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Archive for Friday, December 20, 2013

Osher Institute classes will stay in building on St. Andrews

December 20, 2013

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Lawrence classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a unit of Kansas University's Continuing Education program, will stay where they are.

After November's announcement that Continuing Education would move to the KU Edwards campus this spring, the location of Lawrence's Osher classes were uncertain. But this week KU administrators announced to staff that classes would stay in the building at 1515 St. Andrews Dr. in Lawrence.

Osher provides educational opportunities for people over 50. With courses throughout the state, the institute serves more than 2,745 people a year in Kansas, nearly half of them in Lawrence. For next year, the institute will offer 22 classes on everything from Italian civilization to pastel painting.

The uncertainty had caused concern among many fans of the institute's local programming. Jim Peters, director of Osher, said he received dozens of emails and phone calls from loyal Osher students. He also said a private fundraising campaign for Osher had stalled once the announcement came that Continuing Education was moving to Johnson County.

"Once they learn that we're staying, we're hopeful that it will pick up again," Peters said.

David Cook, KU vice chancellor and campus executive officer for Edwards, said that no decision had ever been made to move Osher classes, but this week's decision confirmed classes would stay. "It was really kind of an easy decision," Cook said. "We've got something that's working really well."

The Continuing Education building on St. Andrews has many features meant to accommodate seniors. Unlike the KU campus, there are parking spaces close to the classrooms. Automatic doors, an elevator and a renovated conference room are all aimed at welcoming seniors.

"I think they feel comfortable," Peters said. "It's a unique venue."

With the city looking to attract more retirees, Osher might be more relevant to Lawrence than ever. The city and KU have begun discussion with private developers interested in building a new retirement community that would attract KU alumni and others back to the city. One idea floated so far is for an intergenerational community near the Rock Chalk Park sports complex.

In November, the university announced that KU Continuing Education would move to Lawrence as a way to boost professional training and meet the needs of Kansas City-area businesses. At the time, administrators said that decisions about which personnel would move from Lawrence to Edwards, when, and whether they would receive travel reimbursement were still being decided.

As of now, Cook said no decision has been made on whether Osher's offices will stay in Lawrence or move to Edwards.

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