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University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Libraries

I look at your resume here. It's a partial history of leadership. Founder of the UNLV Center for Lifelong Learning for retired, semi retired residents. It's now called OLLI [Osher Lifelong Learning Institute]. Yes. People talk about that all the time. Good program. How did that come about? A woman named Stephanie Smith. She was working at the Jewish Family Services?that's why she was clearing her throat?and she was complaining (to Sari) about being rejected by all the UNLV deans. SARI: I was on the board of the Jewish Family Services at the time. PAUL: Sari said, ""Why don't you talk to my husband?"" I was doing continuing ed. So Stephanie showed up. Stephanie brought a guy from the Harvard program. His last name was Rush; I'm not sure of his first name. Shirley Harris was involved. Carrol Steedman was involved. Edythe Katz's husband?I don't know if they were married at the time?Gil Yarchever. We formed a group. Gil was involved. Oh, not Lloyd. No, no, no, Lloyd was gone. It was Gil. So we just sat and plotted. We gave them a place in Continuing Ed and the program grew very easily. It was called EXCELL at the time, Extended Education Center of Lifelong Learning. [15 years as EXCELL; 10 years as OLLI] Where were the classes held then? Anywhere there was space. And not on campus? No. But I had had the job of assigning unused space to the world. On campus. On campus, yes. It's the same thing I did in summer. I scheduled courses, too. And continuing ed uses unused space. We still don't have a continuing ed building, not because I didn't try to get one, but because I was always one upped by someone else. The popularity of those courses: describe that to me over the years. Continuing ed in general or just lifelong learning? Both of them, yes. They're tied together. Continuing ed has a big history on the campus. They were doing nurses' recertification, they were doing real estate, any kind of a certificate that didn't involve credit courses, non credit education. In fact, the policy at the time was if you were going to hire someone and pay their salary from your revenue that would be called a continuing ed course. That hasn't held up. As the deans wanted that money, they would do it themselves, too, but they weren't supposed to. But back then we did. So part of the dean of continuing ed's job was to schedule the courses. I already went to academic courses and if there was space available, we would use it. Then there was a three or four tiered rental agreement available for the outside world to use it. Government, nonprofits and then for profits, all of them used the campus, which was small. It wasn't very big at the time. The policy stayed as the thing grew. I think that's interesting. I don't know that I was aware that it had a Jewish Family Services connection to it. Well, yes. Why did that happen? PAUL: Stephanie Smith was either working there or a volunteer. SARI: She worked there in the office and I was on the board and I hung around a lot, did a lot of work for them. PAUL: And Stephanie was familiar with the Harvard program in Cambridge and she knew that I was a Harvard graduate. So that was another connection to put all of us together. SARI: She and I just sat around a couple of times for several hours and just talked about things especially education. Stephanie was very excited about education and said she desperately missed going to those classes. I told her that Paul had some ideas and she should go and talk to him. That's great how that turned out and the popularity is just constantly growing. So in those early days what were some of the favorite first classes? PAUL: Well, it was done a little bit differently then; everything changes. But the idea from Stephanie was that there would be no leader or teacher of the class. You'd pick a topic. So, for example, one topic was China and Sig Stein, a local pharmacist, that was his hobby, China. So that was a very popular class. I don't know what they have now. Soapbox with an open topic course. I don't know if we had one of those. But whatever the local person was interested in they did.