OLLI Receives Largest Individual Member Gift From Late Member Robert Lang

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Stony Brook University has received its largest individual member gift ever from one of its long-time members, Robert Lang. This is the largest single gift beyond the originating endowments received from The Bernard Osher Foundation in 2007. OLLI at SBU is one of 125 Osher Institutes in the United States, all made possible by generous grants and endowments from The Bernard Osher Foundation.

OLLI at SBU is a volunteer-based program that offers noncredit workshops, lectures, social events and day trips designed to appeal to those 50+ years of age. According to Liz Wilson, interim director of OLLI, it’s designed to promote and support lifelong learning through programming of interest. Members are encouraged to join committees to help lead the program. “We currently have more than 750 active volunteer members,” Wilson said. “The OLLI curriculum is developed and curated by OLLI members for OLLI members.”

Robert Lang and Virginia Amaro Tanner.
Robert Lang and Virginia Amaro Tanner.

Lang, who passed away in 2022, was an OLLI member for five years and named the OLLI program as a beneficiary of his retirement plan. His life partner, Virginia Amaro Tanner, also an OLLI member, said that after Lang retired as a physicist at 78, he signed up for OLLI to start taking workshops. “Bob was always learning and wanting to try new things,” said Tanner. “He would take workshops such as joy of writing, jazz, memoir writing and physics. He was impressed by the workshop leaders and found all of the workshops he attended stimulating and interesting.” The thing Lang loved the most, Tanner said, was that there was no homework, no tests and no grades.

According to Tanner, Lang encouraged her to join OLLI during the pandemic, when they’d take workshops over Zoom together. “Because OLLI was a big part of Bob’s life, he wanted to make sure it continued,” explained Tanner. “Bob would love for his gift to make OLLI accessible to everyone so they can have the same opportunities he had.”

According to Peter Diplock, vice provost for continuing, professional, and executive education, “It’s because of thoughtful and engaged members like Bob that the OLLI program is so successful. He was an important member of OLLI, and we are grateful for his support, which will help ensure that the program will continue to thrive in the future. ”

According to Diplock, Lang’s gift will be impactful in providing scholarships and broadening membership access to new members who may not have the resources to join. In addition, the funds will help support OLLI community events that promote and celebrate a culture of intergenerational and lifelong learning.

“As a lifelong learner himself, I know Bob would be thrilled to know how this gift has enabled him to continue supporting OLLI members,” said Tanner.

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