Lifelong Learning program at Eckerd College
offers new beginnings for students and teachers alike
In an age when the concept of “retirement” is in the midst of revolution, full of complex economic realities and endless new horizons, there is a special place at the southernmost tip of St. Petersburg embracing the emerging “retire-less,” offering them the best of what’s to come.
With the motto “Where Curiosity Never Retires,” the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Eckerd College is a non-profit education program designed for 50+ adults with an insatiable desire to keep learning. Each year OLLI provides more than 300 intellectually stimulating non-credit classes, interest groups, local and international trips and special events for its 1,200 members throughout Pinellas County. While OLLI offers light and entertaining courses chronicling the history of your favorite TV shows, like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, the program also offers courses by one of the top well-respected leaders in the fine arts world, Dr. John Schloder. With over 30 years of museum experience, Dr. Schloder joins OLLI after a most impressive resume in the top tiers of fine arts administration. Hardly a career with humble beginnings, Schloder’s start in the arts world came at none other than the paintings department of the Musée du Louvre, where he specialized in sixteenth and seventeenth-century French art, and loved the Louvre so much he couldn’t bring himself to leave for almost a decade. “I was supposed to go for an internship and I ended up staying eight years,” Schloder confesses. “It’s just hard not to fall in love with the city of Paris.”
After earning his doctorate, Schloder returned to American to work at other world-class museums throughout the country, including St. Petersburg’s own Museum of Fine Arts, where he served as director until 2010. Leaving the museum and embracing a “retirement” lifestyles wasn’t quite the right fit for Dr. Schloder, who was soon approached about OLLI as a oppurtunity to teach the subject that will always be his first true love – Paris.
“When my sister heard I had taken a position teaching after leaving the museum, she asked in disbelief, ‘I thought you were retiring?!’ But joining OLLI and meeting so many interesting students and fellow teachers is such an unexpected gift of my career. I told my sister, ‘well, it actually turns out I’m busier now than I was before I retired!’”
But Schloder isn’t the only one finding new life through an affiliation with OLLI; his students are embracing the nuances of Parisian culture and the most sought-after secrets for tourists travelling to Paris, thanks to his France-focused classes that quickly reach capacity at 65 students per class. “Helping people navigate my favorite city is such a gift. It’s a whole new experience for me here.”
Check out OLLI’s Winter Term 2017 course catalog available Nov. 14 at eckerd.edu/OLLI or by calling 727-864-7600.