OLLI History

In the Beginning

In 1979, a needs-assessment by California State University Fullerton indicated a substantial segment of Orange County’s population was then in the over-60 age bracket.  Recognizing that lifelong learning and social interaction were important keys to successful retirement, 47 enthusiastic charter members launched a lifelong learning organization and named it “Continuing Learning Experience” (CLE).  That first September, eight classes were offered.  Today, the program provides a full calendar of class offerings as well as social, recreational, and travel opportunities.

For a pictorial timeline of OLLI's first 45 years, click here.PDF File Opens in new window

Ruby Gerontology Center

When it became apparent that CLE would outgrow its quarters at Mahr House, its first campus home, CLE members began a fund-raising campaign in 1982.  Gifts came from many individuals, cities, companies, and foundations.  CLE members alone contributed $750,000 and in 1988 saw the dedication of the 15,000 sq. ft. Charles L. and Rachael E. Ruby Gerontology Center, the first building on campus financed by donations rather than state funds.  The center is located on 2.3 acres of land contributed by the trustees of the California State University system.  It is the permanent home for the expanding lifelong learning organization.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University Fullerton

In 2006, CSUF accepted a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, and the name of the organization was changed from “Continuing Learning Experience” (CLE) to “Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University Fullerton,” or OLLI-CSUF, for short.  Information regarding the Osher network of lifelong learning institutes may be found on its National Resource Center website www.Osher.net.

Relationship to California State University Fullerton

OLLI-CSUF is a chartered program and an integral part of California State University Fullerton, operating under the direction and supervision of Extension and International Programs . It supports and enhances the activities of CSUF. Its members enjoy the benefits of student status, which include a campus parking pass, access to the campus library, free admission for two to all CSUF athletic events, discounts at the students’ store, and discounted admission to the new campus performing arts center.   In addition, members may audit any regular CSUF class with permission of the instructor.

OLLI-CSUF Programs

OLLI’s programs consist of self-directed study groups, educational lectures, computer education, physical activities, special events, social activities, and travel opportunities.  The curriculum, social, and travel committees respond to the requests of the membership in determining offerings each semester.  And while the members learn from each other, they learn also from community leaders, university professors, and other leading authorities.  As a non-profit, self-supporting organization maintained by volunteer member services, low membership fees and donations, members “get involved” with the many healthy volunteer activities that sustain and promote the lifelong learning programs on campus and in the community.