[Editors note — this is a continuation of 12-part feature by The Wall Street Journal profiling “pioneers who are shaping the way Americans will live, work and play in later life.”]
Number Nine — Senior School Master
Returning to school, in some fashion, is high on many people’s to-do lists in retirement. Bernard Osher is helping to build the classrooms and programs you might enter.
Mr. Osher helped his family start Golden West Financial Corp. in the 1960s and created a personal foundation in the 1970s. Today, he is pouring nearly $200 million into what has become known as lifelong learning, or college-based education for older adults.
A native of Biddeford, Maine, Mr. Osher had his first significant exposure to the practice in 2000 during a visit to the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco. “I came away very impressed,” he says, particularly with “the joy of learning” that he witnessed.
Several months later, a trip to the Senior College at the University of Southern Maine in Portland sealed his interest. The Bernard Osher Foundation made a $2.2 million gift to the Maine program in 2001, allowing the university to expand its peer-taught courses and workshops to more than 1,000 students ages 50 and older. Since then, the foundation has donated $73 million to nearly 120 lifelong-learning institutes on university campuses from Maine to Hawaii. Future grants will be used primarily to augment those programs.
— By Kelly Greene, The Wall Street Journal
Tomorrow — Advocate for the Aging.