ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A University of New Mexico institute on Wednesday celebrated a gift of $1 million, the second million-dollar endowment in eight years from a San Francisco-based foundation, for continuing educational programs for people over 50.
Last fall, the Bernard Osher Foundation challenged UNM’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to raise $20,000 from 20 percent of its membership of more than 1,200. Stepping up to the plate, 208 members donated $20,764, which made it possible for the institute to apply for the endowment.
UNM established the institute in 2007 with a $1 million endowment from the same foundation, started in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a businessman and community leader. The foundation supports higher education and the arts by giving to colleges and universities across the country, with special attention to re-entry students.
Provost Chaouki Abdallah opened the celebration, calling the gift something “extra” that will help maintain the OLLI programs.
Monica Orozco Obando, vice provost for extended learning, was a bit more effusive: “We are thrilled to receive this generous endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation,” she told the gathering at the UNM Continuing Education offices. “This is truly a testament to the generosity of our members and the power of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program at UNM. We would not be celebrating this wonderful gift today were it not for the hard work and dedication of the staff and all our OLLI volunteers and members.”
The institute will use the money to help provide instructors and program materials and to keep the courses accessible and fees low.
OLLI is a nonprofit organization that provides a broad array of noncredit courses and activities designed for people at least 50 years old who are interested in learning for the sake of learning. OLLI offers more than 300 academic classes over three semesters in four central New Mexico locations. Classes are taught by current and retired UNM faculty members and other community experts.