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The History of ILR BW

The Institute for Learning in Retirement began on a national level in 1989 as part of the well-known Elderhostel program. Elderhostel programs offer seniors the opportunity to travel to various campus facilities, enjoy classes and interact with their peers. For those who are unable to travel, the ILR provides a program near home for seniors to participate in educational programs designed for them. 

In the spring of 1992, an ILR group at Baldwin-Wallace College (now Baldwin Wallace University) in Berea was formed at the request of then-President Neal Malicky. Fifteen persons from the community joined members of the ILR committee at a meeting to gauge interest in adult learning. The committee used these findings to develop a six-week “test the waters” course, in which a different topic would be presented each week to help determine future content. A subsequent open house to introduce the concept attracted 50 people, and 25 signed up for the course. Since that time, participation has grown substantially, and now numbers more than 1,400 members. The initial invitation was sent to prospective members by Pat Dorr, ILR Chairperson, and said in part:

“The Institute for Learning in Retirement, which is sponsored by Baldwin-Wallace College, is an organization that is governed by its members will be offered in the fall of 1992. Three committees, Publicity, Membership, and Curriculum, are being established to assist in the ongoing planning.”

Early members of the ILR were Jane Cavanaugh, Floyd Adams, Doris Snedeker. They were the first in a long line of hardworking, dedicated members to further the aims and goals of ILR. Fact-finding trips and organizational retreats led to academic terms and class sessions in 1992. Those first committees set up procedures for class registration and searches for volunteer presenters. As the ILR continued to add new members and new classes, a Steering Committee was formed to coordinate the activities of the committees as well as map out the future.

As the type and subjects of the classes changed, it was suggested that other educational opportunities might be offered to complement the classroom activities. Three areas were selected: cultural events in the Cleveland area, short trips of a day or so to places of interest near the Cleveland area, and longer trips in the United States and beyond. Many of trips were related to classes. One of the first of these was a trip to Ireland to complement Floyd Adam’s “History of Ireland” class.

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