LAWRENCE – Change is in the power of the appeal. Marianne Wilkinson, a longtime member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kansas and Lawrence resident, attends courses in the Institute’s main classroom at the St. Andrews Office Facility and noticed a common need among her classmates. She approached Jim Peters, KU’s director of the Osher Institute and statewide outreach, about the need for a hearing loop in the classroom. When Peters said, “We just don’t have the money,” she replied, “Well, why don’t you ask us?”
This was the impetus of a whirlwind campaign to update the classroom at 1515 St. Andrews Drive. In only seven days of the campaign launch on launchku.org, it reached its $9,700 goal and raised $14,400 in only six weeks. The appeal was met with an overwhelming response from Osher students and alumni as well as from the Lawrence and Topeka communities.
The Osher Institute invites the local community to a dedication of the classroom, now equipped with a hearing loop and new public address (PA) system. The ceremony is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, and will feature a short program recognizing Kaw Valley Hearing and other donors.
“Today our members are enjoying Osher courses more than ever because they responded to our campaign for a new state-of-the-art hearing loop and PA system,” Peters said. “There’s no more scrambling for a front row seat. Now everyone can hear every enriching word.”
Part of KU Professional & Continuing Education, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute provides its members with a wide range of noncredit enrichment courses, covering history, literature, art, music, religion and more, without the pressure of exams and homework. The institute delivers on its mission to provide accessible and innovative learning environments to participants, 50 years old and older, in nearly 20 sites across Kansas and Greater Kansas City. More than one-third of the courses are offered at the St. Andrews location, serving more than 1,200 adult learners each year.
Originally a gym, the classroom lacked a public address system, and many students complained of difficulty hearing their instructors. With help from KU Information Technology, KU Design & Construction Management and MSM Systems Inc., the Osher Institute installed the PA system and hearing loop, which transmits sound to hearing aids and speakers. Modern hearing aids feature a switch that blocks exterior sounds to only transmit sound coming from the loop, which is installed in the flooring.
“I was surprised at the number of our students who have hearing aids,” Peters said. “I asked the students in the first class who experienced the new sound system to raise their hand if they had a hearing aid, and from the smiles on their faces, it looked like Christmas morning.”
Peters and the Osher Institute plan to use additional donations to make further enhancements to the learning experience: upgrade sluggish computers and replace the aging projector.
“This is our chance to give back to Osher,” said Barbara Nordling, Osher student, in a fundraising video. “They’ve done so much to make our retirement good, so we’re glad to have a chance to help.”
RSVP for the Dedication Ceremony
The celebration is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 1515 St. Andrews Dr., and will feature a short program recognizing Kaw Valley Hearing and all donors. Guests are invited to enjoy light refreshments and learn more about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 785-864-7863.