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Recruiting & Retaining Faculty in OLLIs: Most Challenging & Important Developmental Task. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network Annual Conference 2011 National Resource Center of OLLIs. Sharon Sokoloff, Ph.D., M.S.G. - Director Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ Brandeis University.

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Recruiting retaining faculty in ollis most challenging important developmental task

Recruiting & Retaining Faculty in OLLIs:Most Challenging & Important Developmental Task

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network

Annual Conference 2011

National Resource Center of OLLIs

Sharon Sokoloff, Ph.D., M.S.G. - Director

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ Brandeis University


‘Courses’ are the ♥ of our programs.

….must keep our eye on the ball


Lack of a Common Language & Diverse Models

The terms or names lifelong learning institutes call their courses and leaders vary from one program to another. The professional backgrounds, expertise in a topic and teaching experience vary as well.

  • Three terms, e.g., Faculty, Study Group Leaders, Peer Leaders and others terms may all describe the same concept

  • A ‘course’ may meet for 1 or 2 sessions or 10 to 12 sessions

  • Which model is the ‘best’? How do we measure ‘best’? As a field, we have much to learn in this area – over time.

  • Lacking a common language requires we define the terms we use when we talk and work together in order to understand one another


Brandeis olli 3 models
Brandeis OLLI: 3 Models

  • ‘Peer-led’ study groups in our CoreProgram: ≈ 40 to 46 study groups in each of 2 10-week semesters; 3 days/week -- ♥ of the program

  • Rapaporte Seminars led by Brandeis faculty

  • Lifelong Learning Instructorship – advanced Brandeis doctoral students lead seminars


Peer-led Study Groups are the focus of the next part of this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

  • Former professors teaching their subject

  • Attorney leading course on Supreme Court or M.D. on Medical Ethics

  • Passion: Engineer developing a course on Louis D. Brandeis or Iliad-Odyssey-Aneid

  • All leaders complete a standardized course proposal including a syllabus, reading material, course objectives


Curriculum Committee this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

Study Group Support Committee

  • Recruiting and Retaining Peer Course Leaders is done by two complementary committees: CC and SGSC. A liaison from CC sits on SGSC meetings and vice versa – collaboration.

  • Monthly meetings of ‘The Core’ including CC Chair, SGSC Chair, Director and Assistant Director. 30,000 mile view


RECRUITING this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

Effective Curriculum Committee and Chair are vital

Establish goals to guide CC’s work, #, type…

Use different methods to reach out

Talk with your membership for ideas, then follow-up

Be proactive and persevering

Work parallel paths, short and long term (the pipeline)

It takes years and must be on-going

If you’re not moving forward – you are moving back


RECRUITING (continued) this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

▪ Keep antennae up – Intentional conversations to recruit

  • Mentor/identify mentor for potential leaders, if needed

  • Ask course leaders for suggestions for future leaders

  • Make it personal, supportive and fun – CC liaison

    • Offer “How to become a course leader?” courses

    • Ask: “Do you have a topic you think about, would like to invest in, to learn more about and challenge yourself?”

    • ‘Play’, e.g., learning objectives, 1 – 10, reading material

    • Liaison’s role – be proactive, available

    • Suggest experienced course leaders with related expertise or methods to mentor as well


Retaining
RETAINING this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

  • The better a course leader is, the more class members engage/learn/thrive, the higher the “happiness quotient” –course leaders that are fulfilled this way stay

  • Being appreciated gives course leaders meaning, purpose, joy; feeds the will to live (not documented, anecdotes Marc, Leon)

  • Support course leaders who need it. Study Group Support Committee (SGSC) – complement to CC – one of most important developments to improve curriculum and leaders

  • Each course leader has a SGSC liaison; Identify potential problems as early as possible and intervene, ideally 1st session

  • Highly recommend considering this/a similar model


Retaining continued
RETAINING (Continued) this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.

  • Value course leaders – each program expresses appreciation in their own way; OLLI at Brandeis – half fee/1st choice

  • Invite course leaders to do extra activities, e.g.:

    • Open House “mini-courses”; it says “you’re good!”

    • Speak at Study Group Leader orientation – an honor

  • Remind course leaders:

    • How much they learn by leading (Cognitive vitality)

    • They are role models for younger people in their lives AND this is a legacy

    • Ask: Why do you continue to lead courses; “…the most rewarding professional experience of my life”


Not retaining
NOT this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters. RETAINING

Achieving best possible curriculum requires CC and SGSC to determine when a course leader doesn’t give members a positive experience; When and how to intervene and/or if/when it is time to let go of a course leader is hard and necessary

  • Evaluation/feedback forms (twice/semester), observations and members’ talking with us – “not good” – ON ALERT/TAKE ACTION

  • Give course leader another opportunity and input about how to improve; Leaders who are open and work to improve, continue leading and often succeed. Many leaders who begin as an “iffy” leader become outstanding leaders (some of the best) over time.

  • When a leader is not open to input after a 2nd chance (or a 3rd), it is not fair to members to retain the leader. Much discussion among CC, SGSC and staff about this – painful for all


Rapaporte seminars brandeis faculty
Rapaporte Seminars: Brandeis this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.Faculty

  • Rap Sem are a favorite OLLI program, outside of the core 2 10-week semesters. There is a separate fee for these seminars.

  • 5 mornings/in one week/3 hours each day (15 hours). Take place in early Jan and early June – quiet campus.

  • Taught by Brandeis faculty who are paid (well) – a strong incentive.

  • RECRUIT: Director consulting with Vice Provost identifies faculty who are dynamic, excellent teachers and teach topics in most demand, e.g., history/government, arts. Of the 20 faculty who have led 26 seminars (as of this coming summer) most have become are marketing team with their colleagues. They love these seminars and support our outreach to other faculty. OLLI members hear faculty in various programs on campus and recommend them.

  • RETAIN: It’s not our aim to retain these faculty although there are exceptions, e.g., Prof Flesch has done 6 Shakespeare plays and this summer will do Hitchcock – it is a love fest! The same formula – happy faculty and happy members lead to an interest on the part of faculty to continue for another seminar.


Advanced brandeis doctoral student seminar
Advanced this presentation – as they are the model in our Core Program, i.e., 2 10-week semesters.Brandeis Doctoral Student Seminar

  • The Model: 6 sessions, each 1½ hours over 3 or 6 weeks. These seminars are also outside the core 2 10-week semesters; separate fee for these seminars. These students are all in the dissertation phase.

  • A new program, began this year – highly successful –

  • Also paid – a strong incentive.

  • RECRUIT: Director works with graduate school staff. “Put out Request for Proposal” and a team of three (Vice Provost, Director and Dean or Assistant Dean review and select top candidates.) Director meets with candidates. Rigorous process. These students are also highly enthusiastic about these programs (love teaching our members) and recommend their friends apply for next program.

  • RETAIN: Success sells! Gil’s program on Mozart had the most consistently high evaluation scores than this director has ever seen. Of 20 students – 19 of 20 scored Gil “10” on a scale of “1 to 10”. One person scored 9.876. Gil’s repeating this seminar in May/June.


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