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Waterbury campus earns grant for lifelong learning

by Richard Veilleux - September 5, 2006

UConn's Waterbury campus has won a $100,000 grant to expand non-credit programming for the region's citizens.

The competitive grant, awarded by the Osher Foundation of San Francisco, Calif., will be used to develop the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, based at the Waterbury campus.

The institute will also be used to enhance lifelong learning programs at the Torrington and Hartford campuses.

"We're thrilled to be one of this year's recipients," says William Pizzuto, interim associate vice provost for Waterbury, Hartford, and Torrington and director of the Waterbury Campus.

"There's a huge unfilled need in this area for lifelong learning programs, and we're perfectly positioned to offer those programs. The new institute allows us to build on our already robust community outreach efforts."

Brian Chapman, an assistant director for the College of Continuing Studies at the Avery Point Campus, has been hired to direct the Osher program and other community outreach efforts at the Waterbury campus and, eventually, at Hartford and Torrington.

Chapman began his new job Sept. 1.

The grant is renewable for a second and third year, based on performance.

If, after that time, the program has proven successful and sustainable, the Osher Foundation will consider whether to endow the program with a $1 million grant.

In fall 2000, the Osher Foundation began to consider programs targeted toward more mature students, who are not necessarily well served by standard continuing education curricula.

Courses in continuing education programs generally attract students eager to accumulate units to complete degrees or to acquire career upgrade skills.

By contrast, older students, many of whom are at retirement age, are often interested in learning for the joy of it - without homework or examinations.

The programs target people 50 years old and older.

Retirees, who are likely to have spare time and are interested in learning everything from landscaping to financial management, are a key audience.

An assessment of the needs of the Waterbury area, done prior to submission of the grant application, suggested the programming would be well received.

The assessment found that more than 120,000 people living within 50 miles of the campus are over 50 years old.

Lifelong learning programs have been offered in Storrs, through the Center for Learning in Retirement, for more than 16 years.

The University also has offered an adult learning program at the West Hartford campus for more than a decade.

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