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, September 25, 2014

Shamrock Plastics - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shamrock Plastics owner and president, Mary Cay Westphal, welcomed OLLI to their facility for a private behind-the-scenes tour. This thermoforming facility contains over 36,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space.

OLLI members divided into small groups, as long time staff members gave us an up close look at the thermoforming process. Each station we visited demonstrated a particular step, showing us how some of the parts are made at this facility. We learned what it takes to achieve a platinum supplier status for Caterpillar, which Shamrock Plastics was very honored to earn this past March 2014.

OLLI would like to thank Mary Cay and her very dedicated staff for such a wonderful and informative tour.

For more information you can check out the website at Shamrock Plastics.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Peoria Disposal Company and Peoria City/County Landfill - September 22, 2014

OLLI member Les Bergsten, Chairman of the Peoria City/County Landfill Committee, was our host for today’s tours.

We started with a visit to the offices of the Peoria Disposal Company. Chris Coulter, Vice-President of Peoria Disposal Company welcomed us to PDC. He gave an overview and history of this family-owned company. Bergsten talked about PDC and his role on the committee. In addition to traditional curbside waste and recyclable collection, PDC has resources to provide technical consulting, laboratory analysis, equipment rental, transportation, brokerage, hazardous waste disposal, and many other environmental services.

For the next stop, OLLI members boarded the shuttle and headed to the Peoria City/County landfill for the next part of the trip. During our tour, Bergsten discussed the history of the landfill, and gave us an update on the construction of Landfill #3. It was quite an adventure to drive through the landfill, watching and observing the huge machines performing their actual operations.

OLLI would like to give a big thanks to Chris Coulter and Les Bergsten for providing such insight into the operations of PDC and Waste Management.

Post Quatre from France

Our intrepid travelers, OLLI Francais, started the work week on Monday with a leisurely walk through the ancient Roman city of Arles.

Our local guide here is Austrian and speaks fluent English. The Mistral was blowing today, the strong, cold wind that travels from the northwest through the Rhone river valley. OLLI members found it invigorating after the past few warm days, but our guide explained that it blows an average of one-third of the year and makes some people anxious and out of sorts.

Our guide did a great job of refreshing our memories of Roman history while explaining the importance of the city since it was first settled around 800 B.C. The Romans took over the town in 123 B.C., gradually building a large city with Roman baths, a Forum, Circus forchariot races, Theater for cultural events, and an arena for games and fighting. Much of the arena remains and bull games and bull fighting now takes place there.

We had our photo taken on some of the remaining steps of the Roman Theater. After another memorable lunch, near the choppy Rhone river, we visited the Musee de l'Arles et de La Provence Antiques, where we saw a Roman boat that was recovered from the mud of the Rhone river in 2011 and put on display in 2013. Our guide shared the stories behind many more treasures in the Musee before leaving us until Tuesday, when we conclude our journey to see the "Three Faces of France."

Post Trois de France

Jet 'aime Aix-en-Provence! On Saturday OLLI Francais visited this southern, Provençal city of 140,000 and strolled through the many markets of flowers, vegetables, baked goods, jewelry, linens, ad more. The ladies were sad that there was no time for shopping, but most of the men were relieved. After another wonderful lunch of salmon and poached pears for dessert at L'Orangerie, we returned through the old city and toured the Cathedrale Saint-Saveur, another lovely and vert ancient church, but with a beautiful contemporary alter. We then traveled by bus to the studio of Paul Cezanne and learned more about the artist and his life and work. After dinner at a local restaurant in Arles, many of us stayed to watch a local parade that ran from 9-11 pm, and 8 of us took a whirl on the local merry-go-round.

OLLI Francais does not rest on Sunday! We left by coach to see a bird park where the beautiful pink flamingoes live and the Mediterranean Sea tourist town of Saintes Maries de la Mer, where finally some retail therapy took place. We then journeyed to a little known area of southern France, the Camargue, the delta region of the Rhone, where we saw a demonstration of how bulls are cut from the rest of the herd to be chosen for bull fighting and toured the ranch. On the way back we made a brief stop at the bridge that Van Gogh painted when he lived in Arles.

I hope you are enjoying these brief descriptions of our amazing journey and will forgive me my typos, as I am often writing on the fly. Au bientot, Janet

Peoria County Sheriff's Office - Friday, September 19

OLLI visited the Peoria County Jail on Friday, September 19. Peoria County Corrections Superintendent, Brian Asbell, gave OLLI members a private behind-the-scenes tour of the jail.

Participants had the opportunity to test their aim at the interactive indoor shooting range located at the facility. This is an important training operation for the department.

OLLI toured the lock-up portion of the jail, learned about the daily operations of the jail and the challenges faced by the department.

OLLI would like to thank Peoria County Sheriff's department and his team for an amazing tour.

To learn more about the Peoria County Jail please visit www.peoriacounty.org

Vaughan and Pella - September 18, 2014

Our regional bus trip took us to the Macomb area today to check out two very different manufacturing facilities.

Our first stop was Vaughan Manufacturing facility, which has been designing and manufacturing hammers for over 135 years. Mike Havens gave us a short history of Vaughan, describing how they went from a small maker of hand tools to the world's largest manufacturer of striking tools.

It was exciting to see the huge forging machines in action, with the loud striking noise and sparks flying. We toured the plants watching the forging, grinding and polishing process. We also went to the fiberglass building to see that process demonstrated.

After a wonderful lunch in Macomb at the Red Ox, we headed for Pella Windows. Headquartered in Pella, Iowa and founded in 1925, Pella has plants in 13 U.S. cities, including Macomb, Illinois. The Macomb plant manufactures Pella’s wood windows and patio doors and is the most recent addition to Pella’s wood manufacturing sites.

After a big welcome to the facility, we sat down with one of the sales managers for a background and overview of the company. We then split into smaller groups to tour the shop floor and see the process from beginning to end.

It was such an interesting day to have the chance to visit these two outstanding, but very different facilities.

For more information, please visit www.vaughanmfg.com and www.pella.com.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Post Deux from France

Our OLLI group of 20 has enjoyed a fabulous time in Lyon, France. we started Thursday with a lecture from a local guide about the history and culture of this ancient city, that dates back to Roman times. We then used the Metro (below ground train) and tramway (above ground trolley) to see different parts of the "old city." OLLI members quickly became comfortable using these forms of transportation, as well as pedi-cabs which several a participants tried. We stopped at the Bartholdi fountain in Place des Terraux near the Musee des Beaux Arts and the extravagantly decorated Lyon city hall.

We climbed the Medieval cobblestone streets of the old city, where we saw charming courtyards and homes and the famous "traboules," stone passageways used primarily by the silk merchants and later by WW II existence fighters. We rode a "funicular," a tram that goes up the hill Fourviere to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, an amazing example of sacred architecture with beautiful mosaics [photo attached]. At the top, we had an amazing view of the city [photo attached] and another delicious lunch, including a traditional French dish, pommes au gratin Dauphinoise. We all loved this creamy, garlicky dish. We had the rest of the day to explore the city, with some taking a well-earned nap and others returning to visit the old city, the Cathedrale de St-Jean, built between the 12th and 15th centuries., and the Musee de Cinema et Miniature, where we saw Harry Potter's wand (be still my heart) and the creature from "Alien," quite frightening up close.

On Thursday we joined our British guide James in celebrating Scotland's vote to stay part of the United Kingdom and then took public transportation to Les Halle's de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the luxurious food indoor food market named for Lyon's famous chef. We enjoyed a tasting lunch featuring choices of fish soup, blood sausage, leg of lamb, or pork intestines made into sausage. Some of us were very happy when dessert arrived and was delicious. We spent the afternoon at the Musee des Beaux Arts and visiting a silk screening studio.

OLLI's 20th Fall Kick-Off Luncheon - September 17, 2014

On Wednesday, September 17, more than 350 OLLI members, volunteers, and instructors gathered at Bradley University to celebrate the kick-off of another academic year.

A volunteer committee decorated the room in a back-to-school theme, complete with books, apples, and individual cupcakes to honor OLLI's 20th birthday. Guests were welcomed by OLLI Vice President Mary Ellen Krum, who encouraged everyone to keep humor in their lives as they continue their lifelong learning goals. Bradley University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. David Glassman, officially welcomed OLLI back to campus. "We believe in OLLI," he said, noting that both he and Bradley University President Joanne Glasser are proud to have OLLI as part of the Bradley family.

Next, Continuing Education Assistant Director Michelle Riggio announced some good news: overall membership for OLLI had reached 1,098 individuals in the past academic year, representing a 7% increase over the past year. She also formally introduced new Program Coordinator Bryan Blanks to the audience, noting his first day on the job will be September 22.

After dining on a delicious meal of prime rib, participants were treated to a keynote presentation by Dr. Michael Wiant, Museum Director at the Illinois State Museum-Dickson Mounds. Dr. Wiant discussed the importance of gathering and how it impacts lifelong learning.

OLLI wishes to thank all of those who came to campus yesterday to celebrate the kick-off of our year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Janet Lange Provides Update on OLLI Members in France!

Bonjour from France, where 20 OLLI members are visiting three cities over 12 days. Our hotel in Paris, our first stop, was located next to the Sorbonne, in the heart of the Latin Quarter and on the Left Bank of the Seine. We were about two blocks from the steps of St. Stephen's where Owen Wilson's character is picked up by a car nightly in the movie,"Midnight in Paris." After walking tours of the city, visits to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Saint Chapelle, and lovely meals, we headed for Lyon today by high speed train.

After a lovely bus drive into the Beaujolais area and mountains, we enjoyed a three-course meal at La Table Du Donjon in the charming village of Oingt, in the Rhone district. Our meal included a puff pastry and duck salad, leg of lamb, and ice cream filled cream puffs, plus tiny cups of espresso and three wines. We have been well fed on this trip.

Next we drove through the Beaujolais mountains to the Chateau de Montmelas, a former castle (which by definition means it was originally for housing soldiers), where the wife of one of the owners gave us a tour of the public portions of the Chateau and tastings of their three wines. The Chateau has been in her husband's family for more than 500 years!

We are having a wonderful time experiencing the Three Faces of France, and we wish you were here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette - Tuesday, September 16

Today, we had the chance to tour the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette hotel, learn about its incredible history, and view the renovations that took place. Not only that--but we also had the opportunity to visit the Marriott Courtyard, which recently opened.

The historical Pere Marquette Hotel was first built in 1926 for $2.5 million. The 12-story building closed in 2011 to undergo an extensive renovation and expansion into a full-service, upscale Marriott Hotel.

Lauren Snopek,Marriott sales manager, began our tour with a private look at a few of the hotel's most famous ballrooms--the 'Marquette Ballroom' with the dazzling, sparkling chandeliers that hang from the ceiling of the ballroom,and the French-inspired 'Cotillion Ballroom " The historic Cotillion Ballroom has been the venue for numerous weddings, and social events of Peoria's elite. The mirrors lining the walls, the detailed carpeting,and preserved wood-work were absolutely breath-taking.

The concierge lounge was a highlight as well, since they kindly offered us treats as we relaxed in this beautifully decorated area with an entire wall of windows.

On our way to the adjoining hotel we checked out the recently completed walkway which links the hotels with the Civic Center and the parking deck. We really enjoyed the amazing view from one of the Courtyard Marriott's suites which provided a birds-eye view of downtown Peoria. Our final stop was the pool and spa area which looked tempting, but our group was hungry for lunch.

The visit concluded with a delicious meal at the Hotel's brand-new restaurant Table 19. Ever wonder where the name originated from? Apparently, during the original days of the Pere Marquette, Table 19 was the most sought-after table to dine at, and with its window seating was the location of many proposals, anniversaries, and birthdays.

Thank you to the Peoria Marriott staff for a wonderful, and informative tour of this historic gem. For more information about the Hotel and the restoration that took place, visit the website here!

Peoria Monument Tour - Monday, September 15

OLLI members joined Jim Ludwig, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Bradley University for a unique adventure exporing the monuments of Peoria. Ranging from Vanna Whitewall to Lydia Bradley; from religious figures to a famous agnostic; from classical to very, very modern; from silly to serious, there is a surprisingly rich and varied collection of public sculpture that we all see (they are in plain sight), but don't really notice.

For the Peoria Monument Tour, members boarded the OLLI shuttle to drive by dozens of sculptures and monuments. Jim Ludwig was a very entertaining narrator as he shared some history and anecdotes about treasures of the community. The final portion of the tour consisted of walking through the Peoria Civic Center inside and out, as well as Peoria City Hall and the plaza area. Today's tour held a special treat, as Byron DeHaan recited his poem Hallowed Ground as the group gathered around Preston Jackson's sculpture Knockin On Freedom's Door. This was the poem he recited at the dedication of the art piece, which honors Peoria's role in the historic Underground Railroad movement.

A big OLLI thank you to Professor Ludwig for sharing his time and talent on the Monument Tour.

Wheel Art Pottery - September 11, 2014

OLLI members cranked up their creativity for this hands-on trip to Wheel Art Pottery. Jacob Grant and Susie Mathews co-own, this studio which opened in 2010.

We learned the background and history of the studio, and also about the different types pottery as we toured the front of the facility. On this trip, OLLI members had a chance to get dirty and tap into their inner artist as they attempted Wheel Throwing and Hand-building. By the end of the morning everyone had at least two pieces of art to put in the kiln.

Our time at the studio flew by and no matter the experience level we all enjoyed working with the clay. Wheel Art Studios will put the pieces in the kiln, and in three weeks we can see just how awesome our art turned out.

A big thanks to Susie, Jacob and Ricky for hosting our group at Wheel Art Pottery, what a fun day!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tazwell County Jail - Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014

On this OLLI trip we joined Tazewell County Sheriff Robert M. Huston on a tour of the Tazwell County Jail facility. The Sheriff gave us a little background and history of the new jail, which is now 11 years old, built in 2003. The old jail only had 105 beds and no dayrooms, which was the cause for many problems according to Sheriff Huston, who estimated they had 3 assualts per week. The new jail has 226 beds and proper dayroom space and many of these issues have decreased dramatically.

The Sheriff gave us a private tour to see first-hand the systematic procedures that take place in the facility.

Our tour began in the booking and intake area, and we also visited the medical area. The group had the opportunity to observe the lock-up portion of the building, which included both the male and female housing units and the special housing units for mental and behavioral issues.

OLLI would like to thank Sheriff Huston and Jail Superintendent Kurt Ulrich for taking the time to give us such an informative and interesting tour.

Pere Marquette State Park & More - Monday, September 8, 2014

Thirty members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Bradley University had an early start to their day, as they boarded a charter coach for southern Illinois.

We began with a tour of the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford, IL which started as a project to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition but became a structure that honors the courage of the two men who set west. OLLI members went high above the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, about 150 feet up to view the confluence, and listened to our guide, Mary Ann describe the background of this monument rich with history.

Our next stop was a visit to the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, located south of the majestic Clark Bridge near Alton, Illinois on the Upper Mississippi River. Our private tour took us atop the Dam, as we learned how this lock and dam system helps to control the flow of the Mississippi and is the means by which barges are able to navigate the river.

After visiting the lock and dam area we had a chance to see the Great Rivers Museum. Established in 2003, the 12,000-square-foot facility contains a large model of the bluffs of the region, an aquarium displaying the various species that inhabit the river, and exhibits explaining the mechanics of the river.

A short drive down the scenic river road we found our final stop, Père Marquette State Park. We enjoyed a delicious all-you-can eat fried chicken dinner in the lodge dining room. We then met with park naturalist Scott Isringhausen, who gave us a short presentation about the park on the veranda. We walked to the visitor's center for a brief stop before boarding the coach for the trip home.

It was a gorgeous, late summer day to be out and about in southern Illinois.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Art Institute of Chicago -- Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

OLLI had their first official trip of the Fall 2014 season with a charter coach to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jean Gronewold, a painter, teacher and frequent OLLI instructor joined us for the day. She gave us a preview of what to look for in the special exhibit "Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926 - 1938" and some insight into this decidedly different artist.

OLLI members began their day at the museum with a keynote lecture where they learned even more about the feature exhibit on Magritte.

They spent the rest of the day on their own enjoying informal gallery talks, self-guided audio tours, as well as artist demonstrations and other mini-lectures.

It was an awesome day, admiring the collection of the second largest art museum in the the United States. We would like to thank Jean Gronewold for joining us and sharing her expertise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

OLLI Fundraiser at Kickapoo Creek Winery - Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

Nearly 150 people celebrated OLLI’s 20th birthday by attending its special fundraiser event on Friday, August 29 at Kickapoo Creek Winery.

The fundraiser was developed to help OLLI continue its tradition of unique, high quality, engaging, and educational programming. Participants spent a beautiful afternoon taking behind-the-scenes tours of the winery with owner (and fellow OLLI member) Dr. David Conner, partaking in wine tastings, enjoying appetizers on the patio, and enjoying the music of the Bradley University Jazz Combo.

After a delicious dinner (which was briefly interrupted by a late summer thunderstorm), participants were entertained by local comedian Rex Havens, who had everyone in stitches with his insightful observations about the hilarious miscommunication that populates our personal lives. In addition, Rex made a generous donation to OLLI by giving all proceeds of his book and compact disc sales to the fundraising effort.

OLLI thanks Rex and our other generous sponsors, Bill Kwon of the Kwon Gallup Group at Morgan Stanley, and Dr. Conner of Kickapoo Creek Winery, for making this first-ever event such a success.

Over the past two years, member donations allowed OLLI to purchase two shuttles and provide Lectures and Cinema programs for free. This year, our fundraising efforts will focus on improving the audio-visual equipment and technology services for OLLI Classes, Study Groups, Cinema, Learning Trips, and Lectures.

For more information about annual or planned giving, please contact Janet Lange, Executive Director of Continuing Education, at lange@bradley.edu.

National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research- Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Today OLLI had the unique chance for a behind-the-scenes tour of Peoria's National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research (NCAUR).

On this trip, we had the rare opportunity for a first-hand look at the lab, home to more than 100 Ph.D. research scientists who invent industrial and food products and develop technologies to improve environmental quality.

More than one OLLI member commented they had always wondered what went on in this huge brick building, and thanks to today's tour, now they know!

Thank you to Clete Kurtzman for coordinating our tour, and to the staff at NCAUR who gave their time and energy for this OLLI trip, which was such an outstanding learning experience.

Komatsu- Monday, August, 25, 2014

It was an extremely hot day as OLLI members toured Komatsu's Peoria facility.

During this tour, we saw a large truck frame welded from start to finish, and we also had a chance to walk through an assembly line of the Engine Power Module, and visit the main assembly line of Komatsu’s large mining trucks.

Keith Rohman, Manufacturing Engineering Manger at Komatsu gave us a brief history of the company and was our personal tour guide for the day.

A big thanks to Keith and the entire Komatsu staff for their warm welcome.

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