OLLI at Illinois and the
National Endowment
for the Humanities

OLLI at Illinois is pleased and proud to continue its collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities in the new year.

This partnership represents a rich addition to the educational programs that OLLI offers, and a wonderful opportunity to work together with the exceptional resources on campus and within the community. The NEH mission includes continuing education and lifelong learning as one of its platforms. The materials they produce are intended for a broad audience, and OLLI at Illinois is a natural and congenial constituency for this kind of outreach at the local level. Because many of these materials (and related teaching guides) are already among the holdings of the campus and community libraries, this connection is further strengthened.

In early 2014, OLLI at Illinois took the first steps toward this NEH collaboration by holding a day-long series of meetings that introduced the contours of the proposed partnership to the OLLI Board; representatives from the Curriculum and Study Group Committees; and the leadership of the University of Illinois Library, the Champaign Public Library, and the Urbana Free Library. These meetings were attended by the Deputy Chair and Senior Program Officer (Office of Public Programs) of the NEH.

OLLI at Illinois convened a Working Group of members to steer the foundational work of this partnership. A planning meeting in July 2014 by the OLLI-NEH Working Group produced the following statement: “The OLLI-NEH Working Group can serve as a generator and incubator of ideas that will resonate with OLLI’s membership and the institute’s campus and community partners. The planned schedule of events is chosen to dovetail with the plans of the OLLI Curriculum and Study Group Committees and other relevant areas within OLLI – and to enhance OLLI’s current programming through the development of new activities.”

OLLI launched the pilot year of this project in fall 2014. Assessment was an important part of these efforts, as the OLLI staff and the Working Group evaluated the interest in and success of these programs. Reviews of all activities were extremely enthusiastic, with particular interest in documentary films, history, arts, and discussion groups that utilize the supporting educational materials.

In summer 2017, the Working Group reached its conclusion, having generated successful program templates and scores of ideas that will now reside with OLLI’s Board and standing committees – most especially the Study Group Committee, which will build on the models established during the pilot phase to develop fruitful new study groups using NEH materials.

Other activities – the annual Jefferson Lecture, the weeklong Documentary Film Festival – have become essential parts of the OLLI calendar. They will continue in 2017-2018, and new activities and programs will continue to be announced as the plans are finalized.



Film screening and discussion

Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

Post-film discussion moderated by OLLI member and landscape architecture scholar Jerry Soesbe

Jefferson Lecture

Live-streaming of Martha Nussbaum’s lecture on Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame. Watch or read the full lecture online.

Introduction and post-lecture discussion moderated by Professor Vicki Mahaffey, OLLI instructor and Clayton and Thelma Kirkpatrick Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois.

Educational Travel

OLLI day-trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden, following on discussions related to Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

OLLI-NEH Documentary Film Festival

Screenings of five NEH-funded documentary films during the week of June 12, with introductions by OLLI director and instructor Christine Catanzarite and post-film discussions moderated by members of the OLLI and university community –

June 12A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America (James Goodman Dobbins, OLLI instructor, professor, and epidemiologist, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control).

June 13 – No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII (OLLI members Jo Thomas, writer and editor, The New York Times; and Bonnie Hudson, former print journalist)

Part of the NEH initiative “Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War”. Learn more at http://www.wmm.com/filmcatalog/pages/c820.shtml.

June 14 – Eames: The Architect and the Painter (Linda Coleman, OLLI Board Chair and instructor; and Sharon Williams, OLLI member and licensed interior designer)

Learn more at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/charles-ray-eames-the-architect-and-the-painter-watch-the-full-documentary-film/1950/.

June 15 –Freedom Riders (OLLI member Denise Taylor)
Part of the NEH project “Created Equal”.

June 16 – The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today (Professor Jay Rosenstein, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director-writer-producer)

Learn more at http://www.jayrosenstein.com/pages/lord.html.

Study Group

Sharing Our Latino-American Stories to Enrich Understanding

Sharon Williams, Coordinator; Marty Sierra-Perry, Luis Cuza, John McCord, Bill Breeding, Claudia Reich, and Norman Miller, facilitators

Organized around the documentary film When Two Worlds Collide and the six-part documentary series Latino Americans. Spring 2017.


The History of the Broadway Musical

Christine Catanzarite, Instructor

Incorporated the six-part documentary series Broadway: The American Musical. Learn more at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/. Spring 2017.



Jennifer Hain Teper, Head of Preservation Services, University Library
From Wheat Starch Paste to Hard Drive Space: Preserving Illinois’ Legacy of Knowledge in All its Forms

(in conjunction with the American Library Association’s Preservation Week and the University Library’s extensive ongoing preservation projects, many of which are supported by the NEH).

Film Screening and Discussion

Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History – watch the full film online

Post-film discussion with U of I students and Iraq/Afghanistan veterans Garrett T. Anderson and Patricia Starks, moderated by OLLI Board member and best-selling military historian Frank Chadwick.

Co-sponsored by the Champaign Public Library and the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education.

Jefferson Lecture

Live-streaming of Ken Burn's lecture on Race in America – watch or read the full lecture online

Introduction and post-lecture discussion moderated by John Bennett, Chair of the OLLI-NEH Working Group and OLLI instructor, and Linda Coleman, OLLI Board member and instructor.

OLLI-NEH Documentary Film Series

Screenings of five NEH-funded documentary films during the week of June 20, with introductions and related post-film discussions moderated by OLLI members.

The Loving Story - part of the Created Equal series (John Bennett)

Willa Cather: The Road is All (Linda Coleman) – watch the full film online

Broadway: The American Musical – “Putting It Together”(Eve Harwood, OLLI Board member and instructor)

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (Connie Hosier, OLLI committee member and instructor)

Coney Island (Chris Catanzarite, OLLI director and instructor)


Professor Brant Houston, (Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting, Department of Journalism) – Changing Demographics, Changing Communities – Dateline: Illinois (based on a demographic study of Illinois that is supported by funding from the NEH). Spring 2016.

Study Groups

John McCord, facilitatorKen Burns' Baseball documentary series. Summer 2015 .

Sharon Williams, facilitator (member, OLLI-NEH Working Group) – The Armory Show: America’s Art Awakening. Spring 2016.


Film Screenings and Discussions

Freedom Riders documentary film screening at Champaign Public Library, with post-film discussion co-moderated by History Department Professor and OLLI instructor Mark Leff and OLLI Board Chair Tim Smith  - part of the Created Equal series

Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the Making of the American City documentary film screening and post-lecture discussion with director-producer Judith McBrien (Chicago, Archimedia Productions), moderated by John Bennett, followed by reception at OLLI http://thearchimediaworkshop.org/burnhamfilm/home.html.

Jefferson Lecture

Annual Jefferson Lecture by Anna Deavere Smith – live-streaming event at OLLI, with introduction by John Bennett and Linda Coleman – watch the full lecture online

Educational Travel

OLLI day-trip to Chicago – architectural tour led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, following on discussions related to Make No Little Plans

Study Group

Frank Chadwick, Craig Cutbirth, Bonnie Hudson, and Tim Smith, co-facilitators and OLLI Board members/officers -–The Roosevelts, based on the PBS series by Ken Burns
Spring Session 2015