A program dedicated to adult learners received another nod toward its continued success this week when a $1 million gift arrived from the Bernard Osher Foundation.
The foundation’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Montana – popularly known as MOLLI – announced the gift Wednesday, continuing a program that found its roots in Missoula in 2005.
“The institute’s success represents the collective achievement of its staff and a dynamic community of intellectually vigorous members who give generously of their time, talent and financial resources,” the foundation’s president, Mary Bitterman, said.
The program began in 2005 and has seen steady growth each of its years. It expanded from two lectures in 2005 to six classes the following year. After the course schedule was released this fall, the program reported an enrollment of 930 adults in 23 courses.
The classes, including those on volcanoes, the Bakken and Russia, are open to adults 50 years and older. The program is managed by the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning at UM.
As history tells it, Ann Boone, who chairs the program’s council, packed her bags in 1966 and left New England for Missoula, where the energy of living in a college town tantalized her intellectual curiosity.
Boone and friend Kitte Robins brought the idea of a community lecture series to the UM Alumni Association. The move set the wheels in motion, leading to what eventually became the MOLLI program.
“This generous gift is a real tribute to the many MOLLI members who have worked so hard for the program and participated in the great variety of academic offerings,” said Boone. “We are fortunate to live in a community of seasoned adults who love to learn.”