Liz Black
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

KU’s Osher Institute, Kansas State University announce spring courses and events

Mon, 01/27/2014

LAWRENCE — The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kansas in partnership with Kansas State University will offer six courses in Manhattan this spring, with topics ranging from World War II to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Most courses are offered offcampus at various host community locations to accommodate ease of parking. The noncredit, enrichment short courses are offered as two-hour sessions, generally for three consecutive weeks. Three of this spring’s courses are at Meadowlark Hills, which has partnered with KU and KSU to sponsor courses on their campus. The public is welcome to attend.

“The ‘Days of Our Lives’ through Genealogy” will begin Monday, Feb. 10, and continue Feb. 17 and 24, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at Blue Valley Memorial Methodist Church, 835 Church Ave. Participants will learn how to research their family histories through sound genealogical processes, including how to use online sources, create timelines, preserve keepsakes and conduct oral histories.The course will be taught by Jill Frese, who will use her own experience uncovering family history to bring the study of genealogy alive.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Distinctly American Fairy Tale,” will be Feb. 12, 19 and 26, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Meadowlark Hills Community Room, 2121 Meadowlark Road. Taught by Clint Stueve, executive director of the Oz Museum in Wamego, the course will examine how L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books have been inextricably linked with our culture since the first book appeared in 1900. He will cover stage and film adaptations, including MGM’s 1939 film starring Judy Garland.

“World War II: The Conflicts in Europe and Asia” follows the popularity of Robert Smith’s fall course on World War I. The course begins Feb. 27 and continues March 6 and 13, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., at the Manhattan Arts Center, 1520 Poyntz Ave. Smith is director of the Fort Riley Museum and has published numerous articles on military history.

“Children on the Move: The Orphan Train Era, 1854-1929” meets March 19, 26 and April 2, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at Meadowlark Hills Community Room, and is taught by Amanda Wahlmeier, curator of the Orphan Train Museum in Concordia. She will cover the living conditions for orphans in New York City to the decision to place children in homes in the Midwest, and trace how they fared — some adoptive parents treated them as their own, while others viewed them as little more than “cheap labor.”

“Ike: Kansan, Soldier, President” explores the important role of the greatest Kansan of the greatest generation and how his character was shaped by his Kansas values. It is offered April 9, 16 and 30, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at Meadowlark Hills Community Room. Instructor Roy Bird is the author of “Little Ike: The Abilene Boyhood of Dwight D. Eisenhower.” As a separate special event, a trip to the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abilene is planned for May.

“Hail to the Chief: The American Presidency from Washington to Obama” will be April 22, 29 and May 6, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 2121 Blue Hills Road. The course traces the political principles and events that have shaped the presidency. It will be taught by William McKale, retired director the Fort Riley Museum and longtime student of American politics. Participants will have the chance to view his extensive collection of memorabilia from political campaigns from the 1820s to the present.

In addition to the above six courses, there will be a special evening event from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 1 at Meadowlark Hills Community Room. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, former Poet Laureate of Kansas, presents “Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and a Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds,” based on her recently released book. She will profile two extraordinary Kansas men whose stories of survival demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit. Book signing and refreshments will follow.

For the first time in Manhattan, Osher is offering a day-trip special event on Friday, May 2. A charter coach will take members to tour the new World War II exhibit at the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abilene. The day includes the famous family-style chicken dinner at the Brookville Hotel. More details are available at

“This spring’s theme is Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Growing,” said Jim Peters, the Institute’s director. “It is also the name of our first annual fundraising campaign, launched in November.”

After two years of rapid growth, the Institute is eligible in 2014 for a $1 million endowed grant from the Osher Foundation in San Francisco.

“We are close to meeting the last of seven of the Foundation’s benchmarks, a robust annual fundraising campaign that raises a minimum of $15,000 per year,” said Peters. “The response of our members has been gratifying. We’re getting close, but we’re not there yet.”

Members of the alumni associations of KU and KSU are eligible for a $10 discount on the first course fee of $40. Other participating alumni associations include Washburn University, Ottawa University, Hutchinson Community College and Hesston College.

A unit of KU Continuing Education, the Osher Institute develops enrichment programs focusing on those 50 and over but welcomes lifelong learners of all ages. The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco selected KU in 2004 as a site for this nationally acclaimed program to share the rich resources of the university with the general public. In 2010, KU and KSU announced a historic collaboration between the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU and the Division of Continuing Education at KSU to extend Osher courses and KSU resources to the Manhattan area.

The institute now has more than 2,700 members statewide and this spring offers 68 courses and 12 special events in 32 sites in 17 cities.

For more information including fees and discounts, or to enroll, visit or call toll free (877) 404-5823. 

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