In 2006, we became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, joining a growing national network of more than 120 university-based centers for older learners. Our name change to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT (from The Athenaeum) was part of this affiliation, which also includes significant funding for efforts to help us grow. Read more about our involvement with The Bernard Osher Foundation.
For the 19 years prior to our name change, we were known as The Athenaeum at Rochester Institute of Technology. The Athenaeum name (and its difficult spelling!) was in honor of RIT’s own history—the university was founded in the early 1800s when the Rochester Athenaeum (focused on liberal arts) merged with the Rochester Mechanics Institute (focused on engineering). From our first days in 1987, we were intent on creating a member-led learning organization.
The Rochester Institute of Technology was founded in the early 1800s as a combination of the Rochester Athenaeum (liberal arts) and the Rochester Mechanics Institute (engineering). In 1987, "The Athenaeum" was reborn as an academic-style learning center at RIT for individuals 50 and over. During 2006/2007 we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a year-long program of special exhibits, displays and events. Also in 2006/2007, we launched into a new phase of our growth and development through an affiliation with the national network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes.
In recognition of our historic name, we continue to call the building in which we are housed The Athenaeum Building.
Click here to learn more about the complete History of RIT