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WMU offers new learning opportunities for older adults

Dec. 6, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Older adults in the Kalamazoo area will have a new opportunity to stay intellectually active and socially engaged when Western Michigan University launches its Lifelong Learning Academy this spring.

WMU's academy will be similar to academies already established at numerous universities across the country and around the world that provide learning initiatives for older adults. An open house to introduce the local academy and upcoming spring session has been set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, in the west lobby of Walwood Hall. Refreshments will be served.

The Lifelong Learning Academy will have a diverse repertoire of non-credit educational programs specifically designed to address the interests of the adult learner.

Ongoing programming will encompass international and enrichment topics, plus areas such as the arts and humanities, current events, the environment, health, history, and science and technology. In addition, there will be a rich and evolving array of courses as well as interest groups, lectures, special events and presentations, and travel programs and classes.

Courses will be geared toward those age 50 and up and will focus on providing intellectual and cultural stimulation, promoting personal growth, and fostering social engagement in an informal, lively learning atmosphere.

Plans call for the WMU academy's inaugural session to begin March 14. The session will feature two-hour daytime classes offered weekly for two to four weeks, depending on the subject. Instructors will be drawn from current and former WMU faculty members as well as local community members who are experts in particular fields or have strong interests in selected areas.

Although the academy is a membership-based educational opportunity, anyone with a passion for learning may become a member. There are no membership requirements, such as needing previous college experience, and no tests or grading--just learning for the joy of it.

Members pay a nominal annual fee, which is being waived for the inaugural spring session, and modest tuition for the courses they select. However, additional fees may be required for class materials, texts or travel.

A volunteer advisory board has been formed to lead the academy. It is operating under the auspices of WMU's Extended University Programs division, and in concert with educational and community organizations in the Kalamazoo area.

Co-chairing the board are D. Terry Williams, WMU professor emeritus and former chair of theatre, and Ruth Heinig, WMU professor emerita of communication. The membership includes other retired college and university faculty members, community residents, and WMU staff members.

The advisory board's curriculum committee has been working since early fall to develop and schedule classes for the initial session. Additional committees will be formed to assist in areas such as membership, events and resource development.

For more information, visit the WMU Lifelong Learning Academy online. Information also may be obtained by calling WMU's Extended University Programs at (269) 387-4200 and speaking with Jeorge Fierro, director of outreach and special programs, or Cheri Lay, director of the Office of Lifelong Learning and Education.

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Open house set for new Lifelong Learning Academy

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400