Carnegie Mellon University

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December 11, 2020

Looking Ahead to Osher Classes in the Future: The Path Forward for Osher Courses in 2021

By Jim Reitz

Since we began  in 1992, our mission to serve our members has always had at least two prime elements:  New, interesting learning to enrich/stimulate the mind, and increasing our social contacts.   That remains true today. 

I have been a member of Osher for 15 years.  For years I thought everything was so simple and convenient.  I signed up for a course, went to the classroom and had a great learning and social experience.  It was not until I joined the Board of Directors that I learned how much time, planning and work is required from the board, the curriculum committee, study leaders, and office staff in order to make it “appear” so simple for most of us, our members.

So, what can we count on?  We will return to in-person classes and offering our normal full range of in-person courses as soon as we can safely do so, hopefully no later than the Fall 2021 term.  And we are on schedule to be in our new classrooms in Cyert Hall for the Fall 2021 term.  Because some members really like online classes via Zoom, we expect to continue some classes online even when we resume our full range of offerings of in-person courses.  We have been asked if there would be classes that are offered simultaneously online and in-person?  That is a much more complex question.  We already know that requires additional, rather expensive equipment, requires resolving registration process issues, and resolution of a number of administrative and policy issues. So this question definitely requires a lot more work to answer.  Osher will keep you informed as this effort continues.   

We seniors are continually told that to live to the fullest and to maximize the quality of our lives, our lives should include at least three things:  1) Mental stimulation; 2) Socialization; and 3) Exercise.  So, if at all possible, we should all be looking forward to the return of in-person classes so we can meet and mingle with others and to exercise on our short walks to and from classes.  Doing so will be doing yourself 3 simultaneous favors.

Overall, we are planning for a full range of in-person courses and some online courses, but at the same time keeping our eyes open for other options to benefit our members.  A year ago, we would never have guessed that we would be using Zoom as a teaching tool for online classes.  Your board, curriculum committee, study leaders, and staff are immersed in continuous learning also.  With the pandemic still very much controlling much of what we do today, we can’t totally predict the future, but we are planning and preparing to fulfill the Osher mission in the best ways possible. You can ABSOLUTELY count on the fact that the  best possible options for our members and our study leaders will be  explored and put into practice to the highest degree possible. 

Jim Reitz, Immediate Past President