BOLLI celebrates its 20th anniversary at Brandeis

Brandeis University is a well-known research institution that offers educational opportunities to undergraduate students, graduate students as well as students pursuing higher levels of education. However, what may not be as well-known to students on campus is that adults aged 50 and above are also given the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a variety of subjects here at Brandeis. This is possible through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis (BOLLI), located at 60 Turner Street.

For someone who might only just now be hearing about BOLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis is a “vibrant year-round community of intellectually curious adults who enjoy exploring a wide ranging curriculum” including topics such as art, economics, film, language, science and more, wrote Megan Curtis, Associate Director of BOLLI, in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. 

Curtis has been working at the institute for seven years since starting as Program Administrator. In her current role, she “manage[s] BOLLI operations and logistics including information and financial systems, program and facility and marketing and communications logistics,” she wrote in an email to The Hoot. “Basically if it needs to happen in order for the program to run, I make sure it happens.” This could include operations management, scheduling of courses, classroom technology set-up, volunteer assignments and more. 

Curtis also oversees the “admissions and enrollment processes, advises students in person, by phone and by email about course schedules, requirements, and request for exceptions” and serves as Communications Manager. 

BOLLI hosts multiple forms of learning opportunities for its members. For example, members of BOLLI can attend lecture series every semester, seminars offered by Brandeis faculty, book discussions, literary salons, social events, readings and more. There are also courses led by Brandeis staff, faculty and graduate students. According to the BOLLI website, there are also “intergenerational events especially designed to bring BOLLI members and traditional Brandeis students together in learning.”

As an example, Curtis mentioned a class held by BOLLI in Fall 2019 called “Youth, Aging and the Human Connection.” The class met in Skyline Residence Hall. During the class, twelve undergraduate students were paired with twelve members of BOLLI to interview each other. “Each partner interviewed the other, delving into similarities and differences in life experience, and expectations. The students and BOLLI members enjoyed a rare level of dialogue and formed enduring connections as a result,” wrote Curtis.

Members of BOLLI also have the ability to lead study groups. “Our Study Group Leaders are from all walks of life – former professors, teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, etc.,” Curtis wrote. BOLLI also has Special Interest Groups, that operate similarly to student clubs, as they are designed and led by members themselves. According to the BOLLI website, some of the groups include a Writers Guild, a Poetry Circle and BOLLI Waltham Matters, among others.

BOLLI is celebrating its 20 year anniversary in 2020. Notably, this year BOLLI will also be expanding outside of 60 Turner Street to include spaces such as the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at the Women’s Studies Research Center and also the Waltham Senior Center. “We’re excited to expand our horizons and be able to reach more older adults with our programming,” wrote Curtis.

For Curtis, her favorite part about being involved with BOLLI is the community. “I love helping older adults find meaningful connections with one another in a learning environment. It’s rewarding work!”

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