Carnegie Mellon University

Our Beginning

In August 1991, Robert Mehrabian, Carnegie Mellon University President, brought in Steve Calvert as assistant VP and director of alumni relations with the intention of founding an adult education program. Mehrabian’s vision was to strengthen alumni relations in a variety of ways including a focus on education programs for alumni and the University’s neighbors, retired adults still thirsty for knowledge.

Guided by Gretchen Langford, a 1943 Margaret Morrison Carnegie College alumna, and Edwin “Ted” Fenton, alumnus, CMU professor of History, and director of CMU’s Center for University Outreach, Academy for Lifelong Learning (A.L.L.) came to be in 1992. The first year of operation, 1993-1994, generated a membership of 300 students, far exceeding their goal of 200.

The national movement for enriching lives through extending learning flourished and by 2007, A.L.L. had grown to over 1,200 members.  Following a grant of $100,000 from the Bernard Osher Foundation, the A.L.L. Board of Directors recommended joining forces with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, dedicated to the same goals. By early 2009, CMU was awarded a 1-million-dollar endowment to support the A.L.L. program which was renamed the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.  In 2013, the Foundation gave another 1 million.  Yearly, Osher at CMU receives investment earnings from the Osher endowment to help cover staff salaries.

In 2020, the organization raised $1.4 million to build and furnish two classrooms, a lounge, an activity room, a conference room, and staff offices in Cyert Hall.  Members now enjoy coming to the new space for classes, eating lunch together, assembling puzzles, participating in many special interest groups that include movies, canasta, bridge, and attending special events such as new member welcome parties, the annual meeting, and special lectures and discussion groups.