Yello black eyed Susan flowers in the sunlight.

All Life is Learning - March 2023

Director's Note and In this issue

Director's Note

Wow! The response to our OLLI at WMU pop-up event was incredible, we are over-the-moon elated that we were able to add 20 additional seats. We hope that everyone who had the opportunity to attend “80 for Brady” enjoyed this wonderful movie and that you were able to connect with other OLLI members during the discussion following the film. Thank you to everyone for helping us fill 50 seats, and a special thank you to Mike for making arrangements with the theater and facilitating the conversation afterward.

For those who experienced registration hiccups, we apologize! We are currently in the process of making corrections and responding to your requests.

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU 


We continue our registration for our Winter/Spring courses and the course schedule is available for viewing on the website! Registering online is the quickest way to secure your spot for the courses you want to take. If you need assistance when registering online, email us at or call (269) 387-4157. Please leave a voicemail if we cannot answer – we will see it in our email.

There is still time to register for the following February courses and you can visit our website for specific dates and times these courses will be offered.

  • The History of Pre-Prohibition Brewing in Kalamazoo
  • Self-Driving Cars: The Future of Transportation?
  • Migrating Children in Alan Gratz's Refugee
  • Exploring the Hidden Power, Comfort, Security, and Encouragement Found in a Familiar Poem 23rd Psalms
  • Michigan, My Michigan: The History of Michigan from the Automobile to World War II
  • YOU GO GIRL: Four Formidable Females from Four Great Plays
  • Memoir Collage - Currently has 0 Registrants
  • Jane Austen: So Much More Than Mr. Darcy
  • Ladies Library Association of Michigan
  • Air Zoo: Creating Cosmic Connection with Art
  • On The Town: A Musical Theater Classic
  • What it Was: Growing up When Music Mattered 
  • Wigging Out with Garry Lee McCormick
  • "Only the Ball was White" Baseball, Racial Segregation and the Struggle for Black Civil Rights


A Look Back…and Another Look Ahead!

If the rest of 2023 is anything like the first two months, then it’s going to be another terrific year for OLLI! Highlighted by our wonderful guest speaker Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten, attendance and feedback for our January Thaw was fantastic – we had 135 attendees and 100% positive responses to our survey!

In February, our private matinee movie screening of "80 for Brady" was also a resounding success. After selling out in one day, we reserved a larger theater to add 20 seats and still needed a waiting list. Thanks to Ginny Spenner, our photographer for capturing the photos below. Count on more events like this in the coming year!

OLLI Cares

Looking ahead to our Fill-A-Trunk event this summer, we want to highlight two local organizations that our members can support. 

  • The oldest and largest YWCA in Michigan, YWCA Kalamazoo, is dedicated to eliminating racism, helping families, empowering women, strengthening communities and standing up for social justice. 
  • Through mentoring services, scholarships and financial assistance, the SEITA Scholars Program at WMU helps youth emerging from foster care to achieve their educational and professional goals. 

Next month, we’ll spotlight two more organizations that will be joining us for OLLI Cares.

Membership & Marketing


Is it the luck of the Irish or the luck of being an OLLI member? Whatever it is, we are indeed lucky to have an outstanding organization that provides excellent courses, events, and trips. So spread the word and maybe a leprechaun with a pot of gold will visit you in thanks! 



Congratulations Lieutenant Colonel Tom Vance!

Our own Tom Vance (OLLI instructor and Development Committee member) has written a new book titled “Francis Bonaparte, A Military Life.” Tom shares that his book is in part “based on lectures at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University.” What a wonderful tribute! A little trivia – Tom has been involved with OLLI since 2013!

If you are interested in purchasing his new book, click here.


OLLI Adventures: Calling All Travelers for SUMMER TRIPS 

Our 2023 schedule of fun interesting and educational trips is kicking off Sunday, May 21. Join us as we head east to Adrian, home of the Croswell Opera House, which was built in 1866. It is the oldest theater in Michigan and one of the oldest continually operating theaters in the nation.

We will arrive in time for a lovely lunch at JR’s Hometown Grill and then on to the Croswell to laugh our way through the delightful Broadway hit, "The Play That Goes Wrong." This is a laugh-out-loud sketch comedy combined with an Agatha Christie-style mystery that evolves into a hilarious and utterly disastrous play-within-a-play full of missed cues, wrong entrances, falling props, forgotten lines, and even a small fire in a waste basket. This is a wonderful way to relax and laugh our way into the fullness of springtime. Menu selection for JR’s Hometown Grill will be available at registration.

Next up, mark your calendar for June 21. The summer solstice is not the only event happening on this date! Your OLLI travel team has put together an exciting exploration into an American cultural phenomenon to SEE AMERICA FIRST by highway and byway through its love affair with camping and glamping. This testimony on America the Beautiful has been documented through the lens of an extraordinary and legendary photographer, Mr. Clyde Butcher, now 81 years young and likened to the Ansel Adams of his day. We will get to view over 40 of his photographic works! 

We are having fun tying this American love story together, and trust us, you will enjoy every minute of this day! We are finalizing the trip itinerary, which will prove to be educational, awe-inspiring, and full of interesting experiences. We are a few weeks out from the registration date and will have more details soon, but we wanted to give you early notice as you fill in your summer calendars. Plan to hop on board for this delightful trip scheduled for June 21!

Watch for full details on the OLLI website and with an e-blast for these trips once AAA has confirmed final details and priced the trip.

Wellness Moment

Tyler Norman, Ph.D.
Manager of Corporate Outreach
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist
West Hills Athletic Club, WMU
(269) 387-0431

Top Fitness Trends for 2023

Wearable technology was named the top trend for 2023 by 4500 health and fitness professionals in a December publication of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Wearable technology refers to pedometers, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, and smartwatches. The fitness industry has always been a research- and data-based industry, and this trend in fitness technology has emerged due to our inherent need for feedback and analysis of our exercise and recreation. These advancements in technology have enabled us to know our heart rate, caloric expenditure, target workout intensity (based on fitness objective), sleeping patterns, steps per day, and much more. 

The technology we use at West Hills is called MyZone. It has become very popular for many reasons, but mainly for the real-time feedback it can offer during our workouts.  

For example, let’s say your goal is to lose body fat. We know that our bodies select stored body fat as fuel when we engage in lower-intensity, longer-duration aerobic exercise. Our instinct is to engage in these exercises at an intensity level that causes labored breathing and perspiration. At that level of intensity, your body will be more likely to use stored glycogen in the muscles for fuel, as opposed to body fat. The heart rate monitor will let you know that your intensity is too high for what was indicated as the goal of fat loss. You can subsequently reduce the intensity and slide into the “target heart rate” to align with the goal.  

I will add that much of today’s technology can be intimidating, but it has become much more user-friendly in recent years. If you are interested in getting in on the technology trend, these devices usually come with a downloadable app that walks you through it. If you are still confused, you can recruit a West Hills trainer or any of your grandchildren for assistance. I have re-posted the remaining trends from the ACSM article below for further reading because they reinforce many of the topics we have discussed as the pathway to VITALITY! I am especially pleased to see trends #2 and #4 make the list.

  1. Wearable Technology. Think fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices, including tech that can monitor heart rate, calories, sitting time, sleep and more.  
  2. Strength Training with Free Weights. This activity incorporates the use of barbells, dumbbells and/or kettlebells.  
  3. Body Weight Training. Predictably, techniques that focus on body weight as the primary resistance. Body weight training uses minimal equipment and space, making it an inexpensive and functional way to exercise.  
  4. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. Programming focused on the aging population and its unique needs.  
  5. Functional Fitness Training. Training to improve balance, coordination, functional strength and endurance to improve activities of daily living.  
  6. Outdoor Activities. Pursuits like group walks, bicycle rides or organized hiking led by health and fitness professionals. Activities can be short events, day-long events, or planned multiday excursions.  
  7. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These exercise programs typically involve repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise combined with periods of rest.  
  8. Exercise for Weight Loss. This trend incorporates weight loss programs like dieting and cooking classes with an exercise routine.  
  9. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals. Hiring certified health and fitness professionals who have completed educational programs and fully accredited health/fitness certifications.  
  10. Personal Training. Personal training includes goal setting, fitness assessment, and exercise programming with a trainer in one-on-one settings.

If you have any questions about any of the trends, please feel free to call or email!

Opportunities to Connect and Learn

Would You Like to Be a Health Mentor?

Western Michigan University’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) is looking for you to help develop tomorrow’s health care providers by becoming a health mentor! If you are interested in learning more about this program and contributing to the future of our healthcare providers, please email Dr. Debra Lindstrom at or call (269) 387-7239 and leave a message with a phone number and the best time to reach you. 

Kalamazoo Public Library Wants to Hear From You

Join a focus group at Kalamazoo Public Library to talk about community reading programs!

  • Alma Powell branch – Tuesday, March 7 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Barnabee Gallery, 1000 W. Paterson St.
  • Eastwood branch – Friday, March 10 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Community Room, 1112 Gayle Ave.
  • Oshtemo branch – Monday, March 13 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room, 7265 W. Main St.

If you would like to participate in one of the above focus groups, please email or call (269) 553-7895 to register in advance so we know how many to expect. Refreshments and childcare (if requested) will be provided.

Giving Day – Let's Go OLLI! 

Stay tuned because Western Michigan University’s 2023 Giving Day is next month! All details will be shared via the April newsletter, emails, and our Facebook page. Last year we won several of the competitions (we earned an additional $1,600 in bonus dollars through the various challenges), so let’s get ready to beat the competition again!

Great Decisions 2023

According to the homepage of the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs. The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the video series, and meeting in a Discussion Group to join a conversation about eight of the most critical global issues experts say America is facing today. 

You can find the YouTube links to all of the programs below – 

February 6, Reckoning on War Crimes
Deborah Amos, NPR 

February 13, What’s Ahead for China and the U.S.  
Mary Gallagher, University of Michigan  

February 20, The Geopolitics of Hunger and Global Food Production
Brittany Cook, Louisiana State University

February 27, Iran at a Crossroads 
Suzanne DiMaggio, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 
Director, Iran Project 

March 6, Latin American Politics: A Shift to the Left? 
P. Michael McKinley, Ambassador (ret.) to Brazil, Peru, and Columbia  

March 13, Energy Politics: New Power? 
Wiebe Boer, President of Calvin University, and former executive for Shell All-On,
dedicated to providing energy to the under-served in Nigeria 

March 20, Climate Migration and the Nomad Century 
Gaia Vince, U.K. journalist (BBC and The Economist) and author of Nomad Century 

March 27, Sanctions: Costs and Effects 
David Cortright, Kroc Institute for International Peace, Notre Dame 

What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMUx. OLLI offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment.  Read more


What do we do?

We offer short courses for one to four weeks. Sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer courses in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several sessions in one week, and more evening courses. OLLI courses and activities are developed and produced by its members with the support of the staff of WMUx.

We need your ideas for course topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or send an email. The curriculum committee will review all suggestions.