Main Street Waterbury
- Page 13
OLLI at UConn: Where Learning Never Retires - Lifelong
Fiona de Merell
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

UConn Waterbury is the home of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a program offering courses, lectures, and special events to older adults who want to engage socially and intellectually with their peers as teachers and learners. OLLI is open to anyone aged 50 or above. UConn Waterbury’s location also provides opportunities for OLLI members to benefit from the community.

In summer 2018, many of OLLI’s classes will draw on our diverse downtown for inspiration in creative writing, painting, and photography.

It’s been a wonderful year for OLLI at UConn. We continued to expand our intergenerational learning experiences, increased our media presence, started new clubs, and offered new courses.

OLLI has inspired countless discussions about the nature of family, the universe, history, language, culture, and religion.

We create art, write stories, and enhance physical and emotional well-being. One of our much-loved members says, “Age is just an attitude”. We couldn’t agree more – and we love seeing every OLLI member break aging-stereotypes every day. By participating in OLLI’s activities, our members are contributing to the health and success of the entire community.

OLLI is connected to the Waterbury community in many ways. This year, members gave their time and energy to committees, food drives, presenting and attending courses, growing fresh produce for Waterbury soup kitchens and food pantries, and holding special events for everyone. One of the highlights of this year was our Spring Open House: We enjoyed record-breaking attendance for our keynote speaker, Dr. Gina Barreca, 2017 Reed Fellow, and for a UConn/OLLI collaboration hosting the acclaimed Irish author, Colm Tóibín, at the campus.

Committees and clubs add an invaluable element to the OLLI experience, and are at the heart of OLLI's social engagement component. The OLLI Gardening Project, led by Nunzio De Filippis, creates a more sustainable environment through agriculture, and is remarkable example of community support. The planting and upkeep of the garden, at Fulton Park in Waterbury, is maintained solely by OLLI volunteers. In December 2017, the Project received a generous $6,000 grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation, demonstrating its value to the community. We are also proud to be associated with our many Waterbury partners, including The Palace Theater, Shakesperience, and WATR.

We believe in creating a welcoming and supportive environment for everyone. One of our members sums up the OLLI experience like this:

“What a joy to be able to get up, get dressed, and get out – to be able to meet my fellow seniors, and best of all, to be able to choose a topic and sit in on a course, just because you want to learn about the things that interest you. The joy of learning!” Marion Varanelli

Dr. William J. Pizzuto, UConn Waterbury Campus Director is committed to supporting the campus’ unique relationship with downtown: "The character of UConn Waterbury, and OLLI at UConn, is shaped partly by our location. Our access to the city gives us unique opportunities to engage with, and learn from, the community on our doorstep.

We are proud of our role in educational development, and to create an environment of excellence in the heart of the city.”

For more information about OLLI at UConn, call 203-2369924 or go to