History of Osher


We were originally known as The Athenaeum at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for many years. The Athenaeum name was in honor of RIT’s own history—the university was founded in 1891 when the Rochester Athenaeum (liberal arts) merged with the Rochester Mechanics Institute (engineering). From our first days in 1987, we were focused on creating a peer-led learning organization.


In 2009, we became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), joining a growing national network of 120+ university-based programs for senior learners. Our name change from The Athenaeum to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT marked this important national affiliation with The Bernard Osher Foundation. More than 170,000 people nationwide are members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. Through satellite and partner locations, the 125 OLLIs offer courses and activities in 379 cities and towns throughout the US.