Emeritus College offers education for older learners

Emeritus College offers education for older learners

October 24
00:19 2012

Jason Yang / Senior Staff Writer

Many adults approaching the age of 60 might have relaxation and retirement on their minds, but don’t tell that to students at the Emeritus College.

The Emeritus College is an organization at UNT that offers affordable classes on a variety of topics for students older than 50. The classes have no quizzes or tests, and are strictly for education.

“It offers such a wide variety of cheap classes in a great facility,” said Emeritus student Nadine Halstead, 80. “It offers a great opportunity for us older people who want to keep learning.”

Emeritus registrar Jordan Williams said when the college opened in 2010, it only had 262 students. Positive word of mouth, presentations at local meetings and events, and informative fliers helped boost that number to 356 in 2011.

This fall the program has attracted about 287 students, and Williams said the college’s goal is to have about 400 students by next semester.

The classes take place at UNT and Texas Christian University.

Other universities offer specific programs for older learners, but the Emeritus College has classes on topics ranging from water reuse to health literacy to tai chi, Williams said.

The college also offers mini online courses so that students can get certificates in specific fields.

“It allows us to learn new interests or hobbies, or reinforce the things we learned in the past,” Halstead said. “And we make new friends who we hang out with in and outside of class.”

The college was the brainchild of its founding dean, James R. Miller. Miller wanted to provide classes for older students who want to learn without worrying about grades. Miller died in December 2011, but his ideas for the college were already established.
Emeritus College offers more than 90 classes.

Retired faculty and professors or university professors volunteer to teach the 90-minute classes. Once a student has paid the $140 sign-up fee, he or she can take as many classes as they want. Guests can also pay a $15 session fee, and if he or she is interested, they can pay the remaining $125, Williams said.

Volunteer Yoki Moodywong said that depending on the class content and professor, attendance could jump from 20 to 110.

Williams said the fee from each student goes toward parking and room rental fees. He said the college hopes to continue growing in order to apply for grants to help sustain the program.

History professor Randolph Campbell teaches an Emeritus College class about the history of Sam Houston.

He said it was fun to teach an audience with a genuine interest in the subject, and the class participation is outstanding.

“Nobody is asleep, unlike my survey class,” Campbell said. “Even when the class ends, they still have questions.”

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