All Life is Learning - LLA Newsletter for August 2013

August 2013

What is the Lifelong Learning Academy?

The Lifelong Learning Academy, now two years old, was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMU’s Extended University Programs. The Academy offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment.

What do we do?

We offer short, one day per week classes for one to four weeks. Class sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer classes in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several class sessions in one week, and more evening classes. Academy classes and activities are developed by its members with the support of the staff of Extended University Programs.

We need your ideas for class topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call Joyce Dekau at 269-387-5357 or send her an email. She will forward your ideas to our curriculum committee.

LLA turns 2Lifelong Learning Academy Turns 2
Celebrate With Us

Thursday, August 22, 2013
4 - 6 p.m.
Miller Auditorium at WMU

The Lifelong Learning Academy Advisory Board cordially invites you to Miller Auditorium for our annual membership meeting and help us celebrate 2 successful years. Enjoy refreshments and fellowship with other Lifelong Learning Academy members, meet the Advisory Board and view educational exhibits and exciting demonstrations.

Voices of Members

This month’s voice is Harold Beu

When I was a high school teacher of social studies and mathematics, I would tell my students that the secret to keeping zest in one’s life, that is to be young at heart, is to learn. Learning is the way to keeping the mind alive and our lives engaged.

As a LLA student, I am having marvelous fun and found intellectual stimulation. I was enlightened about the meaning of sustainability from experts and public officials. I was challenged as to what was really funny about dark humor. Many of us engaged in a good conversation after an instructive lecture on educational reform. And finally, I learned about the dangers and promise of religion by studying several faith traditions. In every case, I found the quality of the teaching to be excellent and the classroom filled with eager learners.

May I suggest to you, that if you want to keep zest in your life, to be young at heart, to open you mind to new ideas, and find a community of like-minded learners, that you consider carefully enrolling in one or more of the courses in LLA.

Recognizing our Instructors

Fascinating topics and great instructors are at the heart of the Lifelong Learning Academy. Usually very busy people, instructors volunteer their time to develop and teach their class. Several people have taught more than one class in our first years of existence. Two of these very popular teachers are Ron Kramer and Bill Combs.

kramer-lgDr. Ronald Kramer currently is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Criminal Justice Program. Surprisingly, Ron occasionally teaches the sociology of sport and the sociological history of baseball and knows the sport inside and out. He is a lifetime baseball fan, having coached little league and still playing slow-pitch Senior Softball in three summer leagues. He is a big fan of the Cleveland Indians, his home area. This summer Ron taught Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the third time. All three sessions played to sell-out crowds.

Dr. William Combs, a much sought after instructor, is a WMU Emeritus Professor of English. He has taught two courses analyzing and critiquing specific American novels. Bill grew up in Mississippi and attended Ole Miss where he often saw William Faulkner there although he never talked with him. Bill obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard. His classes have received outstanding comments and he is constantly nominated to teach more classes. Keep your eyes peeled.

Travel With Us

We invite you to check out our various opportunities to travel to fascinating places, each with a special theme of history, art, music, science, etc. While these trips may not be halfway across the globe, they still offer you a new way of seeing and being. So come, travel with us.

Day trips

ruthmereIn September there will be a day trip to Elkhart to visit their New York Central Museum and their notable architectural treasure including Ruthmere, a mansion from the early 1900’s filled with art of the period.

In early October we will have a better than ever Art Prize visit with interesting venues and High Tea at the University Club of Grand Rapids. Have you been curious about Michigan State’s new Broad museum that looks crooked? We will visit there and other sights in Lansing on campus and off.

In November we’ll head for Dearborn to see the Arab-American National Museum, then to the Henry Ford for a visit to their American treasures and stop for dinner at our favorite Common Grill.

Overnight trips

family-vacations-gettysburg-national-military-parkIn late September we’ll celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a five day sojourn to Gettysburg, Antietam, and Harper’s Ferry, all notable historic places, and we will also stop to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Falling Water.

Then in October a whole delightful and restful three days at Amish Acres with all meals and two wonderful plays performed by Equity actors plus several tours to learn about the craftsmen of the area. And an amazing price!


Believe it or not, 2014 is already in the planning stages and you’ll have many exciting trips to distant shores among them Cuba, Toronto, Minneapolis, a golfing trip Up North and a trip to Petoskey to follow Hemingway. Then there will be day trips to our favorite Purple Rose plus a couple of new theaters we have discovered, and chamber music in Chicago and, and…!

So jump on board, it promises to be an exciting year.

Come Join Us! Spotlight on volunteers

07-13-volunteers "Volunteers are the wind behind the sail" of many nonprofit organizations. This certainly is true for the Lifelong Learning Academy, says Marilyn Vineyard, coordinator of volunteers for the Academy.

Marilyn’s career was in nonprofit work, primarily with the American Red Cross. She says, "the key to having satisfied volunteers includes matching their interests, skills and availability with meaningful tasks and projects needed to fulfill the mission of the organization."

The Academy continually evolves in its use of volunteers - here are some examples of committees and other volunteer jobs currently in place:
  • Instructors (without them we don’t have courses)
  • Travel Committee - Trip planners and guides (without them we don’t have trips)
  • Curriculum Committee - Responsible for course development (short and long term) and format, instructor recruitment and assignment of liaisons for the instructors and courses - this is a large committee with two subcommittees - a niche for almost anyone
  • Advisory Board - our oversight group responsible to WMU and who serve as ambassadors
  • Assessment and Evaluation Committee - Plans and implements course and trip evaluations and instructor feedback used in future planning
  • Finance & Development - Two subgroups under formation - one for monitoring our financial condition and the other for generating revenue/resources
  • Marketing Committee - Develops /edits/oversees distribution of printed material and website content
  • Membership and Nominations Committee - Encourages membership with community outreach; recruits advisory board members
  • Social Events Committee - creates events like the January Thaw and the August celebration to bring members and guests together and keep "learning"
  • Technology Committee - Technology "guinea pigs" whose job is to look for ways we can use technology effectively…you don’t have to be a "geek" to help
  • Volunteer Services - Helps with administrative tasks - registrations, filing, materials for instructors, computer database maintenance
"The Academy provides opportunities to use knowledge and skills acquired over a lifetime and to keep learning. I have met folks I wouldn’t otherwise meet, taken classes on topics about which I knew little and traveled to places I wouldn’t think about on my own." (Marilyn Vineyard)

Call or write Joyce Dekau, program coordinator at 269-387-5357 or e-mail her at to request personalized follow-up about any of the volunteer positions noted above.

Check Out Our Website

The WMU Lifelong Learning Academy offers many interesting and enjoyable classes and travel experiences for adults of all ages who wish to continue learning about our world, our histories and ourselves. The Lifelong Learning Academy web page provides an easy way of staying up to date on the various activities and classes that are offered. On the site you can find out about any upcoming events, such as the August 22 celebration of LLA’s 2-year anniversary.

Click on the words “courses and trips” and you will be connected to the catalog for the upcoming courses and trips. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or an instructor, (and we would be delighted to have you join us), then instructions about how to set the ball rolling can be found by clicking on the relevant phrase on the left-hand side of the page. If you would like to become a member or renew your membership, then you can find the link here as well.

We keep the website updated with the latest information on the fascinating trips to places such as Gettysburg, Chicago and Amish country, so please check back at the web site periodically to see what new and exciting programs for adults of all ages are in store. Of course, if you have comments on any of the LLA programs or suggestions for future activities, we would love to hear them and so there is also a place on our web site where you can submit them.

The WMU Lifelong Learning Academy’s website can be found at


Contents of this issue:

Lifelong Learning Academy Turns 2 - Celebrate With Us
Voices of Members
Recognizing Our Instructors
Travel With Us
Come Join Us! Spotlight on Volunteers
Check Out Our Website


Are you a member of the Academy? If you are, you know your $35 membership fee includes many benefits including discounted class fees. A new benefit is a three year membership fee of $90 which is a savings of $15.

Beginning in the Winter / Spring session you may register for a class up to the day the class begins.

Do you own a MAC? Your member number (on your member card) can be used in any Apple store, including our bookstore, for an educational discount for any MAC equipment.

Fall Session

Watch for your Fall Program schedule. You will be receiving it soon. There are 27 exciting classes offered beginning in September and extending into November. Many choices for you.

Registration begins soon and you can register up to the day before a class begins.

Advisory Board Members

Jo Arnold
Robert Beam
Ron Crowell
Mary Doud
Linda Dunn
Carol Haenicke
Judith Halseth
Marianne Novak Houston
Harold Ray
Gillian Stoltman
Peg Strong
Shirley Swanson
Pete Thomas
Bill Venema
Marilyn Vineyard
Molly Williams
D. Terry Williams

WMU Ex-officio Members
Janet Hahn
Bob Miller

Extended University Programs
Dawn Gaymer
Joyce Dekau

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