Speakers’ Series Spurs Class Topics

Presentation Hot topics in Curriculum, National Conference, April 2014

Jerri McLain, President, OLLI at UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville

OLLI at UAH marked twenty years of lifelong learning in 2014 with a series of speaking events. One of our speakers was a Vanderbilt University research physician, who spoke about the application of robotic technology to aid impaired individuals who had lost limbs. Another event, [speaker with reception following] entitled “Huntsville Past, Present and Future” featured a proclamation by the Mayor of Huntsville, a historical presentation, and a look to the future by a city planner.

The third presentation was by Emmy-award winning Dr. Doug Phillips, 30-year host of “Discovering Alabama”, broadcast on the Alabama Public Television Network. The fourth speaker, Southern award-winning author Terry Kay of Georgia, whose book TO DANCE WITH THE WHITE DOG was made into a movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, also conducted a writer’s workshop for OLLI members. Each event was supported by Osher Foundation grant monies, donations by OLLI at UAH members,

and sponsors who underwrote a portion of expenses.

Our intent, beyond celebrating 20 years of wonderful lifelong learning, has been to increase membership and foster a higher awareness in the community about OLLI at UAH.

Besides accomplishing those goals, a great benefit came when classes for Winter and Spring term were generated from two of these speakers and their works.

DVDs from the “Discovering Alabama” series formed the basis for an 8-week class coordinated by an OLLI volunteer well versed in the out-of-doors. The class viewed a feature video about the rich resources of Alabama, minerals, rivers and waterfalls, state parks, the state’s wildlife and, afterward, participated in discussion, with further detail and a look at maps of the state. As many of our OLLI members grew up in other parts of the country, they and the rest of us found it useful to become more familiar with what is available in our state of Alabama.

Author Terry Kay’s books were read and reviewed in another successful class during the Winter. As a special addition, the movie “To Dance With the White Dog” was shown to class members as well as a wider audience of other OLLI members, who not only enjoyed the movie but popcorn, too. Kay’s writer’s workshop drew an audience from the class and from others in OLLI who are interested in learning how to write. Guest speakers enlivened the class by expanding upon the historical setting of Kay’s books.

A continuous goal of OLLI at UAH is to provide stimulating subject matter in three terms of classes and a short term in the summer. This year we found a speakers’ series an effective way to prompt that action.

# #