Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke seeks to engage the minds, elevate the spirit and foster the wellbeing of our members through a wide range of educational programs and opportunities for volunteer service and social activities. We embrace Duke University’s commitment to community service and lifelong learning through our collaborative work with academic and professional groups, retirement communities, various research projects on aging and other institutes for learning in retirement.

We are a learning community of more than 2,400 members. Some of our members grew up in Durham, but many have moved here from all over the country. We have a wide range of interests and passions and enjoy attending lectures and performances on campus. 

We offer more than 400 courses annually that conform to an arts and sciences curriculum and in addition to a number of courses that include fitness, cooking and hands on arts.


Our courses conform to an arts and sciences curriculum and are scheduled by a fifty-member curriculum committee, on the basis of member requests, the expertise of class leaders, variety, and balance.  OLLI instructors are a mix of peer teachers, professors from Duke and nearby universities, graduate and postdoctural students, independent scholars, and community experts.

OLLI classes do not have tests, grades or educational requirements, and therefore exemplify “learning for the love of it.” Participation is essential, ranging from keeping up with assigned readings and contributing to class discussion, to sharing the results of one’s own research.  Most classes are held either in The Bishop’s House on Duke’s East Campus or in the Education Building at Judea Reform Congregation (JRC) on Cornwallis Road in Durham. Classes typically meet once per week for 1 ½ hours; class times are usually 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:15 pm. Fall and winter term classes generally last 10 weeks; spring term classes last 6 weeks.  Please check the detailed course descriptions for exceptions.

If you have an idea for a class or know of someone who would make a great OLLI teacher, please contact Chris McLeod at chris.mcleod@duke.edu.

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There are no courses open for enrollment at this time.

There are no courses open for enrollment at this time.

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Membership & Registration

You must be a member of OLLI to take classes and attend social activities. Becoming a member of OLLI is easy. You can join online - annual membership dues are $35 (payable when you first sign up for courses during the school year). Memberships are good for the academic year. If you purchased a membership during Spring 2018 registration, your membership is good until June 30, 2019. If you do not have a current membership or are a brand new member, our new 2019-2020 membership is available starting March 1, 2019 and is good through June 30, 2020. Membership dues are nonrefundable.

All courses are priced individually. The prices are listed in the course descriptions with the specific dollar amount (e.g., "Fee: $90").

There are several ways to purchase an OLLI at Duke Membership:

Automatically during registration

If you have been a member, but your membership has expired, our online registration system will automatically add a new membership to your cart when you enroll in courses.

By phone 

If you have never been an OLLI member, we encourage you to purchase your first membership by phone.  Call our registration office Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, EST at 919-684-6259 or at 1-866-edu-Duke.

From this website

Click on this link to be sent to the proper page:
2019 - 2020 Membership (available March 1, 2019)

By mail or in person

The OLLI catalog also contains a membership and registration form.

You can deliver the form and your $35 check made payable to Duke University to the Bishop's House or you can mail them to OLLI at Duke, Box 90700, Durham, NC 27708.


Registration opens at 9:00am on Thursday, March 28 (for Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues classes) & Friday, March 29 (for Wed, Thurs, Fri classes).

There are many ways to register.

1.    Online Registration: Duke Continuing Studies’ website makes it easy for you to register! Go to www.learnmore.duke.edu, click on “Student Login,” enter your registration user name and password, and then click “Continue.” Close to 90% of OLLI members register online because it is fastest way to register and it increases the likelihood that you will get your first choice classes.

  • Search Courses Link: The most direct way to find your course is to go to learnmore.duke.edu, click on the link “Search Courses” located on the second horizontal menu at the far right, and enter either the four-digit course number or a portion of the name. Click on the link to the course, click on the “Add to Cart” button, and follow steps to checkout. 


  • By Day of the Week or by Category: Go to learnmore.duke.edu, click on “Osher Lifelong Learning,” click the down-triangle labelled “Show” under “Courses,” and click on the tab “View by day” or “View by category.” Click on the course title to get to the course page, click on “Add to Cart,” and follow steps to checkout.


  • Search Box: You may also enter the course number or part of the title into the search box that appears on every page at the top right, under the shopping cart symbol. This will search the entire site and may also retrieve results from the .pdf version of the course catalog. Click on the appropriate link for the course, click on “Add to Cart,” and follow steps to checkout. Please note: Since this is a Google search box refreshed by Google, it may not have the most up-to-date information.
Registration Opening

OLLI members registering for classes held on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will register on day one of Registration – Thursday, March 28.

OLLI members registering for classes held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will register on day two of Registration – Friday, March 29. 

Registration will open at 9 am both days.

Registration Event:

If you need assistance registering online, we will provide on-site registration support at The Bishop House on Thursday, March 28, from 9:00am to 12:00pm (for Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues classes) & Friday, March 29, from 9:00am to 12:00pm (for Wed, Thurs, Fri classes). We will have trained OLLI volunteer mentors with computers to assist you. You must have your registration User Name and Password to register. If you have forgotten these, you must be able to access your home e-mail from the computers onsite. 

Phone Registrations:

If you would like to register by phone, you may call the registration office (919-684-6259) any time after 9:00am on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29. Please do not ask to register for classes prior to this date. Members will be registered in the order calls are received. If your call goes to voicemail because of heavy call volume, leave a message; a registration member will contact you as soon as possible in the order calls are received. Please do not leave multiple messages, since these only slow down the registration team.

Paper Registrations:

You still have the option of registering using the form in the catalog (see reverse side). Please deliver or send your form to the Bishop’s House no sooner than Wednesday, March 27, and they will be processed on Registration Day (s) in the order received. Please note: no checks will be accepted from persons using the paper form as they will be invoiced after registration. If you prefer to use a credit card, you will need to register online or by phone.

Refund Policy

Requests for refunds for dropped courses must be received by the end of the first week of classes. After that time, no refunds will be issued except in the event of an emergency, at the discretion of OLLI at Duke staff. There will be a $20 service charge per course dropped. If a course is cancelled by OLLI at Duke, no charge will be incurred by members. Please note: Membership dues are nonrefundable.


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Activities & Calendar

Activities are an integral part of the OLLI program, providing opportunities to learn and socialize outside the classroom. If you have general questions or suggestions for activities, call Kathy Parrish at 919-681-3476. If you want to find out more about any of the listed groups, please contact the coordinator for that activity.

OLLI Instructor's Appreciation Reception
OLLI Instructors' Appreciation Reception on Sunday, April 28 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

  • April 28, 2019, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at The Hill House, 900 South Duke Street
  • The deadline to register is April 25, 2019
  • No Cost
  • RSVP Here

OLLI Volunteer Appreciation Event
OLLI Volunteer Appreciation Event on Tuesday, May 14 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

  • May 14, 2019, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm in the Levin Social Hall at Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W Cornwallis Rd, Durham, NC 27705
  • The deadline to register is May 9, 2019
  • No Cost
  • RSVP Here 

Big Red Dance Project
Big Red Dance Project event on Sunday May 12, 2019 at 5:00 pm

  • Sunday May 12, 2019 at 5:00 pm at the Durham Arts Council, 120 Morris Street, Durham NC
  • Parking: People's Security Building
  • Deadline to Purchase: May 8, 2019
  • Cost: $12.00

Tickets are limited. No OLLI membership required.
Register HERE beginning April 29, 2019.

Book Group

This informal group reads contemporary literature and meets on Monday of every month (1/14; 2/11; 3/11) at 3:15pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 639 Old Chapel Hill Rd. For more information, please contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com or 919-416-0755.

January Book: “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen
February Book: “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrick Backman
March ‘Never let me Go” by K. Ishiguro 
April “Pachinko” by M. Lee
May “Warlight” by M. Ondaatje
June “The 6th Extinction” by E. Kolbert (this meeting will take place at Westminster P. C.)

Craft Group
It’s time to dig out that unfinished project from the back of the closet. Knitting, quilting, crocheting, sewing . . . whatever. All are welcome. The group meets every Monday at 3:15pm at the Durham Senior Center.  For more information, please contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com or 919-416-0755.

International Folk Dance
Join us for a fun way to get exercise, both physical and mental, and improve your balance. The folk dances we practice are done in a line or circle (no partner is needed) and are low impact (not highly strenuous). Most of the dances originated in Eastern Europe. Our ongoing class meets on Tuesdays, 1:30–2:45pm, at Croasdaile Village Retirement Community. Newcomers are welcome at any time. There is no charge. Please contact coordinator Judy Stafford at 919-383-7172 or judy.stafford@alumni.duke.edu for more information.

Language Tables 
La Table Française se réunit le mardi de midi à 13 heures dans l’atélier à “The Forest at Duke Retirement Center.” En ce moment, le groupe est complet,et il y a une liste d’attente. Si vous parlez français couramment et vous voulez que nous y mettions votre nom, envoyez un mail à Emily Lees (emilylees@bellsouth.net) ou à George Entenman (olli@entenman.net). Les résidents de la “Forest” qui parlent français sont toujours bienvenus. Nous sommes heureux aussi de répondre à vos questions. Spanish Table meets 12:45–2:00 on the third Friday of each month (September-April) at local Hispanic-themed restaurants.We welcome Spanish speakers from all levels to join in practice of conversational Spanish. Meeting locations are published in the Spotlight each month. Please contact Margaret Riley (mrileync@gmail.com) if you are interested in joining the group.

Mac Computer Users Group
Mac users will gather for Q&A and short presentations on topics of interest. The group will meet periodically at a day, time, and place to be announced. Coordinators: Mary Jo Fickle, fickle5@aol.com, and Susan Eure, asure@bellsouth.net

Meet and Greet
New to OLLI at Duke? You are invited to join us for a morning Meet & Greet program hosted by our Membership Committee, Saturday, April 13, 10:30 am, at the Bishop's House. See page 3 in the Fall 2018 catalog for details.

Mystery Book Club
Whether you HAVE a clue, or not, this book club may be for you.  We meet once a month in Room 7 of the Care Building at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Rd, Durham, NC, to discuss mystery books our members have designated worthy and interesting.  We have read and discussed books by authors Ann Cleeve, Arnaldur Indrioason, Ruth Rendell & Ausam Zehant to name a few.  We are an adventurist group looking for new and exciting authors. For more information, please contact Madeline “Maddy” Kalstein, madkalstein@gmail.com.

Science Book Club 
We read and discuss books of substance on topics ranging from biology, evolution, and the physical sciences to medicine, the environment, and biographies of famous scientists. You do not have to have a science degree to participate, and no registration is required. You must be an OLLI member to participate in this book club. The group usually meets the first Thursday of the month at 3:15pm at The Bishop’s House. Coordinator: Dan Oldman, daniel.oldman@gmail.com or 919-544-2686. 

Retirement Transition Group
This informal drop-in group is for OLLI members who are going through transitions in retirement and perhaps experiencing some challenges. The group meeting provides an opportunity to adjust our mindset to this new phase of life, raise awareness of shared concerns, offer ideas that have worked, recommend resources and connect with other OLLI members who are going through the same experiences. People can drop in at any of the meetings. There is no charge. The group meets on the second Friday afternoon of the month - time and location to be announced. To learn more and to be put on a mailing list for meeting reminders, contact Corinne Schillin at cschillin@yahoo.com or 919-537-8450.

Community Engagement Special Interest Group (CE SIG)
The Community Engagement Special Interest Group (CE SIG), launched in Fall 2017, creates vehicles for sustained and meaningful engagement in the Durham community for OLLI at Duke members. We address key needs and issues identified by the Durham community, while facilitating a sense of connection and shared purpose among OLLI members. A special focus is small cohorts of OLLI members working on projects identified by community partners.

We welcome new members who share our vision and have creative ideas, time and energy to devote to our efforts; those currently engaged in the Durham community; those who were involved but recently retired or seeking renewed engagement following a hiatus; those who were active in other places but are new to community engagement. For more information, contact Virginia Lee, CE SIG Coordinator, vlee31@yahoo, 919-314-7071.  



Semester Calendar for Current Members

When Event
Thursday, March 28 Registration for Spring courses begins at 9:00 am
Friday, March 29 Registration for Spring courses begins at 9:00 am
Monday, April 15 OLLI Spring classes begin
Friday, May 24 Last day for most OLLI Spring classes
Tuesday, August 6 Registration for Fall courses begin at 9:00 am
Wednesday, August 7 Registration for Fall courses begin at 9:00 am
Monday, September 9 Most OLLI Fall classes begin
Tuesday, September 30 No classes at JRC - Rosh Hashanah
Tuesday, October 8 No classes at JRC after 3 pm - Yom Kippur
Wednesday, October 9 No classes at JRC - Yom Kippur
Monday - Friday, November 25-29 Thanksgiving Break - no OLLI classes
Friday, December 6 Last day for most Fall classes
Winter 2020
Tuesday, December 3 Registration for Winter courses begins at 9:00 am
Wednesday, December 4 Registration for Winter courses begins at 9:00 am
Monday, January 6 OLLI Winter classes begin
Monday, January 20 Martin Luther King JR Day - no classes
Monday - Friday, February 17-21 OLLI Winter Break - no classes
Monday, March 23 Last day for most Winter classes



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Volunteer Opportunities

OLLI at Duke relies heavily on the volunteer efforts of members to keep the program running.  Members teach classes, coordinate lecture series, lead small-group discussions, organize activities and volunteer projects, serve on the Board of Advisors and committees, act as class hosts, make coffee, and volunteer for all the tasks that make us an exemplary organization.  Please read the bulletin boards, e-mails, and newsletters to find out about opportunities to take advantage of one of the many opportunities listed or to suggest a new program or activities.  Opportunities to volunteer are posted on the member website, in the Spotlight (our e-newsletter) and on bulletin boards.

Class Assistants
Class members act as assistants to the instructors, helping to ensure that announcements are made, equipment is set up, and handouts are distributed.  Class Assistants are essential to the smooth functioning of OLLI at Duke and enjoy the benefit of becoming better acquainted with both faculty and fellow class members.  Training will be provided!  If you would like to volunteer to be the class host in one or more of your classes, contact Kathy Parrish at 919-681-3476 to let her know which instructor you would like to host. 

Board Service
We welcome both new and longtime members to become part of the leadership of OLLI at Duke.  Serving on the Board of Advisors, either in an elected office, as an at-large advisor, or as a committee chair, will allow you to use your talents, contribute to the success of this dynamic organization, and be part of many facets of the OLLI at Duke community.

Activities Coordination
Even if you are not ready to coordinate activities for an entire year, you may want to contribute by organizing a trip so that our members can learn more about a favorite North Carolina attraction; members have coordinated trips to the Duke Primate Center, the North Carolina Zoo, the potteries of Seagrove, North Carolina, and the wineries of the Yadkin Valley.  We need people to do everything from creating lecture series to pouring wine.  We always need help with convocations and picnics.  These activities are great ways to meet new people and learn more about the organization.


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Members & Leadership

Who Belongs to OLLI at Duke?

All adults with a passion for learning are welcome. Our members include those who have never completed high school and retired school teachers, native North Carolinians and newcomers, professionals and homemakers. We believe that such a rich and diverse mix of backgrounds and interests make the classroom discussion even more interesting. Our common goal is deepening our understanding of the world around us through study and discussion.

We invite you to join our learning community. OLLI at Duke is a cooperative venture that relies on the contributions and participation, both in class and out, of every member. Our members teach classes, coordinate lecture series, lead small-group discussions, serve on the Board of Advisors and committees, act as class assistants, help with record-keeping and administration, make coffee, and volunteer for many other tasks, both large and small.

OLLI at Duke, headquartered in The Bishop’s House on Duke’s East Campus, is an organization where lifelong learners can enjoy daytime courses, good conversation, and the companionship of peers.  In this relaxed and congenial atmosphere, OLLI at Duke affords an opportunity to rekindle former interests and discover new ones in classes without papers or tests, where members have in common a passion for learning and all the benefits that come from keeping mind and body healthy, active, and engaged.  In addition to the programming available exclusively to our members, being part of the Duke community provides access to a wealth of intellectual and cultural activities.

Founded in 1977 as a joint venture of Duke University Continuing Education and the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, DILR/OLLI has grown from its 42 original members to over 2,300 each year, with a curriculum of over 130 classes each semester.


OLLI at Duke operates under the auspices of Duke Continuing Studies and Summer Session.  We are a member-led organization with our own Board of Advisors, bylaws and committees.  OLLI at Duke is managed by a Director and an Assistant to the Director, who are employees of Duke Continuing Studies.

The OLLI Board of Advisors consists of the President and Vice President, who serve one-year terms, six At-Large Advisors, who serve three-year terms, and committee chairs who serve one‑year terms, and the Past President. The Director and the Assistant to the Director are ex‑officio members of the board.  

We are always looking for people to help with events and committees.  If you would like to talk to someone about volunteering at OLLI, or if you have ideas for a new activity or improvements to an existing program, please call 919-684-2703.

2018-2019 Officers

(one-year term, elected at annual meeting)

President: Alex Vaux
Vice President: Vacant
Past President: Ginny Knight

At-Large Advisors

(three-year term)

Term Ending 2019: Dick Chady, Jonathan House
Term Ending 2020: Marion Jervay, Stuart Kaplan

Committee Chairs

(one-year term, appointed by President)

Board Development: Vacant
Communications: Aline Dawson
Curriculum: Beth Anderson
Instructor Relations: Mike Bahnaman
Membership: Rosemary Dineen
IT: Howard Koslow
Recording Secretary: Mike Bahnaman
Space: Peter Blaufeux


Director: Chris McLeod
Assistant to the Director:  Kathy Parrish
Representatives at Judea Reform Education Building: Beth Bowling, Susanna Chabinak-Uhlig, Jo Ann Dubberley

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Staying in Touch

OLLI at Duke keeps members informed and connected to the program in a number of ways.

Members can always check out the latest news and find flyers and sign-up sheets for groups and activities on our bulletin boards, located at The Bishop’s House and the Judea Reform Education Building.

OLLI at Duke's staff, instructors, class assistants and leaders send out occasional e-mails to the membership to inform them of breaking news.  Please contact Chris McLeod at 919-684-2703 or at chris.mcleod@duke.edu  to make sure that we have your e-mail address if you want to receive these notices.


The Spotlight is an online newsletter issued monthly to members via email. If you are an OLLI member and currently do not receive the Spotlight, please click here to sign up. (http://www.olliatduke.org/extension-to-home.html#signupspotlight)

Member Website

OLLI at Duke maintains a members-only website (olliatduke.org) designed to keep members up to date on available courses, scheduled events, activities, and items of interest. Contact Kathy Parrish (919-681-3476) for the password.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to my class?

See the Directions section below for sites where we hold most OLLI classes.

Most classes are held at The Bishop’s House on the Duke East Campus or at the Education Building at the Judea Reform Congregation on Cornwallis Road. Our computer classes are held at the Smith Warehouse, Bay 6. Directions for classes held at other sites in the community are for the most part listed as part of the course description.

Where do I park for my OLLI classes?

All OLLI at Duke members are eligible to receive a parking pass that will permit them to park at the Bishop’s House, at Judea Reform Congregation (JRC), and certain other locations. Each facility has individual parking passes available to pickup.

The Bishop’s House: There are a limited number of parking spaces around The Bishop’s House, including three handicapped spaces. The OLLI parking permit will be provided in each classroom on the first day of classes at the Bishop’s House and must be kept on your front dashboard when you park at The Bishop’s House. Failure to display the parking permit may result in $40 ticket from Duke Parking and Transportation. Your parking permit also allows you to park in the EAE (East Commuter) lot on Epworth lane opposite Trinity Avenue.

When your class ends, please exit Bishop House promptly and carefully to allow those arriving for the next class to park and enter, eliminating congestion for both the students and instructors. BE CAREFUL backing into and out of spaces, helping to avoid accidents; if you do accidently hit another car in the parking lot PLEASE let the OLLI Office know of the incident in fairness to the persons vehicle you damaged.

To use the handicapped spots, you need an official North Carolina handicapped parking tag. Campus parking restrictions are strictly enforced with a $100 fine.

Your OLLI parking permit is also valid for the lot at Asbury United Methodist Church on Markham Avenue and Sedgefield Street. City parking restrictions limit us to two-hour parking on the side streets adjacent to East Campus.

Judea Reform Congregation Education Building: Parking is in the lot adjacent to the building. It is plentiful, well-marked and well-surfaced.  You will need an OLLI parking permit on your dashboard to park at JRC. To use the handicapped spaces, you will need an official North Carolina handicapped parking tag. Please do not park in spaces designated for members of the congregation, or in spots designated for JRC staff. The JRC buildings and grounds are a non-smoking campus.

Smith Warehouse: Parking is available on both the north and south sides of the building. Registered members for the courses in the Computer Lab will receive a parking pass from their instructors that contain a bar code that is read by the scanner at each parking gate. The parking passes will be distributed either by email to print at the students home or handed out upon arrive to the class.

Westminster Presbyterian Church: Members should park in the lower of the two lots as you drive into the campus. Please do not park in the Nursery School parking lot that is behind the building.

For classes held at sites in the community: Please check the course description in the online or print catalog for specific guidelines on parking.

Do you hold class if the weather is bad or there is a community emergency?


OLLI at Duke goes by the Durham Public Schools closing/delay/early release schedule for reasons related to weather:

  • If Durham Public Schools close then all OLLI classes are cancelled
  • If Durham Public Schools are delayed then all OLLI 9:00 am classes are cancelled.
  • If Durham Public Schools close early then all 3:15 pm classes are cancelled.

Listen for details about the Durham schools on WTVD (Channel 11), WDNC (620 AM) or WCHL (1360 AM).  You can also check out the WRAL TV website.

Please check your email before you leave for class, since it is possible your instructor may have cancelled class, due to his/her inability to travel.

Where can I get lunch between OLLI classes?

Options at The Bishop’s House include bringing a brown-bag lunch, using facilities such as the Marketplace in the nearby Duke East Campus Union, and exploring nearby restaurants in the Ninth Street area.  At Judea Reform, you may bring a lunch and eat in the commons area.  Please note: We comply with the dietary guidelines at Judea—no pork, no shellfish, and no meat and dairy on the same plate. Staff at Judea also maintains a list of restaurants in the area.

Are OLLI facilities accessible?

Duke University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please call the OLLI office at 919-681-3476 in advance of your participation or visit.  The first floor of The Bishop’s House (where we hold all OLLI classes and the OLLI administrative staff works) is accessible and includes one accessible rest room.  All facilities at Judea Reform Congregation Education Building are accessible. 

How do I request a catalog?

Click on this link: REQUEST A CATALOG, select the OLLI catalog you wish to order, and click on Submit.

(Note: If you already have a user account, we recommend that you first go to Student Login to retrieve your username and password before making the request.  If you are new to OLLI, make the request, and follow the prompts to create your user account.)

How do I add, drop, or get a refund for an OLLI class?

Please contact Kathy Parrish at 919-681-3476 to find out more about dropping, adding, and refunds. Requests for refunds for dropped courses must be received by the end of the first week of classes (January 11, 2019), or within the first week of your first class meeting. After that time, no refunds will be issued except in the event of an emergency, at the discretion of OLLI at Duke staff. There will be a $20 service charge per course dropped. If a course is cancelled by OLLI at Duke, no charge will be incurred by members. Please note: Membership dues are nonrefundable.

How long does my membership last? 

Membership follows the academic calendar and runs from September through June.  Those who join for the short spring term (beginning in April) will be enrolled for the entire following academic year.

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OLLI classes are held in a variety of locations throughout the area. Here are the adresses:

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