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AU News

Lifelong Learning Institute Brings AU to Adult Learners

August 28, 2018

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While the majority of college students aren’t far removed from high school, AU’s Lifelong Learning Institute shows the love of learning knows no age boundary. 

Director Nancy Hanley has led the program since 2013, with classes ranging from ornithology to religion to history — with 225 students each term eager to learn without fear of a midterm or pop quiz. 

Anderson University Lifelong Learning InstituteThe program differs from traditional courses in that there is no particular major or focus for any student. Each student can take whatever course he or she finds interesting in a more relaxed, engaged atmosphere. 

“(The students) are interested in learning, and they are interesting to be around, too” Hanley said. 

The program has been a family affair for Hanley, as her husband, Professor of English and Education Dr. Bob Hanley, has also been a part of the program as an English and mythology teacher. He plans on leading a course this fall on author Pat Conroy and the novel “The Prince of Tides.” 

About a third of the professors teach at AU, and a few come from the community. Professors of Biology Dr. Tom Kozel and Andy Norris have taught ornithology twice a year. Their classes feature field trips that involve bird watching. 

Alumna Betsey Matheny graduated from the school while it was still known as Anderson College and has taught a quilting class, taken a watercolor class and even published a book after taking a writing class.

“AU alumni have had such a great experience — we want them back,” Nancy Hanley said. 

Dr. Joyce Wood is a retired history professor from Anderson University and has taught a class on the Biltmore Estate and several history courses.

“You don’t have to break out a test and grade it,” she said. “It becomes a wonderful, mutual exchange.” 

Professors often come from the student body itself, as Mike Kay first started taking classes four to five years ago and has now taught a couple of history classes. 

“You find a lot of people who’ve had interesting experiences,” Kay said. 

In terms of tuition, annual members may join twice a year — January to December, or August to July, for $30. Membership allows students to enroll in courses and also gives them special discounts at local businesses and around the university. Courses are $20, but they cost more if they include food, theater and travel — which is often the case. 

Normal classes are held once a week Monday through Thursday and may run for an hour and a half. There are also classes on Friday—called Free Friday—which typically involve a discussion, such as one on a health-related issue led by a physician or a meeting with an author.

Most of the students are in their 30s or older, and some students are retirees looking to keep sharp. 

“We welcome all mature adults who want to become part of an exciting program,” Nancy Hanley said. 

The courses are held in Vandiver Hall and use the same resources the traditional AU students use: Smart Boards, PowerPoint slides, video presentations and multimedia equipment. 

Nancy Hanley said the classes aren’t lecture-based, but rather, open discussions. The professors are mostly conversation leaders with active participation being the goal. 

“People who are leading the class are more facilitators,” student and teacher Kay said. 

In the coming semester, there are new courses, including a look into Frank Sinatra, AU theatre performances with dinner and pre-show curtain speeches, courses in World War I through World War II, smartphone photography and many others. 

Nancy Hanley is thankful for the university’s support of the program. 

“You feel a part of Anderson University,” she said. “They treat us royally.”

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