The Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech begins its first course term on Oct. 5. The member-driven volunteer organization is designed for people ages 50 and older in the New River Valley.

The Lifelong Learning Institute offers courses taught by Virginia Tech faculty and researchers. Other offerings include events and opportunities aimed at providing intellectual, cultural, and social experiences.

"The power of big ideas has never been confined within traditional modes of learning," said Guru Ghosh, vice president for outreach and international affairs. "Former provost Mark McNamee, Dean Emeritus Jerry Niles, and Associate Provost Emerita Pat Hyer are building a program for seasoned citizens that introduces a world of great purpose, grand adventures, lofty experiments, and life-altering strategies."

"Today's seniors are redefining what it means to age successfully, said Hyer, a volunteer leader of the institute. "This means moving away from focusing on loss and decline and instead trying to find greater meaning and joy in daily life. Staying engaged through programs like the Lifelong Learning Institute can help people find those important connections."

While the university is supporting the institute's launch, the operation will eventually be self-sustained and membership-based, Hyer says.

The institute's first event was  the LivingWell@50+ event held on campus earlier this month. Later in the semester, course offerings will be announced, covering subjects such as:  

  • the civil rights struggle in Virginia
  • the roots of Arab nationalism
  • horticulture
  • genealogy

"The establishment of the Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech follows a nationwide trend of universities and colleges creating programming for older adults," said Jerome "Jerry" Niles, steering committee chair and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Bringing such an institute to the New River Valley was a top priority for Dr. McNamee."

Information about course registration, fees, locations, and other details are available online or by calling Hyer at 540-951-4968. If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Tammy Stevers by email or by calling 540-231-5182 during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the first class session listed on the Lifelong Learning Institute website.

Written by Dana Cruikshank