Bernard Osher Foundation Endows $2 Million to RIT

Osher Lifelong Learning and Osher Reentry Scholars program receive grants




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The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded $2 million to Rochester Institute of Technology for endowments to be equally shared by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT and the Reentry Scholars Program at RIT’s Center for Multidisciplinary Studies.

“RIT is enormously grateful to the Bernard Osher Foundation for this wonderful endowment,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “Two years ago, we received operating support to establish the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, previously known as the Athenaeum, and the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program for older students returning to full-time undergraduate study.

“This endowment, totaling $2 million, provides the financial foundation essential for both of these programs to flourish for years to come.”

The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by businessman Bernard Osher. His wife, the Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in San Francisco, chairs the foundation’s Board of Directors. The foundation seeks to improve quality of life through the support of post-secondary scholarships and lifelong learning programs at institutions of higher education across the country as well as arts and culture initiatives in the San Francisco Bay area and in the state of Maine. The Foundation also funds integrative medicine centers at Harvard University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT—an affiliate of RIT since 1987— is an academic-based and membership-led organization that stimulates minds and forges friendships among people ages 50 and older who live in Greater Rochester.

“The Osher endowment will provide support to help us grow and enhance our lifelong learning program at RIT,” says Julie Blowers, program director for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT. “New initiatives will be made possible such as the Osher Arts and Lecture Program, which combines special music performances with guest speakers in a variety of topics ranging from foreign policy to Internet technology.”

As Peter Luce, council chair for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, explains, “At this time, we are among 121 university-based Osher lifelong learning institutes nationwide which together provide educational programming for over 70,000 people. The Osher endowment award is a major national recognition of the value of our program. We are pleased and proud of that recognition.”

The Osher Reentry Scholarship program offers scholarship funding to support reentering adult college students who seek to advance their education in multidisciplinary studies. The program has become a regional resource for people seeking to reengage with the university and upgrade their skills.

“For the past two years, we have administered Osher Reentry Scholarships and awarded 21 scholarships totaling over $100,000,” says James Myers, director of RIT’s Center for Multidisciplinary Studies.

“What is unique about these scholarships is the emphasis on reentry students—students who are 25 years of age or older who have had their college education interrupted in some way. As you can imagine, the stories are inspirational.”

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. More than 15,800 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For nearly two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review features RIT in its 2007 Best 361 Colleges rankings and named the university one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses.” RIT is also featured in Barron’s Best Buys in Education.