Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

June 2, 2020 – OLLI at Duke is offering courses/activities online on the Zoom platform, through December 31, 2020. Announcements regarding Winter Term will be made mid- October. read more »

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 2,570 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 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 thirty-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 postdoctoral 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 the curriculum committee at curriculum@olliatduke.org.

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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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You must be a member of OLLI to take classes and attend social activities. Becoming a member of OLLI is easy. Annual membership dues are $45 (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 2020 registration, your membership is good until June 30, 2021. If you do not have a current membership or are a brand new member, our new 2020-2021 membership is available starting March 1, 2020 and is good through June 30, 2021. 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 two 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.
  • From this website: On March 1, 2020,  click on this link to be sent to the proper page: 2020 - 2021 Membership (active on July 1, 2020 and good through June 30, 2021).    Note:  if you have previously purchased a membership between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020, your membership is still active through June 30, 2021.  
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Online Learning Fall Term registration:

OLLI members registering for classes held on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will register on day one of Registration – Tuesday, September 1 at 9:00 am.

OLLI members registering for classes held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will register on day two of Registration – Wednesday, September 2 at 9:00 am.

Note: Online Learning class capacity is very large for many of our courses, so we do not anticipate a wait lists for these offerings. For that reason, it's not critical to log on exactly at 9 am to register, unless you are interested in registering for some of the classes with limited enrollment.

Duke Continuing Studies’ website makes it easy for you to register! Registering online is the fastest and most efficient way to register for a course. There are now several ways to find your course.

  • 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 labeled “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. (Do not include section numbers when searching). 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.


Members who register online may pay with credit card at time of registration.  

Refund Policy

Requests for refunds for dropped courses must be received WITHIN FIVE BUSINESS DAYS following the first class for that course. 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, Special Events and Workshops are nonrefundable.

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Activities & Special Interest Groups

Activities are an integral part of the OLLI program, providing opportunities to learn and socialize outside the classroom. For questions regarding Special Events or Workshops please email olli@duke.edu.

Special Interest Groups

Activities and Special Interest Groups SIGs) are an added bonus to membership with OLLI at Duke. These groups and clubs provide opportunities to connect outside the classroom.If you want to find out more about any of the listed groups, please contact the designated coordinator for that activity.

Attention: All OLLI classes and activities have been canceled due to Covid-19. 
Please see notice. Some of our SIG's are still meeting via Zoom

Currently Meeting via Zoom:

Mystery Book Club: The club is currently meeting via Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month from 3-4:00. For more information and details about the link/password please contact Madeline “Maddy” Kalstein, madkalstein@gmail.com.

OLLI Singles: OLLI Singles club is currently meeting via Zoom on Wednesdays from 1-2:00. For more information and details about the link/password please contact the Steering Committee at olliatdukesingles@gmail.com to join our SIG.

Science Book Club: The OLLI Science Book &uoClub is meeting on Zoom at our regular first Thursday of the month at 3:15 time. The coordinator sends out an invitation a week before our meetings to our mailing list. Contact daniel.oldman@gmail.com for more information.

Foodie Field Trips: This is a ‘virtual’ SIG, organized by email and via the SIG’s website. https://foodiefieldtrip.weebly.com

SIGs that are currently on hiatus: 

Book Group: Contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com or 919-416-0755. 

Craft Group: Contact Judy Grauer at judygrauer@gmail.com or 919-416-0755. 

International Folk Dance: Contact Judy Stafford at 919-383-7172 or judy.stafford@alumni.duke.edu

French Language Tables: Contact Emily Lees (emilyjlees@gmail.com) or George Entenman (olli@entenman.net). 

Spanish Language Tables: Contact Margaret Riley (mrileync@gmail.com

Mac Computer Users Group: Contact Mary Jo Fickle, fickle5@aol.com, or Susan Eure, asure@bellsouth.net

The OLLI Public Policy Special Interest Group: Contact Larry Reed (lgreed3@gmail.com) 919-452-3896, or Jim Hollowood (jhollowood@gmail.com).

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Please read carefully as all dates have changed.

When Event
Summer Term 2020
Monday, May 11 Registration for Summer courses begins at 9:00 a.m
Monday, May 18 Online Learning Courses begin
Thursday, June 26 Online Learning Courses end
Fall 2020
Tuesday, September 1

Registration for Fall courses begin at 9:00 a.m.

-For classes held on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday

Wednesday, September 2

Registration for Winter courses begins at 9:00 a.m.

-For classes held on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday

Monday, September 14 Online Learning Classes Start
Monday, September 28 No Classes - Yom Kippur
Monday November 23 Online Learning Classes End
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Volunteer Opportunities

Opportunities during Covid-19:

Want to Interview OLLI members? Write Articles for Spotlight? Research other online learning Opportunities we can share for OLLI members?

Some of you may find you have some extra time or discover you want to be part of OLLI’s learning community during this historic moment. The Zoom programs are very staff intensive so we are finding that as a staff, we don’t have the bandwidth to do some of the things we’d like to do. Here are some opportunities to get engaged:

  • Volunteer reporters to write articles for Spotlight (interview OLLI members, and other virtual offerings of interest to OLLI members) for posting on OLLI at Duke website.
  • Volunteers to help Curriculum Committee cultivate/work with prospective instructors on course proposals and prepare for online learning.
  • Volunteers to help OLLI members 1-on-1 with Zoom technology questions and issues.

If interested, email VOLUNTEER@OLLIatDuke.org

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 assistants, 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.

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.

Are you new to OLLI at Duke?
One of the best ways to meet new people is to volunteer for the Social Activities & Hospitality Committe. Consider organizing an activity or outing to learn more about a favorite North carolina attraction; we are looking for members to coordinate trips to the Duke Lemur Center, the North Carolina Zoo, Cedar Creek Gallery or potteries of Seagrove, museums in Raleigh and wineries of the Yadkin Valley. Volunteers do everything from organizing outings to pouring wine. Extra hands are always needed to greet people at convocationand OLLI Socials. These activities are great ways to meet new people and learn more about OLLI at Duke and Durham. If you are interested, please contact cmabrons@gmail.com.

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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 2,500 each year, with a curriculum of over 140 classes each term.


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 the director at 919-684-2703.

2020-2021 Officers (one-year term, elected at annual meeting)

President: Matt Epstein
Vice President: Marion Jervay
Past President: Ginny Knight

Recording Secretary: Appointment pending

At-Large Advisors (two-year term)

Term Ending 2022: Alan Teasley, Sue Dennison
Term Ending 2021: Abdul Waheed, Bobbi Hendrix

Committee Chairs (one-year term, appointed by President)

Community Engagement: Virginia Lee
Curriculum: Beth Anderson
Instructor Relations: Ginny Knight
Information Technology: Howard Koslow
Legacy: Lisa Gabriel
Member Engagement: Beth Timson
Social Activities & Hospitality: Chris Abrons
Space: Peter Blaufeux


Director: Chris McLeod
Assistant to the Director:  Kathy Parrish
Staff Assistant: Betina Huntwork
Location Representatives: Beth Bowling, Susanna Chabinak-Uhlig, Jo Ann Dubberley, Vicki McMullin, Jay Starks

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Staying in Touch

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

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 email olli@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.

Member Website

OLLI at Duke maintains a members website (olliatduke.org) designed to keep members up to date on available courses, scheduled events, activities, and items of interest. 

Online Learning Website

In response to Covid-19, OLLI at Duke has created a site to host all the Online Learning sessions. This site provides Zoom how-to guides, Requests for assistance options, and informations on the current Online Learning term. Please click here for to vist the site.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to my class?

See the Locations 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?

Inclement Weather Policy

OLLI at Duke follows the lead of Durham Public Schools regarding Severe Weather Schedule.

  • If the Durham Public Schools are open, OLLI classes and activities will be held. 
  • If the Durham Public Schools are closed, all OLLI classes and activities are cancelled.
  • If Durham Public Schools delay opening, OLLI classes and activities that start before 10:00 am are cancelled.
  • If Durham Public Schools close early, OLLI classes and activities that begin at 3:00 pm and later are cancelled.

Please check your email before you leave for class. There may be instances where OLLI classes are in session and a particular instructor cannot travel due to weather conditions. In those cases, OLLI members can expect to receive an email from their Instructor and/or the OLLI office if their class is cancelled.

Regardless of the weather or road conditions, every OLLI member and instructor needs to make his/her own decision about whether or not it is safe to travel. Please use good judgement. Since OLLI hosts classes at sixteen different locations in the Triangle, road conditions can vary considerably.

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 email olli@duke.edu 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?

Update 4/28/2020: During the covid-19 hiatus, no requests for catalogs will be processed. Please see the member website for more information about OLLI at Duke and information on our Online Learning programming.

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

Please email Kathy Parrish at kathy.parris@duke.edu to find out more about dropping, adding, and refunds. Requests for refunds for dropped courses must be made within five business days following the 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. For more information and our refund policy, please see the registration section of this website. 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 addresses:

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