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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute  

About OLLI

What do we do?

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC AshevilleOLLI members in lobby (formerly the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement) is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed learning community dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, leadership, community service, and research. We opened our doors in 1988 as a department of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Our goal is to enable our members to “thrive” in life’s second half.

OLLI at UNC Asheville(OLLI) embraces an unusually comprehensive array of programs in the arts and humanities, the natural world, civic engagement, wellness, life transition and retirement relocation planning, intergenerational co-learning, and research on trends in the reinvention of retirement.

How do we operate?

OLLI  is housed in our own building, Reuter Center, on the UNC Asheville campus. Our collaborative member-staff led organization operates as a public-private entity, with two-thirds of our budget derived from endowment income and fees; and one-third from state funding. Approximately 450 members volunteer each year to do everything from teach, serve on committees, run research projects, mentor undergraduates, and provide consulting to other UNC Asheville departments.

Who’s taking notice?

OLLI's uniqueness has earned it frequent mention in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney, Business Week, Kiplinger’s, and The Christian Science Monitor, TV's CBS Sunday Morning, and websites such as, and many others.

Who participates?

OLLI membership is open to anyone who wishes to experience the widMary Lasher with panelists e range of courses and activities we offer.  Most of our 2100 members are over 55, but we encourage attendance by anyone who wishes to be part of our community of learners.  Many of our participants have relocated to the area, but we encourage those who have lived and worked in Western North Carolina throughout their lives to seek a creative retirement at OLLI. We benefit from a diversity of life experiences and points of view and value the opportunity to learn from one another both inside and outside our classes.  We do not have any entrance requirements; you only need a sense of intellectual curiosity to participate in our courses, workshops, and activities. 

What do we stand for?

Our values express how we expect to travel where we want to go:

  • Sense of Community — We are a community of learners who rely on the active participation of its members. Through these activities, members enjoy meeting like-minded people, exploring common interests, sharing experiences and forming lasting friendships.
  • Commitment — We are committed to the development of our staff and the personal growth of our volunteers.
  • Leadership — All members have a voice and help set goals and direction.
  • Excellence — Our staff and volunteers are constantly seeking to achieve the highest standards of performance.
  • Innovation — We creatively pursue new areas of opportunity that will benefit our members.
  • Culture — We create an atmosphere that is stimulating, creative, friendly, fulfilling, and fun.

Where are we heading?

OLLI continues to grow by taking the accumulated experience and knowledge of the past and making it newly relevant to the changing environment and conditions of life. Members get to join a new community by making friends with people who share their interests. Come and take your turn with us. You will discover wonderful, new aspects of yourself and the environment that surrounds you!

Last edited by on May 20, 2015