Our History

OLLI at Penn State University Park

For the first ten years of its existence, OLLI at Penn State was known as the Community Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL). CALL began in 1996 when a task force was formed to develop a lifelong learning institute (LLI) in the Central Pennsylvania region. The task force consisted of the Director of the Centre Region Senior Center, the Director of Penn State Continuing Education, staff from the Penn State Gerontology Department, and several community-minded individuals.

In the spring of 1997, CALL offered its first term of nine courses to 57 members. By its tenth year, CALL offered more than 200 courses in State College and Bellefonte, as well as multiple trips and social/special interest groups, to approximately 840 members.

In May 2006, CALL formally affiliated with Penn State Outreach. In January of the following year, CALL and Outreach applied for an Osher Foundation grant, which they were awarded in March 2007. In response to a requirement of the Osher Foundation, CALL legally changed its name to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State in September 2007.

In August 2010, Penn State provided OLLI administrative space in the Outreach Building in Innovation Park, where we are located today along with many other Penn State Outreach units. OLLI also has access to Outreach classrooms and meeting rooms.

In 2015, OLLI dissolved its nonprofit status and became part of Penn State Outreach Professional and Community Engagement (PACE). This fully integrated OLLI with Penn State and opened many doors to University resources.

OLLI at Penn State York

In early 2007, a chance meeting between three women — Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Padden, and Gussie Petron — sowed the seeds that bloomed into what is now OLLI at Penn State York. The women, who called themselves a cog (Charmaine, Olive, Gussie) in the wheel of learning, started discussing retirement and realized they needed intellectual and cultural stimulation, as well as new learning opportunities. They also realized there were no lifelong learning programs available in York County at the time.

The ladies decided to research lifelong learning programs on the internet. An important finding from their research was that to be successful, a lifelong learning program must be associated with a college or university. So, in the words of Olive Padden, “we made some contacts and Penn State York seemed to be the place to start this adventure.” As a result of their exploration, a portion of Penn State’s Osher Foundation grants were used to develop OLLI at Penn State York, which launched their first series of courses in the spring of 2008.