Who We Are

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is a learning community for adults age 50+ at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. We are part of a national network of OLLIs across the US. Each OLLI is affiliated with a college or university, is funded in part by The Bernard Osher Foundation, and is unique and operates independently, with offerings tailored to meet the needs and interests of its community.  However, some OLLIs do collaborate to share courses; currently we partner with OLLIs at the University of Arizona, Chico State (CA), and Dartmouth College (NH) which allows us to offer many more courses. Those in our program are called "members" rather than "students" (no college credit is earned; it's learning for the sake of learning). 

A Dual-Track Program

A membership at RIT's Osher Institute allows you to participate in one or both of the following tracks:

  • Attend Osher peer-led classes (in-person or online)
  • Audit RIT undergraduate classes (in-person or online) for free plus take advantage of other RIT campus perks

See the Membership Benefits page for more details.

Flexible Learning Options

In our dedicated building just south of the main RIT campus, we offer 50+ non-credit, peer-led courses per term in subjects from the arts to technology, language to history, science to literature – all without the pressure of exams or grades! In a relaxed and informal atmosphere, our students (referred to as "members") share knowledge, spark ideas, inspire new thinking, and forge friendships. Most of our classes are hybrid format which means you can participate either in-person in our classrooms or via Zoom from your home. Having this flexibility is great if you can’t come to Osher due to your travel, illness, out-of-area residence, or other reasons. 

Course Development 

We have a peer-learning/teaching model; every member of our community can take classes and/or give classes as it fosters a sense of community in, and ownership of, the program. As such, our course leaders are all volunteers and do not receive monetary compensation. No previous teaching experience is required, just a desire to share with others your knowledge or passion for a topic. Class members are energetic, curious, and have a lot of life experience to bring to the discussion. In keeping with our mission, course topics are primarily academically oriented. Prior to each term, course proposals are submitted to and reviewed by the Course Offerings Committee. Course proposals include the course title and description, the text or materials that will be used, the type of instruction planned (i.e. lecture, discussion, seminar) the length of the course, and other pertinent information. Leading a short, one-session class gives you the opportunity to “try out” course leadership to see if it is for you! Go to the Resources page to fill out the Course Proposal Form. Mentoring for new course leaders is available.

Governance and Volunteerism

Since we are part of RIT's Division of Government and Community Relations, we follow many of the university’s established policies. However, we do have autonomy over many aspects of our program, and a member Council consisting of a chairperson, vice-chairpersons, and supporting committees oversees it. In addition to Council positions, members volunteer to be course leaders, social event planners, tech support, etc. We so appreciate our dedicated volunteers who assist staff to keep the program running!

Go to the Resources page to view the Council organizational chart and our handbook.

Extracurricular Activities

In addition to taking classes, you can attend social events such as picnics and holiday parties. Browse our Ruth Estes Library, full of favorite books and DVDs, and check them out for as long as you like; there are no due dates! Enjoy our art gallery, located in the lobby and lounge areas, where members’ artwork and photos are displayed.