Page banner: pastel pencils arranged in a rainbow pattern at a recent OLLI course

All Life is Learning - November 2021

Director's Note and In this Issue

Director's Note

This past July, we unveiled the new look and feel of the OLLI monthly newsletter. That said, we are adding a new section to the newsletter, designed to further inform and educate us as lifelong learners about cultural diversity. Judith Ramsey, a Master of Social Work graduate student, is working with OLLI to contribute to the development of this new section, which will be featured in our newsletter each month. Our goal is to share information that will encourage learning and exploring in ways that strengthen our commitment and connections to one another. Enjoy this new section of the newsletter!


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

Curriculum Update

Fall semester is winding down, but there are still some November courses with openings still available:

  • Iconic Photos - The Rest of the Story – Sam Grossman, Tues. 11/2, 1 to 3 p.m., Friendship Village, Village Clubhouse Classroom
  • Pastel Painting for the Love of Color, Section 2 – Tracy Klinestecker, Wed. 11/3, 11/10 & 11/17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friendship Village, Activities Room
  • Air Zoo: Rocketry - Getting to the Moon – Erin Lewis, Thurs. 11/4, 10 a.m. to noon, Air Zoo
  • The History and the Literature: All the Light you Cannot See – Diane and Stanley Henderson, Mon. 11/8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., College of Health and Human Services, Room #1035
  • Alzheimer's and Dementia Mini Series – Cassidy Covert, Tues. 11/9, 11/16 and 11/23, 10 a.m. to noon, online via Webex
  • Gentle Hatha Yoga – Shawn Hinga, Thurs. 11/11 and 11/18, 1 to 3 p.m., online via Webex

Register on our website or by phone at (269) 387-4157.



Michigan OLLI Collaboration

Free, but registration is required

Watch these exciting events highlighting the fine arts in different regions of Michigan right from your living room. Sign up for the remaining offerings on the course registration page of the website under SIGs and Special Offerings. Remaining programs are the second Wednesday of October, November, and December at 10 a.m. A Zoom link will be sent to those registered.

  • November 10 Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Unveiling American Genius

OLLI at Western Michigan University

A reimagining of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Museum’s permanent collection, illuminating the ingenuity that springs from all corners of American society. Honoring KIA’s ongoing commitment to an ever more diverse and inclusive representation of American artists in its holdings, it features key stories that women, African Americans, Latinx, and other artists have told about our culture, our art, and our history. The presentation shows abstract and contemporary works as well as traditional genres of painting such as landscapes, still life, and portraits. The KIA opened in 1924 as a nonprofit organization and now owns nearly 5,000 fine artworks. It includes 10 galleries, the Kirk Newman Art School, and the KIA Gallery Shop.

  • December 8 Wednesday, 10 a.m.

The Story of Boy Rocker Frankie Lymon

OLLI at Saginaw Valley State University

Complete the programming with Dr. J of the Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dr. J will delve into the twisted life, career, and death of boy rocker Frankie Lymon, the lead singer of the Teenagers (1954-Present), America’s first all-teenage rock and roll group. Lymon’s soprano voice made audiences swoon. He sang the Teenagers’ first and biggest hit, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” at just 13 years of age. It reached number six on Billboard’s Pop Singles Chart and was later covered by The Beach Boys, Diana Ross, and many more. Dr. J leads the way through the dramatic twists and turns of Lymon’s life after this smash hit, into a failed solo career, heroin addiction, three wives and one unmarked grave.

  • November 10 Wednesday, 1:30 p.m.

OLLI at WMU Annual Membership Meeting

Our special guest speaker this year will be Dr. Edward Montgomery, President of WMU. Join us for a brief business meeting and the election of Advisory Board members preceding  Dr. Montgomery’s presentation.

Membership and Marketing

The Gift of OLLI

'Tis the Season… it's time to think about gifts for the holidays! What better gift to give than a membership to OLLI and One Day University? It's a wonderful way to pass the time indoors by watching lectures from outstanding local and national instructors, right from the comfort of home. Plus, the person receiving the membership can live anywhere in the world and still enjoy our online courses!

To purchase a gift membership, contact the office at (269) 387-4157.

SHARE OLLI with a friend! Our newsletter is packed with interesting and important information and we encourage readers to forward it to a neighbor, friend or relative. Thank you!


OLLI at WMU Donor Challenge Match Grant

Thanks to a very generous donor, OLLI at WMU will be embarking upon its first ever donor challenge. Contributions to this year's annual appeal campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar! 

WMU's Advancement Office will be mailing the annual year-end appeal letter in November. Once you receive the letter, I am personally asking every person affiliated with OLLI at WMU to help us achieve 100% participation. Remember, OLLI benefits from your ongoing financial support through generous giving, course registration and membership fees.

Please help make this our largest fundraising to date! Again, keep your eyes open for the year-end appeal letter to arrive in your mailbox soon. We are deeply grateful to the donor for making this possible, and thank you in advance for helping OLLI have a successful fundraising event.



Veterans Day

To all our vets, thank you for your service!

Are you, or someone you know, a veteran or a veteran's spouse that would enjoy getting together with other veterans? The Portage Senior Center Veterans Group will meet monthly on the second Thursday of every month from noon to 2 p.m. with group leader Jim Stephanak, U.S. Navy - USS Suribachi (AE-21) (1975-1979).

Mark your calendars and join the group for fellowship, discussion and guest speakers. All veterans and spouses of veterans are welcome to join us for our monthly meetings. All ages are welcome, and you do not need to be a resident of Portage or a member of the Senior Center to attend. In order to plan accordingly for lunches, please RSVP to the Portage Senior Center at (269) 329-4555 no later than a week prior to the meeting.


Knee Pain and Osteoarthritis

Do you or someone you know suffer from knee pain or knee osteoarthritis? We are inviting participants 45 or older for a study called The Effects of Home Use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation on People with Knee Osteoarthritis and Chronic Knee Pain.

The study will consist of Musculoskeletal Ultrasound imaging of the knee to classify the knee OA and any swelling. An active or placebo TENS will be worn at home. A baseline and three follow-up visits over a month will follow involving functional tests, MSK US imaging and reading of a pedometer you will use at home.

If you are interested and/or have more questions, please call Sarah Anderson at (269) 387-8987 or email A $100 gift card will be given for participation!

Daryl Lawson, PT, DSc-PI
Adriana M Degani, Ph.D.-Co-PI
Western Michigan University Department of Physical Therapy


Health and Wellness

Tyler Norman, Ph.D.
Manager of Corporate Outreach
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist
West Hills Athletic Club, WMU

The Goldfish Analogy…Basal Metabolic Rate vs. Body Mass Index

I often explain the difference between Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Body Mass Index (BMI). They're easy to mix up because the anacronyms are so close and they are both generally used in the context of weight management. Although completely different, they do parallel each other in some ways. BMR is the number of calories that your body needs to sustain itself at a state of rest. If you laid in bed all day, it's the number of calories your body will use over the course of the day. To determine an individual's Total Energy Expenditure (TEE), an activity factor must be included in the calculation. If you are very active or have a job that is physical in nature, you would have a higher activity factor and subsequently burn more calories over the course of the day than someone who is less active or had a sedentary job. In the application of weight management or energy balance, BMR is an important piece of the puzzle. We all know that if we want to lose weight, we must create a caloric deficit. But how do I know what a deficit is? Without the BMR calculation we are simply guessing. Conversely, if I want to gain weight, I must create a caloric surplus. How do I know what a surplus is? It's the guessing that usually leads to little or no progress in our weight management efforts. Additionally, it's important to know our BMR so we don't create too much of a caloric deficit, putting us at risk of going into what's known as "caloric debt," which is when our metabolism uses our precious muscle for fuel. BMR can be calculated by a fitness professional or dietician after conducting a body composition analysis, which tells us the percentage of fat weight vs. lean weight. Once you know your BMR and subsequently your TEE, you can now accurately determine a caloric surplus or deficit. It is generally recommended not to exceed a 500 calorie per day surplus or deficit. I sometimes use the fishbowl analogy to explain BMR. The goldfish grows to the size of the bowl, but if you put it in a bigger bowl, it gets bigger. Your BMR determines the size of your fishbowl. If your averaging 2000 calories a day to maintain your current bodyweight, and you want a smaller fishbowl, consume 1500 calories per day and you get a smaller fishbowl. BMI Is a generic calculation using your height and weight to determine if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. Its primary application is to determine if we are at risk for a variety of coronary risk factors like hypertension and diabetes because of our weight. While it is generally used by the medical and insurance communities, fitness professionals like myself do not place much value on BMI as it does not account for lean vs. fat weight. Subsequently, anyone with above average muscle mass will be labeled overweight or obese. For example, anyone with significantly above average muscle mass like Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, and Michael Jordan are categorized as morbidly obese.


Now You Know

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

This month most people celebrate Thanksgiving by eating food with their family and loved ones, and telling everyone who or what they are thankful for. Many people forget an important part of history – this month is Native American Heritage Month. This month of recognition for Native American Heritage first started when President Reagan announced in 1986 that the week of November 23-30 is "American Indian Week." While this is a derogatory term made towards the first people of our nation, it has since evolved into what we know today as Native American Heritage Month. This month is dedicated to the first people of this nation who have been oppressed and ostracized for decades. Recognizing their struggles, we now seek to uplift and celebrate Native American lives, their traditions, music, and culture. Remember to always respect others regardless of their background. If you are interested in learning more about Native American Heritage Month or Native History, please visit the sites below:

Thank you for your support. OLLI has been successful in the last two years because of all of you!


What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMU's 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.