing rare behind-the-scenes tour.

To learn more about the USDA NCAUR please visit their website.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette - March 11, 2014

OLLI visited the recently renovated Marriott Pere Marquette on Tuesday, March 11. In 2011, the Peoria City Council approved an agreement with developer Gary Matthews to temporarily close the Pere Marquette Hotel for an extensive renovation and expansion into a full-service, upscale Marriott hotel.

Mackenzie Camp, an alum of Bradley University, was our tour guide. The hotel has over 18,000 square feet of meeting space, and Camp led us through the various rooms allowing us to compare the different set-ups and admire the beautiful artwork. OLLI members had a chance to visit one of the guest rooms, the bridal suite and even had an opportunity to check out the Presidential suite. This two-bedroom , two and one half bath guest room was enormous, with sweeping views of the downtown riverfront area. A plaque on the wall listed some of the famous guests who have had the pleasure of spending a night in the suite. Camp, entertained OLLI members with stories and rumors about the hotel, including the supposed female ghost whose presence is sometimes noted in the Presidential Suite. She also showed us the secret cabinet, which the guests in the Presidential Suite used for hiding liquor during the Prohibition.

After our tour, the group enjoyed a delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant Table 19. OLLI would like to thank Mackenzie Camp and the staff at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette for allowing us to be their special guests for the day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

J.K. Williams Distilling - March 10, 2014

OLLI members took a learning trip to J.K. WIlliams Distilling in East Peoria on Monday, March 10, 2014. The tour was lead by Jon Williams, President of J.K. Williams. Williams discussed the history of his ancestors after whom the distillery is named. Williams also explained how he worked with the historical society to work on the photographic display.

OLLI members learned how J.K. Williams crafted quality bootleg whisky during his time. Four generations later, Williams and his family decided to revive the family recipe.

Williams took members through the barrel room where the whisky and bourbon are stored, and guided us through the distilling process as well.

OLLI would like to thank Jon Williams and J.K. Williams Distilling for such an amazing tour!

To learn more about J.K. Williams Distilling please check out their website.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Peoria Civic Center- March 7, 2014

OLLI took a learning trip to the Peoria Civic Center on March 7, 2014. Megan Pedigo, Assistant Director of Marketing for the Peoria Civic Center, and Eric Yarbrough, Technical Coordinator, lead the tour through the facility including the Great Hall, Ballroom, Lexus Club, Arena, Theater, and Exhibit Hall.

Pedigo and Yarbrough explained the types of events held at the facility, how logistics are managed and marketed, and how operations occur during and event.

While walking through the arena, we were able to watch the Peoria Rivermen practice on the ice rink. We also learned about productions held in the theatre and how each shoe has different set-up requirements.

OLLI would like to thank Megan Pedigo, Eric Yarbrough, and the Peoria Civic Center for an amazing tour.

To learn more about the Peoria Civic Center, click here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Homeway Homes- March 4, 2014

OLLI took a learning trip to Homeway Homes on March 4, 2014. President Brian Schieler, was OLLI's private guide during the factory tour. Schieler discussed the company’s modern home design and construction processes. OLLI learned about Energy Strength, a ground-breaking insulation system that not only seals the home for energy conservation purposes, but also strengthens it from a structural standpoint.

Schieler also talked about the involvement of his siblings and the history of their family-owned company. OLLI also had the opportunity to tour the model home site and admire many different styles of floor plans.

OLLI would like to thank Brian Schieler and Homeway Homes for a fantastic tour.

To learn more about Homeway Homes, click here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Parsec Enterprises- March 3, 2014

OLLI took a learning trip to Parsec Enterprises on March 3, 2014. OLLI had a private tour with owner Marc Young, who gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the largest independent watch repair facility in the United States. Young began the tour with a comprehensive overview of the company and a little history of watch repair in general. Parsec has been servicing the world's largest watch manufacturers and retailers since 1977. Young also described their unique, self-developed, in-house database system, which tracks your timepiece from the time it is carefully unpacked, until it is re-packed and shipped out. OLLI had a first hand look at the many miniature parts used to service and repair more than 2 million watches worldwide.

This company is helping to develop many of the test procedures that have become standard practice for today’s service industry.

OLLI would like to thank Parsec Enterprises for such an amazing tour.

To learn more about Parsec Enterprises, click here.

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