Frequently Asked Questions


(For New Members 2012-2013)

Q. Where do the names “Osher Lifelong Learning Institute” and “OLLI” come from? What do they mean?
A. We’re glad you asked! OLLI-USF’s roots go back to 1993. Back then, we were the USF Division of Senior Programs and its constituent programs, SeniorNet and Learning in Retirement. In February of 2005, we received the first of several gifts from The Bernard Osher Foundation (, based in San Francisco. Since 2002, the Osher Foundation has been quietly “helping” programs such as ours—at first, just in Maine and California. Later, the Foundation decided to help fund a national network of Lifelong Learning Institutes.

The Oshers, Bernard and Barbro, are philanthropists who have channeled their generosity into education, medicine and the arts. They gave us several gifts and, more recently, $2,000,000 in endowed funding. There are very few strings attached to the Oshers’ gift—one is that each institute be identified by a common name. We changed our name to OLLI-USF in the summer of 2005. When you travel to other states, you can find other institutes because they will be called the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke, Tufts, Rutgers, University of Wisconsin, etc. We are one of six Florida OLLIs—others are at Eckerd College, University of Miami, University of North Florida, Florida International University and Florida State University.

Q. Who’s in charge of OLLI-USF?
A. We are a “member-run-and-led” organization. Member-volunteers run this organization. OLLI has a Board of Advisors made up of seven elected members and six appointed committee chairs. Members also serve on committees, teach courses, serve as class assistants or coaches, make decisions about the courses we offer, volunteer in the OLLI office and are involved in many other aspects of running this organization. A list of OLLI’s volunteer-leaders and their responsibilities is enclosed. We hope that you will “answer the call” and pitch in to help in some capacity during your membership year. OLLI-USF doesn’t offer programs FOR you; rather, it enables you, the members, to have the programs that you want. This is the difference between OLLI and other adult education programs or senior activity centers. We rely on volunteer power to remain true to our “member-run-and-led” spirit and to keep program costs down.

Q. Who makes up the OLLI staff?
A. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is part of Continuing Education and University College at the University of South Florida in Tampa. OLLI’s staff are the liaison between the university and the program and its volunteers. They work with the members, leaders and instructional volunteers to administer, provide information, coordinate programs, and promote the interests of OLLI-USF within and outside of the University. Please call or email us; we enjoy hearing from members!
Director, OLLI Ara Rogers 813-974-5263
Program Coordinator Joseph McAuliffe 813-974-5166
Administration Mary E. O’Donnell 813-974-8422
OLLI Information & Volunteer telephone 813-974-8036

Registration (Mon-Fri, 8:00am-4:00pm) 813-974-2403 (select option 1)

Q. What if my class requires a textbook?
A. OLLI Computer class texts, disks and other materials needed are included in the cost of registration. Materials are distributed to students in class. If there are exceptions to this practice, see the Liberal Arts text instructions below.

Liberal Arts faculty occasionally require or suggest a text. Text information is always listed in Evergreen or on our web site descriptions of the class, indicating required or optional. Details about how and where to obtain the text and the approximate cost are provided on the course registration confirmation (receipt) which will be mailed to you. The USF Bookstore stocks those texts we require or recommend: they are also happy to ship your text to your home. Contact the USF Bookstore General Books department, 813-974-5026, for more information about book pricing and availability.

Q. How does second choice registration work?
A. We encourage members to take additional courses each term and provide an incentive for you to do so with our “second choice” option. Here’s an opportunity to take additional courses for about half-price, provided you are registered in a full-price course for the same term. Second choice registration rates range from $15 to about $40 (for some computer training courses). On a selected date between one and two weeks before the start date of each class, we release all available seats for those who wish to take the class as a “second choice.” At this time, you may call Registration at 813-974-2403 (select option 1) or visit the OLLI web site ( to see if your second choice is available. If so, you may register for the class at the second choice fee. Here is how second choice prices and registration dates will be listed in Evergreen (the 2nd choice option appears larger in this example):

Fee: $40 • 2nd choice option: $20 (call 9/30) • free parking

In the example above, the $20 second choice fee becomes effective on September 30. OLLI trips and several classes are not offered as second choice options; some one or two-day classes have restrictions as noted with their class descriptions. Second choice registrations are first come, first served, so register early, whether by web, telephone, fax or mail, as soon as possible to ensure a place in your desired classes.

Q. What if I need to withdraw from a class? What if I’m not happy with a class?
A. It depends on when you withdraw. Make yourself familiar with our refund policy, which is published in every edition of Evergreen: we will issue a full refund up to five days before a class starts. If you withdraw within five days of the course start, we will refund your class fee minus a $15 administrative fee. We issue no refunds after a course starts. By the time a class starts, we have mailed you information and perhaps given you materials; we will not be able to “sell” your seat to another member.

We want you to be happy with your selection and will work with you to try to come up with a solution. We can try to transfer you to another class in the same term; we cannot transfer you to a class in a future term. Call any OLLI staff member if you have any issues or concerns about our classes. We will work with you to find a solution that will better meet your needs.

Q. What about access to the USF Library?
A. Access to the USF library is a privilege of OLLI membership. If you have previously received a green and white library card, hang on to it! It will continue to be valid with your continuing membership. If you’d like a library card, please contact staff members Mary Ettinger O’Donnell or Joseph McAuliffe.

New cards need to be bar-coded on your first visit to take advantage of your checkout privileges. Simply go to the circulation desk in the library during business hours, Monday through Friday, and tell them you need to register your library card.

Your library privileges at the USF Tampa Campus Library are the same as for USF undergraduates: up to 20 books, for up to three weeks. Your card entitles you to check out books only. It will not allow you to borrow University Media Center items. If you run into a problem during business hours, ask to see the Director of Access Services, Merilyn Burke, or call Joseph McAuliffe.

Q. What is the Renaissance Certificate program and why should I sign up for it?
A. A rounded approach to education was an ideal of the Italian Renaissance period. It is a persistent ageist myth that older adults are fixed in their ways of being and thinking. While familiar patterns of thinking and routines are comfortable, recent brain research indicates that the best things we can do for our brains is to alter patterns, challenge our thinking and learn and do new things.

The Renaissance Certificate was established in early 2006 to help you do that. By signing up for the certificate, you challenge yourself to complete 12 OLLI courses — one in each of the seven certificate fields of study: Arts & Humanities; History; Literature; Political Science (Geopolitics); Science & Mathematics; Technology and Elective — and five additional courses in any of the fields of study.

It costs only $20 to start the certificate. Register for the Renaissance certificate as you would for any other course. You will receive a fancy name badge and your Renaissance Passport. Your passport helps you track your own progress on the certificate. There is no credit awarded beyond the feeling of accomplishment you will have, and there is no time limit for completing the certificate. You can take one or more courses per term as your schedule permits. When you have completed all of the required courses you will be issued a beautiful, specially-designed certificate. You will also be honored at an OLLI-USF event. Become a modern Renaissance person!

Q. Why are you always asking for my email address?
A. OLLI uses email to communicate and to provide you with opportunities to evaluate the courses you take. It is a cost-effective way to disseminate information, distribute news and remind you about upcoming events. Postal, or “snail mail,” is expensive and inefficient for any urgent messages we might send. In emergency situations, when we need to cancel/postpone classes due to weather, instructor illness or other situations, email is another way (in addition to telephoning) that we can notify and update you.

We have found that email addresses tend to change with some frequency, so we will continually ask you to update the email addresses we have for you. Expect to be asked to check your email address and verify that it is correct on the first day of any OLLI class. If you prefer not to receive most emails from us, just let the OLLI office know. We don’t send very many and we are bound by Federal rules regarding privacy of students, so of course, we will NEVER share that information with others.

Please call 813-974-8036 (or any OLLI staff member) anytime (you can leave a message!) to alert us to changes in your email or home address, phone number or name change.

Q. What about my name badge?
A. Your name badge and OLLI-USF lanyard are enclosed. OLLI-USF is a community of learners; it can be difficult to build a community if you don’t know your fellow member’s name. Avoid that annoying, “I know that person, but can’t remember his/her name” situation—please wear your name badge to all OLLI functions, classes, events and meetings. Your badge will also identify you as an OLLI-USF member when you are around campus. New OLLI members are identified by a ribbon on the left side of their badges.

If you misplace your name badge, please call 813-974-8422 to request a replacement. We will issue one replacement a year.

Q. What is the parking situation at USF?
A. Finding convenient parking on any college campus can be a challenge. USF, one of the largest universities in the nation, is no different.

When registering for an OLLI course or program, you can purchase a parking permit at a discounted daily rate of $2.50 per day. These parking permits are valid only on the days your class meets.

Your parking permit is good for any space on campus designated S for non-resident students or D for Daily/Visitor. There are non-resident student and/or visitor spots in lots 38C, 38T or 38A which are convenient to most of our program locations. These lots are generally full during peak campus hours, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Please pay attention to the signs indicating whether the lot you wish to park in has student or visitor spots: some lots have separate, designated areas or spaces for students, staff and visitors. You may park in a metered visitor spot, but you will have to deposit coins into the meter. Parking regulations are strictly enforced so always remember to display your parking permit clearly on the dashboard. If you have a handicapped tag, you may park in any handicapped space — but you must still purchase and display a USF parking permit. No one should park in a “reserved” space.

Q. How can I find out more about OLLI-USF?
A. There are lots of ways to stay in tune with what is happening at OLLI:
  • Visit our web site, accessed via Once there, click on the FOR OLLI MEMBERS link at the right hand side. You’ll find information about OLLI there, information about becoming a volunteer or submitting a course proposal, OLLI’s bylaws and a link to our member-run website,

  • Check out the OLLI NEWS pages in Evergreen, our quarterly catalog.

  • Join OLLI-USF on Facebook, at

  • Join our e-list. You’ll receive almost-weekly news about upcoming programs, changes and other items of interest. You will also want to check your spam filter periodically and ensure that wanted mail from OLLI doesn’t wind up lost to you.

OLLI’s Membership Committee is working hard to ensure that members are kept up to date on OLLI-USF news. If you have an idea or a comment about OLLI News, please email; or call 813-974-8036.

Q. How can I find out about other events and programs at USF?
A. USF sponsors hundreds of lectures, concerts, performances, symposia, conferences and art exhibits every school term and supports research continuously. One of the benefits of living in a university town is the ability to attend and take part in such events—if you know about them. OLLI-USF began an email service, or listserv, several years ago to alert any interested persons about events that might be of interest to adults in the community. The listserv is called USFSeniors. If you are interested in receiving periodic email messages from us about upcoming events, you should sign up. We endeavor to send no more than two messages in any week.

Occasionally, USFSeniors posts messages from researchers who are looking for subjects. Participating in scholarly or medical research is a way to learn more about yourself, your health and, sometimes, even make a little extra money. It is also a way that OLLI members can contribute to the University’s research mission. All USFSeniors opportunities are verified for authenticity and only the list owner (Ara Rogers, Director of OLLI) can post messages. In that way, you know that all requests for research participants are officially sanctioned university research, having been evaluated for ethical research practices. This also limits spam and junk mail. To join the USFSeniors list, send an e-mail to Ara Rogers, OLLI Director, at, indicating you want to join the USFSeniors list.

Q. How do I get a Certificate of Completion for my class?
A. We’ve found that some members want certificates; some don’t. So we issue Certificates of Completion only upon a member’s request. If you wish a certificate of completion for any of your classes, please contact the OLLI Volunteer desk at 813-974-8036 or, and request one. Our office volunteers will call you if they have any questions about your request; they will create your certificate and arrange to get it to you.

Q. I’d like to suggest a class that OLLI-USF should offer. How can I let you know?
A. Since OLLI operates with volunteer instructors, we appreciate member ideas for topics, but we can’t always secure a qualified instructor who will teach on that basis. Members are usually our best sources for ideas about new classes and, particularly, for new faculty. We encourage you to contact us with information about people you know or have heard of who might become OLLI instructors. If you have an instructor referral, contact one of the OLLI coordinators on staff or contact our OLLI curriculum leaders: Bill Sapper ( for a liberal arts course or Shirley Deeter ( for a computer course idea.

Q. Could I teach a class for OLLI-USF? What would I need to do?
A. YES! Members teach most of our classes. This is how we are able to diversify and expand our offerings. We are always looking for new ideas and new leaders. We would be looking for evidence that you know your subject and you possess (or are willing to learn) the necessary skills to help you succeed as an OLLI instructor.

If you think you would like to teach at OLLI, please go to our website at; click on the “For OLLI Members” box at bottom right. Then click on the “Submit a Course Proposal” link. Please fill out the form and return to any OLLI staff member. Next steps would be:
1. Discuss your ideas and interest with a member of the OLLI staff.
2. Meet with OLLI’s Curriculum Committee. They may suggest modifications or offer additional resources.
3. For some topics, a Friday Lecture Series program (a 45-minute introduction to the topic) might be appropriate.
4. Schedule your class.
New faculty are oriented and mentored by experienced leaders. We encourage you to consider teaching for OLLI! You won’t find a more rewarding group of students to work with!

Q. How can I get the most out of my OLLI-USF membership?
A. We have several suggestions:
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to register. Members registering for space-available “second choice” courses will have taken most of the remaining seats the week before the class starts.
  • Take advantage of the many free events (such as Friday Lecture Series) that we offer. We are often able to get simply stellar speakers for a one-hour lecture who can’t do an entire series for us.
  • Get involved in OLLI by volunteering at some level. You will build lasting bonds with some really remarkable people and strengthen the organization for yourself and for others.
  • Carry a sweater or light jacket. One member’s Sahara is another’s Antarctica. Meeting rooms are often cool, especially mornings.
  • OLLI-USF is about learning in a relaxed, no-stress environment. Relax and enjoy your classes and our members. Remember that you often learn more from those you disagree with than from listening only to those who share your opinions. We strive to be a place that is open to reasoned debate and the airing of a variety of perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Applaud the talented volunteers who teach our classes and make it all possible. Your appreciation is their best reward.
  • Ask questions! Phone numbers for all OLLI staff members, the information desk (staffed by OLLI volunteers) and the registration staff are listed on the inside front cover of the Evergreen. We welcome your questions and input! Also, a volunteer from OLLI’s Membership Committee may call you to greet you as a new member and give you an opportunity to ask questions.