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Living to learn

Emeritus CollegePop-up books one day, politics another.

Mary Finley wouldn’t have missed those or any of the scores of other classes she’s taken in the Emeritus College.

As a regular student in the Emeritus College, Finley has learned about global climate change, religion, gardening, famous Texas women and dozens more topics she might never have explored otherwise.

“My original background was art, but I don’t want to go and just take art classes,” said Finley, who is a retired assistant director of the University Union. “I wouldn’t be learning as much. I wouldn’t be broadening my horizons. Emeritus College gives an opportunity in my circle of friends to have wider conversations on a wider array of subjects.”

Emeritus College is in its fifth year and has been featured recently on some local and regional news sites. It serves more than 400 students age 50 and older. Most classes are one 90-minute session on a specific topic such as art, history, social sciences, literature, health, language and more.

Classes meet in Marquis Hall on Mondays and Wednesdays and at Robson Ranch on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Center for Achievement and Lifelong Learning, part of the Division of Community Engagement, oversees the Emeritus College and offers about 125 different subjects each year, and that variety brings many students like Finley back each semester.

She also appreciates the sense of community of the college atmosphere.

“The learning part is wonderful, but the camaraderie is great, too,” she said. “It gives you more opportunity to interact and get involved in your community. I think it’s one of the most important programs the university offers.”

Jean Greenlaw, a retired teacher education professor, has taught in the Emeritus College since the beginning, and she also has attended about 30 classes each year as well because she enjoys the “intellectual stimulation” she receives in both the teacher and student roles.

“That’s what brings most people to these,” Greenlaw said. “They are basically educated people who don’t want to sit around and rot in their retirement years.”

Emeritus CollegeGreenlaw has taught classes about women in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Another touched on Amazing Texas Women.

“The only thing I miss in retirement is teaching, so here I get to do it again,” Greenlaw said. “I also love research.”

She said she is not a historian, but she is a researcher and a storyteller. She enjoys both aspects.

She said she also is actively trying to recruit others with expertise in a variety of disciplines to teach sessions in the Emeritus College.

Students in the Emeritus College are interested in such a variety of topics that the subject matter is less important than the teacher’s enthusiasm for teaching it, she said.

“Present something you’re passionate about,” Greenlaw said. “To me, if you’re going to be a teacher, you have to be passionate. The opportunity to share ideas with people is what’s important.”

Bill Kamman, a retired history professor, said he’s been attending classes in the Emeritus College since it began and has appreciated the intellectual and social stimulation.

He has found classes on terrorism and health and fitness, among many others, fascinating.

“You can dabble in whatever strikes your interest,” Kamman said.  “Membership allows a participant to take as many classes as he chooses.  It's intellectually stimulating, and it's fun.”

  • Submit your proposal by Nov. 15 for a class you could teach. Contact Marilyn Wagner at 940-565-3487.

—Matthew Zabel, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

(Above, Ray and Kathleen Wazny are among a classroom of students in an Emeritus College lecture. above, left, Bob and Mary Sullivan try their hand at the organ. Photos by Johnny Carroll)

Posted on: Tue 05 November 2013

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