We are a community of lifelong learners aged 50+ who work together to help create and deliver educational, cultural, and social opportunities – without exams or grades! Faculty members, retired teachers, and members simply passionate about a subject they know well enjoy sharing their expertise with others whose life experience and intelligence enrich the exchange of ideas. With three ways to learn – in the classroom, outdoors, and online – OLLI offers a unique way to explore new topics.
OLLI 2022-23 Annual Report (pdf)
Prime Timers’ Learning in Retirement Program
In 1988, 31 charter members adopted a Constitution and began officially operating on the Chico State campus as Prime Timers. The first year, four classes were launched and a pattern was forged that continues today. Prime Timers grew steadily for many years, priding itself on being completely volunteer-driven.
As membership surpassed the 400 mark many years later, Chico State applied for and received a series of “seed” grants from The Bernard Osher Foundation to help pay for a part-time program coordinator. The Osher Foundation requires that colleges and universities receiving Osher grants call themselves an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). In 2007, the Osher Foundation awarded the University a $1 million endowment to continue supporting OLLI at Chico State. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute continues to be supported by many of the original Prime Timers members whose experience and commitment to lifelong learning helps make OLLI the unique experience it is today.
The Bernard Osher Foundation
The Bernard Osher Foundation was established in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a San Francisco businessman and community leader, who perceived that the needs of mature students were not well served by traditional continuing education programs. The Foundation supports the strengthening of existing lifelong learning programs, as well as the creation of new ones, at colleges and universities across the country. The Foundation began its support of such programs in 2001 with grants to Sonoma State University in California and the University of Southern Maine at Portland.
In 2005, Chico State joined the network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes and our existing learning-in-retirement program became known as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Chico State. In 2007, the foundation awarded OLLI at Chico State a $1 million endowment gift for programming excellence and for demonstrating potential for long-term success and sustainability, and a second $1 million endowment gift was awarded in December 2014.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
In March 2020, all OLLI in-person classes were suspended due to COVID-19. In April 2020, OLLI piloted their first online classes. In the Summer and Fall 2020 terms, OLLI offered a total of 76 fully online classes. Although there was a steep learning curve, more than 500 members participated in at least one online class in the 2020-2021 academic year. In Fall 2021, OLLI began slowly reopening to in-person classes. OLLI at Chico State now offers a mix of fully online, fully in-person, and hybrid (simultaneously online and in person) classes every term.