• large group of OLLI travelers in front of Abraham Lincoln statue

    OLLI at WMU travelers took a 4 day, 3 night trip to Springfield, Illinois to learn more about Abraham Lincoln.

  • OLLI travelers seated at Sarkozy's Bakery

    Sarkozy’s Bakery hosted an OLLI at WMU Course.

  • OLLI travelers gathered around a basket of Alpaca yarn

    OLLI at WMU course participants learned how to make coasters with Alpaca yarn.

  • group of OLLI students watching Gordon Bolar present about radio

    OLLI at WMU welcomed Gordon Bolar, former general manager of WMUK, to teach a course on WMUK and radio.

Spring courses, events and trips canceled due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) precautions

Message to OLLI at WMU members, 3/23/2020


Dear OLLI Members,

On behalf of the OLLI and WMUx staff we continue to thank you for your patience as we all try to adjust to the immediate changes in our lives; and your understanding and flexibility as the OLLI staff figures out next steps.

As the country continues to grapple with COVID-19, so does Western Michigan University. Below is partial information that was communicated on Friday in an email from Dr. Montgomery, the University’s President.

"[As] a result of the continuing spread of the disease in the state of Michigan, the University has decided to take the precautionary step of extending distance education through the end of the spring semester, which officially concludes Saturday, April 25.

"Effective Monday, March 23, through Saturday, April 25, University operations will be limited to those activities that are essential for the institution to continue its most critical functions, which includes delivering distance education."

Therefore, OLLI at WMU will continue to suspend courses, events and committee meetings until such time as WMU resumes full operation. We know there are questions; I’ve addressed as many as possible below.

  • Will summer courses be offered?
    At this time, we are planning to offer summer courses which would begin June 1.
  • When will we receive the summer catalog?
    Our plan is to have the catalog available after April 25. Because there is still quite a bit of uncertainty, and we do not want to put our members at risk by delivering catalogs, we will be creating an online catalog only.
  • Will OLLI committees meet during this time period?
    OLLI committees will not meet, and all courses and events continue to be canceled at least through the remainder of the OLLI winter/spring semester.
  • Winter/Spring course fees:
    A large part of the OLLI budget is generated through membership and course fees. Canceling courses, as you can imagine, will tremendously affect the OLLI budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. As we look forward, we are trying to minimize the unanticipated financial consequences associated with COVID-19. Thus, we are asking you to consider donating all or a portion of your winter/spring course fees to help sustain the OLLI budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. If you desire a refund, we will surely make this happen, however, refunds will be issued 4-8 weeks after the university resumes full operation.
  • What should we know about future OLLI events and fall courses?
    Once the University resumes operation, OLLI expects to return to business as usual with hosting the Taste of OLLI event in July; and offering fall courses as well as other events.

As Dr. Montgomery says, "these are anxious times and our community, as well as others around the globe, face extraordinary challenges ahead. Please know that we are in this together. It is in these times that we put our best selves forward, and I am seeing that every day. I believe in the WMU community [which includes all OLLI members]. I know that we are resilient, and I have seen your perseverance. Thank you for your continuing flexibility in these extraordinary times."


Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU Appoints New Director
Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes brings more than 30 years of experience in leading various student-focused programs at WMU into her new role with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

On Nov. 17, 2015, WMU President John M. Dunn announced that The Bernard Osher Foundation awarded the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University a $1 million gift to set up an endowment in support of the community wide effort that offers courses and trips to hundreds of residents annually.

WMU has been the home of an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and part of the foundation's famed national network since April 2014. The Bernard Osher Foundation noted at the time it would consider providing a permanent support gift of $1 million once OLLI at WMU demonstrated success and the potential for sustainability.  The full press release is available here.

Watch our video to learn more about OLLI at WMU.

Founded in 2011, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU offers high quality non-credit programs for mature adults in the greater Kalamazoo community. This volunteer organization, with support from WMU’s Extended University Programs, works with WMU emeriti, faculty and staff to offer courses and trips year-round. 

OLLI at WMU is proud to have created a community of lifelong learners in Kalamazoo and looks forward to continued growth as it creates more and more diverse learning experiences for its members.

Catalog and courses

View the current catalog and learn how to register for courses and trips. Learn more on our Courses page.