Our mission is to provide a curriculum of intellectually stimulating learning opportunities and special events for persons 50 years of age or older.
BOARD of DIRECTORS
Mary Jane Beardsley
In 1997 the Portland area established a senior college organized by Rabbi Harry Skye. In Lewiston, an advisory board was established in 2000 with Bethel Shields as the first chair. That year four courses were offered. There were no entrance requirements, grades or tests. The courses were for people over 50, and the volunteer teachers had to be over 50.
Bethel Shields brought in Barbara Randall, Madeline Giguere, Sally Belisle, Mildred Bickford and Pat Lamaire. This became the first advisory board for Senior College courses at the Lewiston-Auburn campus of the University of Southern Maine. Terri Pelletier and Sandi Croft from the USM staff were the liaisons with the new Senior College.
The new program, “Food for Thought”, was established as a monthly luncheon series of diverse presenters and subjects. The Board of Directors established by-laws and written policies to ensure a well-run organization. Most of our organization was now run by volunteers.
The Board of Directors established yearly membership meetings, and offered scholarships to the students at USM. It is a unique organization in that volunteers devise the curriculum and recruit instructors.
With the pandemic in 2020, came many changes. All senior college classes and events went virtual. We adapted. Virtual classes opened up new possibilities. Our ZOOM classes and events could be offered anytime. Presenters and instructors, as well as students, could attend from anywhere in Maine, across the country, and even around the world.
In the fall of 2022, we began offering in-person, online and hybrid classes to meet the needs of all seniors.
In 2022, the board decided to become a non-profit organization (501c3). While our ties to the university remain strong, this option offers us more autonomy and versatility to meet our members’ needs.