UGA’s OLLI program names award winners

Five members of the OLLI@UGA program were recognized for outstanding service and contributions at the organization’s annual meeting May 28.

Recipients of the Carol Fisher Award, OLLI’s highest honor, are Lee Albright, Andy Horne and Penny Oldfather. The President’s Award, which recognizes special projects benefitting OLLI, was presented to Peter Balsamo and John Muthe.

The awards were presented by Chris Jones, whose term as OLLI president ends June 30. Jones announced the recipients in the OLLI annual meeting held via Zoom due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Fisher Award is named for a deceased former professor in the University of Georgia’s Mary Francis Early College of Education who was instrumental in starting the Learning in Retirement program, which evolved into OLLI@UGA. The award recognizes outstanding service over a long period of time.

Albright was OLLI president in 2016-17 and served on numerous committees including the search committee that selected the current OLLI executive director. As chair of the Hospitality Committee she led planning for many social events, the annual meeting, the OLLI Fair and the New Member Orientation. She represented OLLI at several national and regional meetings of lifelong learning organizations.

Horne, retired former dean of the education college, was instrumental in transitioning the Learning in Retirement program into the national OLLI network founded by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He was vice president of the OLLI Board of Directors, a member of three Nominating Committees, and as co-chair of the Curriculum Committee helped arrange dozens of classes.

Oldfather served six years on the Curriculum Committee, recruiting instructors for hundreds of classes and advocating for greater diversity in class offerings. A retired professor in the College of Education, she is beginning her second term on the Board of Directors and is co-chair of the committee that arranges luncheon programs.

Balsamo and Muthe received the President’s Award for their leadership in helping OLLI initiate use of Zoom for classes and meetings. As a member of the Curriculum Committee, Balsamo arranged OLLI’s first remote classes via Skype about two years ago. He has since recruited numerous instructors at distant locations to teach via Skype and more recently via Zoom. He also helped start the WiseMEN Special Interest Group, which brings male OLLI members together for discussions.

Muthe lives at Iris Place retirement center and was responsible for starting OLLI Zoom classes at the center. He manages the technology that enables about 25 residents who have joined OLLI to attend the classes. He has taught some classes and also helped start the WiseMEN group. He uses his technology skills to help Iris Place residents with their camera phones and to make phone check-ins with them.

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