Always Learning

UM alumni Myra Shults (’64) and Kathy Mann Bartlett (’69, professor from ’11-’14) reflect on the impact the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM (MOLLI) has had on their lives.

How did you first find out about MOLLI?

Myra: A childhood friend told me about it. She doesn’t come anymore, but she got me involved with the classes they provide.

Kathy: I was still living in Washington State, and I received an email from UM Alumni [Association] that mentioned MOLLI courses. At that time, they had courses where you could bring a grandchild. So when I came to Missoula to visit, I went to those courses a couple of times with my grandchildren. When I moved here, I joined and have been taking classes ever since.

How would you describe MOLLI?

Myra: It is the most wonderful program for older people to keep involved, not only intellectually and academically, but socially.

Kathy: Well, I think Myra just said it all. We are so fortunate at UM to have professors that come and teach our courses. For us, one of the things we know about growing older is to keep on learning, keep our brains active, and keep up on our social engagement. So, MOLLI meets all of those requirements and is just a lot of fun as well.

What are some of the courses that you’re taking?

Myra: Well, every time Robert Greene teaches a course on Russia, I take it. Every time Tobin Shearer or Mehrdad Kia teach a course, I take it because they’re such great teachers. I also take various other courses in subjects that I find interesting.

Kathy: I have taken classes on art history, anthropology, geology, Russia, racism and any course that I have an interest in learning more about.

What’s new this year in MOLLI?

Myra: Every quarter, there are new courses offered. The program committee tries really hard not to be stale with what it offers.

Kathy: With a membership, members can come to our special events for free. One of the things we have coming up soon is the conductor for the Missoula Symphony, Darko Butorac, will come and give a talk about one of their concerts.

What’s your favorite thing about this program?

Myra: The people.

Kathy: It is the people. There’s so much expertise from both the professor and the others in class that we learn as much from our classmates as we do from the instructor.

What would you say to people who are considering donating to this program?

Myra: Well, our next step is trying to eliminate the need for the fees we have. Currently our fees are $20 for annual membership and $60 per class. Annually we have a fundraising drive to help assure that MOLLI remains a self-sustaining operation; the money raised is added to funds received both from the interest on our Osher Endowment, managed by the UM Foundation, as well as the membership and class fees. Call 243-2905 and come join us to see what a great program this is!

Kathy: Myra really said it. We do also have gift cards that allow people to donate money to us to cover the fees for someone else. That social aspect from MOLLI is so important. As people age, retire, move to a community, they need to have a way to be involved. It’s just another wonderful facet of the University of Montana.