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Dartmouth the Osher Institute (Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth): Fall 2009 Newsletter

President's Letter

Photo of Ann HargravesWe’re off to a great start with 1305 members as of the end of August (1190 last year) and 1013 course registrations (969 last year). Even with this growth, all but 21 members received their first choice course. This outstanding success is attributable to the efforts of our hardworking Curriculum Committee, which continues to develop new and exciting courses, and our dedicated office staff consisting of the indefatigable Lisa King and Jill Newcity. Our Summer Lecture Series held at Hanover High School’s beautiful newly-renovated auditorium addressed Media in Crisis over a six-week period. Members commented frequently on the excellent acoustics and ease of parking at this new venue, the use of which was made necessary by construction at Spaulding Auditorium. The lectures ranged from a discussion of challenges to newspapers (a revenue problem, not a readership problem!) to a demonstration of new media sources such as Google and Twitter.

In July, Tom Blinkhorn and I attended the Southern Regional Conference of Institutes in Lifelong Learning in Auburn, Alabama. Participants from nineteen lifelong learning institutes exchanged idea about courses, social events and technology. We brought home several catalogs from other institutions which the Curriculum Committee will review for new ideas that might be implemented at the Osher Institute.

I reported last issue on the Yellow Brick Road consultants’ recommendations which are in process of implementation.

  • In August the executive Council adopted a new mission statement: The mission of the Osher Institute is to provide lifelong educational opportunities to residents of the Greater Upper Valley and members of the Dartmouth Community.
  • We have initiated a strategic effort to make all residents of the Upper Valley aware of the Osher Institute. You may have noticed the inclusion of an abbreviated fall catalog in the July 22 issue of the Valley News as one example of this effort. Our hope is that more community awareness of the Osher Institute will result in access to new study leaders and lecturers, but “spreading the word” is something all members can contribute to. Make sure your friends and neighbors know how much we’d welcome them as well.
  • An ad hoc Governance Committee chaired by Gerry Jones has held several meetings to consider what kind of governance structure might be most effective to lead the Osher Institute into the 21st Century. The Committee expects to issue its report this fall.
  • The ad hoc 20th Anniversary Committee is making plans for the Osher Institute’s 20th year which will begin July 1, 2010.
  • the Osher Institute has received permission from Dartmouth College to establish a Friends of the Osher Institute fund under which gifts to the Osher Institute are tax deductible and reserved for the Osher Institute’s use. While no final decision has been made as to when and whether to formally establish such a fund, the Osher Institute has already been the grateful recipient of nearly $1,000 in contributions in memory of Chica Maynard and John Lincoln; both Chica and John were recipients of the Campion Award for exceptional service to the Osher Institute.

Ann Hargraves

Planning Committee

Photo of Pete BleylerThe Planning Committee has taken on the responsibility for analyzing, prioritizing, and implementing recommendations from the Feasibility Study, which was discussed with the membership at the Annual Meeting this past May. After considerable discussion, the committee approved the following highest priority Planning Committee action steps:

  • Revise the Osher Institute’s mission statement and develop a vision statement.
  • Strengthen the Osher Institute’s relationship with Dartmouth College and the Dartmouth community.
  • Strengthen the Osher Institute’s relationships with Upper Valley Businesses and Organizations.

A revised mission statement was developed, and has been approved both by Dartmouth and the Executive Council. The mission statement is left of this column in the President’s Letter. A vision statement has also been developed and is working its way through the approval process (the College and the Executive Council). Several steps have been taken to begin the process of strengthening the Osher Institute’s relationship with Dartmouth College and Upper Valley businesses and organizations. 

Peter Bleyer

Study Leader Support

DOC HouseWhere does a new study leader go to get the answers to questions about teaching an Osher Institute course — a friend, a previous study leader, the office, or us? Study Leader Support has people experienced in the classroom and offers guidance to study leaders. We had a free spring course, and met in late summer to strategize how to offer more support. Power point and blogging are on people’s minds judging from the feedback at our spring meeting, and we have been discussing ways to apply both. We haven’t finished our planning, but we hope to move forward. If you have other ideas, please let us know. Susan Cohen, Chair

Curriculum Committee

Photo of Townsend SwayzeNow, look around. Where can you drop by and learn how to choose wines under $10, or go next door and Read William Faulkner — or Learn to Read a Poem, or find out Why New Hampshire Exists? Then drop into two darkened rooms showing classic British films. Get some exercise with Roots, Rocks, and Mud while exploring Upper Valley Trails. Or find out how to navigate the fish counter at the Co-op. And for aspiring classicists, go to Socrates’ trial. And there is so much more. All these topics are the Osher Institute courses. What a rich cafeteria of offerings this fall. Over 1,000 members signed up for courses, the largest enrollment to date. We are now looking toward developing winter courses, which will be no less diverse and enjoyable. In addition, the Osher Institute provides a series of special lectures — a fine way to spend a few hours. Recently, Barbara Levenson spoke about her recently released book, Fatal February. Speakers are lined up to talk about American patriotism, rail travel in New England, health and aging, and forests. The committee is exploring possible programs that would involve distance learning, as well as our continued work to maintain the quality of the courses and provide assistance to study leaders. Our very great thanks to all of the study leaders who have volunteered so much time and given us so much. Please let me or any member of the curriculum committee know of possible study leaders or special topics that we may pursue. We welcome your continuing support, which is essential to delivering a full and exciting program of courses and lectures.

Townsend Swayze

Summer Lecture Series

Photo of Bruce MacDonaldThe Summer Lecture Series was again a major hit this year, attracting a fascinating group of journalists, editors, media owners and electronic experts. Under the banner of “Media in Crisis”, we learned some of the dimensions of the current media malaise and why so many of our favorite newspapers have been disappearing. We heard war stories and we heard from seasoned professionals — an apparently dying newsroom breed. They covered some of the reasons media habits have changed so substantially and created an entirely new revenue flow and challenge to what we’d previously regarded as the “main stream media.” New youthful reading patterns, electronic media and the 24-hour news cycle were all part of the interplay, yet where it will end remains unclear. This year’s series had to move out of Spaulding Auditorium, presenting its own challenges by moving into Hanover High School. The Osher Institute staff plus an incredible number of the Osher Institute volunteers made the move almost seamless. Many members thought the nearly new auditorium might be better than past venues due to its size and perceived intimacy. Next year’s subject is undecided, and a number of options exist. So stay tuned!

Bruce Macdonald
Summer Lecture Series Chair

Membership Services

Photo of Maryann HolbrookAs a committee, we like to think that we are as helpful and flexible as possible. This fall, we were certainly being put to the test. On September 9, we hosted the annual cocktail party for New Members/Study Leaders at the Dartmouth Outing Club. As usual, there was a huge turnout, and the party was again a wonderful opportunity for new members to meet and chat with their study leaders. For six weeks this fall, we helped staff the administration office while Jill was out of the office. Thanks for being patient with us! Finally, in late October, we will help Tim Thacher with the New Member Assessment Survey by making follow-up telephone calls to survey respondents. We are delighted to help and support the Osher Institute committees.

MaryAnn Holbrook

Communications Committee

Photo of Sandraf HoehYou can keep up-to-date on the Osher Institute news and events by checking out our website at It’s a great way to see our course listings, special one-time events and lectures, study and travel tips, the summer program, and more. You can also learn about the Osher Institute’s history, purpose and mission. Check us out!

Sandra Hoeh

the Osher Institute Study Leader Joe Medlicott

Photo of Joe MedicottMeet the “dean” of the Osher Institute study leaders, the volunteer who has perhaps taught more the Osher Institute courses over a longer period than anyone else. He is Joe Medlicott, an energetic, ebullient 83-year-old Dartmouth College grad, who was there at the creation, so to speak. “I taught my first the Osher Institute course the first semester after the Osher Institute was created... I guess it was 1991,” he recalled in a recent interview on the porch of the Dartmouth Outing Club. “Ginia Allison (another the Osher Institute member) telephoned and asked me to do a course. I agreed. It was “America Moves West: Literature of the American Frontier,” and the class met in Dartmouth Hall.” Joe obviously loves teaching and brings impressive credentials to the task. After a stint as a paratrooper during World War II with the 82nd Airborne Division, he graduated from Dartmouth in 1950 with a Degree in literature. He then worked as a newspaper reporter in Springfield, MA, before getting his Master’s Degree in literature at Trinity College, and a Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Seattle. He taught English/American literature at several universities and at Deerfield Academy.

After retiring from Deerfield, Joe and wife Suzanne moved to the Upper Valley, eventually settling in Piermont, NH, where they have restored a gorgeous Federal house, circa 1830. Joe has taught a wide range of the Osher Institute courses in literature and memoir writing. He has also led the Osher Institute literature study tours to England. His fall, 2009, course is about William Faulkner. In tracing inspiration for his literature and teaching passions, Joe immediately sites three people: his grandfather, father and a teacher. His grandfather was a Welsh coal miner who ran away from home at age 14, found passage on a ship to the United States, but it sank and he Had to swim ashore off Long Island. He eventually made his fortune in the woolen underwear business. “He loved books,” Joe said, and amassed a huge collection at his home in Long Meadow, MA, where Joe grew up. “My father, a Yale grad, was also an avid reader,” Joe recalled. “But the biggest influence was my junior high English teacher in Long Meadow. Alice Williams. She was a tyrant, made me work, taught me to read critically.” Joe and his wife have three children — two Boys and a girl — and two grandchildren. They have horses at their place in Piermont and have had a long love affair with German Shepards ... “a wonderful breed”. What is Joe reading these days, when not teaching? “Retribution: The Battle for Japan 1944-45,” by British historian Max Hastings, who Joe describes as “a splendid writer...his work reads like a find novel.” He is also reading a novel, “Olive Kitteridge,” by Elizabeth Stout.

Tom Blinkhorn

From the Editor

Photo of Janet SchoelerWhat an extraordinary group of people leading the Osher Institute courses. College and university professors, physicians, a state legislator, ballet dancer, actors, directors, city planner, county commissioner, assistant United States attorney, linguist, land and conservation manager, national intelligence officer, art historian, fisheries authority, foreign service officers, aeronautical engineer, pianist, poet, architect, writers, landscape designer, chemical engineer - a ton of talent. I feel fortunate to step into the role as the Osher Institute’s newsletter editor and share news about course leaders. It’s easy to spread the word about a quality product. As fall is pushed aside by winter, be sure to take a look at who will be teaching the next round of the Osher Institute courses as well as the variety of courses. Imagine, selecting a course where you choose what grabs your attention and interests the most instead of looking for credits.

Janet Schoeler

Lisa's Corner

Photo of Lisa KingHello everyone! We have been very busy in the Osher Institute office! Record enrollment for fall — over 1,000 participants enrolled in courses, and the term is well underway! the Osher Institute has lots of new and upcoming programs for late fall and winter and all the committee members have been working hard! Jill Newcity, the Osher Institute’s administrative assistant, has been out for surgery and recovery! Jill is doing well and expected to be back to work in October! I have missed her and look forward to her return! I want to personally thank Mary Ann Holbrook and all the volunteers who have helped to keep the Osher Institute running.

Lisa King

Fall Term Happenings

  • Leaves October 1: Belden Paulson lecture, One Strategy for Planetary Survival; Ecological Communities
  • October 15: Wooden Teachout lecture, Capture the Flag; A Political History of American Patriotism
  • November 19: Peter Burling lecture, The Future of Rail Transit
  • November 13: Fall Term Ends
  • November 26 & 27: Closed for Thanksgiving
  • December 9: Steve Bartels lecture, Health and Aging
  • December 13: Holiday Boston Pops at Verizon Wireless Arena
  • December 24, 2009 - January 4, 2010: Closed for the Holidays
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Last Updated: 2/1/13