Participants ranging in age from 55 to 93 are taking advantage of a smorgasbord of seminars in 24 subjects this semester, including the Big Band era, early Greek and Roman philosophy, Boston history, and the Middle East in the 20th century.
"The ILR is for people who simply love to learn," said program administrator Ann Whelan. "There are no lectures, no examinations and no marks. Its purpose is peer education through a seminar-type discussion.
"It offers a new lifestyle for people who sometimes don't know what they are going to do with their time," she said. "You just have to want to learn."
Whelan, who counts a 1983 Boston College graduate among her seven grown children, has been active in the ILR since its founding in 1992 by then-alumni president Joseph B. Dowd, '49. She has helped administer the growing program for the past four years.
A curriculum sub-committee selects each semester's course offerings and seminar leaders are chosen from the institute's membership. "All of the courses are academic in nature," Whelan said. "We never have a 'how-to' course."
Institute for Learning in Retirement program administrator Ann Whelan.
Seminars are held each Monday and Tuesday during the academic year at Alumni House and the schedule is sprinkled with social events, barbecues, lunch-time speakers, and class field trips to museums, galleries, libraries and sites related to the subject involved.
Last spring, Whelan notes, a former superintendent of schools with a lifelong interest in music led a class on jazz. For the final meeting, he took the class members to a club performance at Stella's in Cambridge.
The institute's strong ties to the local community are reflected by the more than 100 residents of Newton and Brookline who are members, according to Louis V. Sorgi, '45, president of the Institute for Learning in Retirement Council, which oversees the program.
"I think it is important for BC to have this," said Sorgi. "It gives our senior alumni a way to relate back to the University, and a way for the University to relate to our neighborhood."
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