All posts by OLLI at NC State University

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at NC State University provides non-credit short courses, study trips, and special events for adults aged 50+. Topics are wide-ranging in the liberal arts and sciences, and we emphasize learning for the joy of learning. Programs range from one-time lectures to six-week courses, and we provide many opportunities to connect with others who share your interests. Although OLLI is a membership organization, and members receive priority registration, some of our programs are open to nonmembers as well. We invite you to join our community of learners!

Dave Milidonis Honored by NC State’s Association of Retired Faculty

Milidonis Award

OLLI’s military history instructor par excellence, Dave Milidonis, was awarded the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement by the Association of Retired Faculty at their Awards Luncheon on May 15th.  This award was initiated in 2010 by ARF to recognize annually a retiree who exemplifies dedication to higher education, and in the land grant tradition of NC State, who models what it means to be a servant of society.  Retired President of the Consolidated UNC System and NC State alumnus Dr. William C. Friday was the first recipient of the award that is named in his honor.

In the award presentation remarks, Dave was cited for his teaching excellence, for volunteering to teach five OLLI courses each academic year, and for being such a sought-after instructor that his courses routinely fill during the first day of registration!  He was also recognized for his work as founding Director of the National Veterans History Archival Institute, which records the stories of veterans for their families and for posterity, with videoed interviews being submitted to the Library of Congress as well as to the veterans and their loved ones.  In his acceptance remarks, Dave humbly gave those present one of his amazing history lessons in which he talked about the importance of our country’s history being taught and its veterans’ contributions never being forgotten by present and future generations of Americans.

In receiving this year’s award, Dave became the first honoree who is not a retired NCSU faculty member, and joined three previous Friday Award recipients who regularly teach for OLLI—Jim Clark (2012), Clay Stalnaker (2015) and Ben O’Neal (2017).

Dave was joined at the Awards Luncheon by OLLI members and devotees John Cudd, Harriet Grand, Carol Rahmani, Nancy Huber, and Marcia and Ed Thomas.


Carol Rahmani – OLLI member, former Advisory Council and Program Committee chair, currently serving on Program Committee.


James W. Clark, Jr.

Weymouth final

Consider this contrast:  Jimmy Clark, age 9, is one of seven children. He works in his family’s country store and service station on U.S.158 in Vaughan, N.C. He also delivers the daily newspaper and helps to harvest tobacco. As time permits, he does his homework and reads Agricultural Extension bulletins — “Insects 101” — about keeping pests out of those tobacco plants. He also collects bugs that are drawn to the store’s lights at night.

tobacco plant

Flash forward to 2018 and the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, where five distinguished Tar Heels are inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. One of them is James W. Clark, Jr., PhD. professor emeritus of English at NC State. OLLI members know him as Jim, a popular OLLI instructor. But they may not know that he’s the only one who’s taught a course every single year since the program began as Encore! So why does this erudite professor prefer OLLI to university teaching? “I don’t have to grade papers,” he quipped during an interview.

The Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by saluting its leading authors and encouraging great literature. Jim has degrees from UNC — with a scholarship as a national 4-H winner for a project in entomology — and from Duke. Today he focuses most of his scholarship on North Carolina’s “cultural geography” and literary history. He’s had a leadership role in those areas as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. He still serves as president of the North Caroliniana Society, which supports the North Carolina Collection at Chapel Hill and preserves and celebrates the state’s culture and history.


The leap from what Jim calls “bugs to books” wasn’t as broad as it sounds, he said, “because 4-H has a broad curriculum that stresses reading, writing and figuring as well as speaking and teaching.” His faculty mentor at State was Richard Walser, another member of the NC Literary Hall of Fame. “He was a great teacher and something of a rascal,” Jim said, “beloved and feared for his critical voice and bawdy sense of humor.”

Jim followed Walser in his roles at State and became director of the nation’s first Humanities Extension program, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, focusing on North Carolina writers in public TV programs and public school textbooks. He also developed “Talk About Writing” videos about North Carolina writers for classroom use. Proceeds from sales supported outreach to public school teachers. That outreach involved sending faculty members in the humanities — including Jim — to lead seminars around the state on literature and culture. And some faculty conducted summer writing seminars for 4-H youth at the county level. Jim has written a social history of this program, “Clover All Over: North Carolina’s First 4-H Century.”

The Lost Boy

But he may be best known as a champion of two literary figures: Thomas Wolfe and Paul Green. He’s been president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and is still on the editorial board of The Thomas Wolfe Review. Like Walser, he’s devoted many hours to teaching and writing about Wolfe, who had been Walser’s primary focus. Jim discovered Wolfe’s novella, “The Lost Boy,” at Harvard, and the UNC Press published the edition he’d edited in 1992. German and French editions followed.

Jim will teach a course on “The Amazing Genius of Paul Green,” whom he calls a Tar Heel polymath, in OLLI’s next semester. Jim considers him “this state’s most productive and well known playwright.” Green studied and later taught at UNC. Jim said he’s known best for such outdoor dramas as “The Lost Colony,” but won a Pulitzer in 1927 for “In Abraham’s Bosom,” a play about racism and education. A foundation in his name supports playwriting and progressive causes, chiefly racial justice. Jim served as the foundation’s president for a decade.

In addition to other major awards, in 2012 Jim received the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement. He says Friday “was like God for public education,” and that he worked with Paul Green on progressive issues. The award recognized Jim’s OLLI participation, leading writing workshops at senior living communities, and serving as historian of the state’s 4-H youth development program, based largely at State. Jim’s latest work, a social and political history of his family’s part of Warren County entitled “Finding and Keeping Vaughan: Our Hometown,” was published in November.

Dr Jim Coffee Cup

~ Barbara Haddad Ryan


Lisabona was Lisbon’s name in the sixteenth century. Lisabona came from Olisipo, the name the Romans had given the city more than a thousand years before – Municipium Cives Romanorum Felicitas Julia Olisipo. In the 1500s, amid the fever of the discovery of new maritime routes to countries where the commerce of spices and other riches originated, and driven by the hope of fortunes and fame to be had on those endeavors, the whole world converged into Lisabona. The crowds in the city center had Bretons, Catalans, Normans, Castilians, Genovese, Dutch, Venetian, Africans and, of course, Portuguese. Some came to spy, trying to get the secrets of maritime navigation the Portuguese had developed, others to try their fortune. The chroniclers of those days describe Lisabona as a cosmopolitan city, bustling with people, business and opportunities, the place to be within Europe.


My wife Amy and I just came back from a long vacation in Lisboa, as we Portuguese have been calling Lisbon for centuries. When we walked downtown, for a moment we got the feeling we had traveled back in time to the 1500s. We heard English, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, and Romanian and hardly any Portuguese. Nowadays these foreigners do not look for fortune or fame; they respond to the slogan Lisbon is the place to be this year. They follow the sun, they come to taste food specialties and wine vintages, to explore beautiful views, historical sites and monuments. They come looking for fun and leave their Pounds, Euros, Yuan, Rubles and Dollars in Portugal. The Portuguese are having a bonanza brought by tourism (more than 20 million people last year), albeit with possible downfalls down the road.


Amy and I joined the tourist crowds in Lisbon and throughout Portugal, visited many of the fantastic views and historical monuments, ate in many, many restaurants, mainly fish and seafood, trekked up the mountains, traveled down south to Algarve and basked on the beaches, absorbing the warm sun that crossed the cerulean blue sky, like none on earth. We visited museums and it seems now in Lisbon there is a museum for anything imaginable, some better than others. We visited a millenary church and monastery in Alcobaça with its cloisters, and some obscene golden altars, with beautiful art that centuries of foreign invasions, fires and earthquakes could not obliterate. In Lisbon the aqueduct from 1744 and its distribution water pools were the highlight of one of our days; I was born and raised in Lisbon but had never visited it. We traveled north to Coimbra’s University, one of the oldest in Europe, with its magnificent ancient library, then traveled to Nazaré’s promontory over the ocean, where the tallest wave in the world (78 Ft.) challenges ‘”crazy” surfers every year, and close to home we visited Cabo da Roca one more time, the most western point of continental Europe.

Thus, like all the other tourists, we joyfully, gladly and happily scattered our Dollars from the north to the south of Portugal.

Lisbon from water

Henrique Gomes, OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group Coordinator

It’s So Nice to Meet You Leona!

OLLI Member Tim Hoyt has found plenty of new interests during retirement and from his involvement with NC State’s lifelong learning program, first Encore and now OLLI. One of those is the Readers Theater Special Interest Group of which Tim is a founding member and coordinator. Here is a piece he has written to represent a conversation that could easily have taken place between two OLLI members……………….

2 women

Maxey:  It’s so nice to meet you, Leona.  I’m glad you’re taking the FDR Class.  I really admire the president and Eleanor.

Leona:  I’m glad to meet you, too, Maxey. The teacher is excellent.  Is this the only class you’re taking?

Maxey: Nope.  I’m taking two others. And I’m also involved in a SIG.

Leona:  Really, Maxey.  A Cig?  I gave that up years ago.

Maxey:  No, not that kind.  I’m talking about an OLLI Special Interest Group.

Leona:  So, what do you do in your…SIG?

Maxey:  We act.

Leona:  You act?  Like how?  Naughty?  Nice?  Up?

Maxey:  Cute, Leona.  No, Nothing like that.  Well sometimes…  But it depends on what script we’re reading.

Leona:  Oh, that kind of actor. Like you put on plays?

Maxey: Sort of.  We do old radio shows.  In December we’re performing Archie Andrews Goes Christmas Shopping.

Leona:  With Archie and Jughead and Betty and Veronica?  They were in the funny papers when we were kids!  I loved those silly characters.

Maxey  Those are the ones!  They drove their parents crazy, just like we did.

Leona:  Isn’t it hard to memorize all those lines?

Maxey:  Nope.   It’s called Readers Theater.  We read our scripts and wow ‘um with our voices.  Like actors did back in the old days of radio.

OLLI Actual Readers Theater


Leona:  I miss those days…

Maxey:  So do I.  We call ourselves The Speak Easy Players.  We all liked listening to the radio back when we were kids. None of us ever thought we’d be acting!

Leona:  That sounds like such fun.  What else do you do?

Maxey:  We performed The Thin Man, Case of the Goofy Groom, a few weeks ago.  Remember detectives Nick and Nora Charles?  And their dog, Asta?

Leona:  I do!  My dad loved that show.  So did I.  I can still hear that little dog barking.  And their voices!  So, what else do you do in this SIG?

Maxey:  We like to perform for each other.  We do monologues, and we do short scenes with a partner.  And after rehearsal, we go out to dinner together.

Leona:  Maxey, that sounds wonderful.  Are there any other SIGS?

Maxey:  Sure.  There’s Questions Across the Spectrum where we do discussions around TED talks.  And there are SIGS for writers.  And a SIG for canoeing.  And a…

Leona:   The doors just opened.

Maxey:  Well, thank you, Leona.  That’s a nice metaphor for what we’re talking about.

Leona:  No, Maxey, the doors to the classroom just opened.

Maxey:  Dang.  We better get in there.  Do you want to get a seat up front?

coffee cup

Leona:  Yes.  And will you tell me more about these SIG things over coffee after class?

Maxey:  I would be delighted.





Tim Hoyt, OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group, founding member of Questions Across the Spectrum and Readers Theater SIGs, OLLI Hospitality Committee.




OLLI Instructor Profile – Chuck Korte


Chuck Korte

Chuck Korte deserves to be called OLLI’s founding father, even though he was too young to join at the time.

It happened like this. Back in 1989, Chuck — with a Harvard Ph.D. in Social Psychology — was a Professor of Multi-disciplinary Studies at NC State. In doing research on the transition to retirement, he learned that some U.S. universities sponsored programs for learning in retirement, and he determined that NC State would be a good location for this. He got together with Sondra Kirsch, then the interim Associate Vice Chancellor of University Extension, to develop a strategy for exploring the feasibility of new programming oriented to the needs and interests — particularly educational — of older adults.

They held informal discussions with several groups and individuals. NC State’s Association of Retired Faculty and Frank Emory, an experienced extension staff member, played key roles. Advice was also sought from upper-level administrators. That fall Chuck chaired an ad hoc steering committee appointed by Vice Chancellor Art White. Members included active and retired faculty, extension staff, and community leaders. The General Administration of the University of North Carolina approved the establishment at NC State of a center for older adult education and enrichment.

The Center for Creative Retirement at UNC-Asheville awarded NC State a grant for the first Raleigh Seminar, coordinated by Howard Miller. The following spring, Chancellor Brown of UNC-Asheville attended a meeting of NC State’s steering committee to share his experience and support NC State’s efforts. Chancellor Monteith of NC State also attended and offered support.

Encore Logo

A program committee, chaired by NC State faculty members Ray Noggle and later Conrad Glass, was formed to plan the first Encore programs. Sondra Kirsch became the first director, succeeded a year later by Denis Jackson, the McKimmon Center director. NC State Chancellor Bruce Poulton suggested the name The Encore Center for Lifelong Enrichment. Chuck chaired the first Encore Advisory Council in 1990, and the first brochure was produced that fall. A reception for community leaders was held in the McKimmon Center to tell them about Encore and encourage them to spread the word. Volunteer instructors were recruited and registrations started coming in. Today there are more than 1,500 members.

Encore’s name was changed to OLLI in 2014 to reflect its connection to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network, some 100 programs supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Today Chuck is Ex Officio on the OLLI Advisory Council and a member of the Program Development Committee. He also serves as research coordinator. And in February he [is teaching or taught, depending on when this is posted] “Heaven for OLLI Members: Chautauqua!” about the historic institution in western New York State, a pioneer in adult education.


So what about Chuck’s personal life? He grew up in Gettysburg, Pa., where his father was the chaplain at Gettysburg College. His first ambition was to be an engineer but he also hoped to teach; he excelled at math and physics in high school. The school sent him to Norway for a year as an American Field Service exchange student.  He majored in Psychology at Miami University in Ohio, and then earned his doctorate at Harvard. He joined the faculty at Vassar, and had a sabbatical at the Free University of Amsterdam as a visiting scholar, doing research in Environmental Social Psychology — the effects of the environment on social behavior.  He helped nine students study behaviors in a crisis, such as the widely publicized murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens while her neighbors did nothing.

St Andrews University

Then Chuck joined the faculty of St. Andrews in Scotland, which Prince William and many other royals attended (and where golf was invented). “It was the best job I ever had,” he said. “I was so pampered, and the students were wonderful. Lectures were minimal, only nine a year because they were on a tutorial system like Oxford’s. I was happy as a lark. But the economy was poor, the weather was bad, and I was far from my family.” That family included his wife, Peggy, who’d been his first date at Miami University’s

“Church Night,” and with whom he now enjoys international travel. So he came home when Penn State gave him a one-year appointment. He was teaching there in 1979 when NC State made him an offer. “It’s a big research university so it was easy to say yes,” he said.

When NC State awarded him a sabbatical, he spent it at the University of Cambridge in England while he was researching Social Gerontology — a perfect fit for his work to help establish OLLI.


~ Barbara Haddad Ryan


Library Events at NC State


Did you know that the Libraries at NC State have great offerings open to the public and free  of charge? Here are a few that might be of interest to OLLI members – click on the title to be taken to the web page.  For the full frequently updated list, visit

Global Film Series – Makala

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

6:30pm to 8:15pm

Auditorium at the D. H. Hill Library

French documentary filmmaker Emmanuel Gras won the 2017 Cannes Critics’ Week grand prize with Makala. It tells the story of a young man who lives with his wife and his child near Kolwezi in the southern region of Dominican Republic of the Congo. He struggles to make living by chopping trees and carrying them with his wobbly bicycle to the market where he can sell them. Faculty introduction by Dr. James Kiwanuka-Tondo. In partnership with NC State’s Office of Global Engagement.

JB Hunt Library


Student Short Film Showcase

Thursday, February 21, 2019

7:00pm to 8:00pm

Auditorium at the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library

An annual audience favorite! Talented NC State student filmmakers screen their best short films, video productions, and animations, ranging from comical, to emotionally touching, to experimental — all under four minutes long. Students will be on hand to discuss their work. In collaboration with the Department of Communications and Art+Design at NC State.

musical stave

State of Sound Stories: Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

7:00pm to 8:00pm

Auditorium at the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library

M.C. Taylor has been writing soulful songs for Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger for over a decade. But the Merge Records artist, who draws influence from such diverse voices as Pauli Murray and Wendell Berry, Linda Thompson and Bill Withers, started his artistic path in the early 90s and is one that included experimental hardcore music, alt country, and advanced folklore degrees. Join us for a conversation with him about making a life with sound, words, family, and community.

Computer Animation Show – SIGGRAPH Reel

Thursday, March 7, 2019

7:00pm to 8:00pm

Auditorium at the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library

The SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival started as an annual showcase of advances in computer graphics; and since then has come to celebrate the rise of computer graphics as a medium for storytelling, not just in animation, but also in visual effects for movies and games. This exclusive screening of selections from the Festival is co-presented by the NC State University Libraries and the Department of Art + Design.

Global Film Series – Capernaum

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

6:30pm to 9:00pm

Witherspoon Theatre, 2810 Cates Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. In partnership with the Office of Global Engagement, Middle East Studies, and the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies.

on air

State of Sound Stories: Jules Conlon, General Manager of WKNC

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

6:00pm to 7:00pm

Fishbowl Forum at the D. H. Hill Library

Jules Conlon is the 2018-2019 General Manager of 88.1 FM, WKNC, NC State’s student-run radio station. WKNC creates a community of broadcast enthusiasts from the ever-changing population of NC State, and, year after year, delivers quality programming, cutting edge music, and community engagement. Join us for a conversation with Jules about WKNC, broadcasting, and being an integral and influential part of the world of music without playing instruments or writing songs.

Jules Conlon is a senior at NC State studying biology and the general manager of the university’s student-run radio station, WKNC 88.1 FM Raleigh. She got her start in the music industry in 2014, when she created the music blog Noise Polluter, which featured album reviews and interviews and eventually contributions from other writers nationwide. She got involved at WKNC during her first semester of college and has continued involvement there for the past four years, working her way up from an assistant music director. Jules has also held an internship with Merge Records and been involved with Hopscotch Music Festival and Moogfest.

big data

Using Big Data to Recover Black Women’s Lived Experiences – Research Computing Seminar Series

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

7:00pm to 8:00pm

Auditorium at the D. H. Hill Library

Throughout history, Black women’s lived experiences have often been invisible and erased. Therefore, it is important to combat the erasure of Black women and move toward a correction and claiming of their space within the digitized record. This presentation by visiting scholar Dr. Ruby Mendenhall of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will discuss a study that employs latent dirichlet allocation (LDA) algorithms and comparative text mining to search 800,000 periodicals in JSTOR (Journal Storage) and HathiTrust from 1746 to 2014 to identify the types of conversations that emerge about Black women’s shared experience over time and the resulting knowledge that developed. This presentation will also discuss the potential for seamless creativity and the need to demystify advance computing tools across the social sciences and humanities.

This program is presented by the NC State University Libraries and is supported by the Eastman University Engagement Fund.


Lynn Dix, OLLI Member and Chair of Membership Development and Marketing Committee

The Fire

house on fire

On March 16, 2017, there was a massive fire in downtown Raleigh.  An entire city block was incinerated, as well as great damage to 9 other neighboring buildings.  Many people were displaced from their homes.  Fortunately, only one person was injured, and not seriously.

All this takes me back to May 1, 1957.  I was 10 years old, my brother was 7.  My mother was out of town at a conference and my dad was at work, when the fire alarm rang.  Dad, being a volunteer fireman, responded to find that the fire was at our house.  Burning tires on the railroad tracks below our house had ignited the roof of the house outside my bedroom window.  By the time the fire was out, my bedroom, as well as most of the back of the house, was completely destroyed.  I was in school and did not see the fire, only the aftermath.


My family was homeless for more than a week.  We stayed with grandparents, cousins, and friends, but not together.  I had lost everything, all my toys, clothes, and books, including 6 library books (which the library forgave).  Also lost was the family piano. I practiced at friends’ houses. My teacher at school held a drive in the classroom, and many classmates donated clothes, toys, and books for me.

We eventually found a place to call home while our house was rebuilt.  We were all together again and stayed there until Columbus Day, October 12.  Then we moved back into the upstairs portion of the house, with a makeshift kitchen on the back porch.  We had no heat.  We moved into the downstairs portion of the house on December 24, and celebrated by putting up the Charismas tree.  How my parents managed to maintain such normalcy is beyond me.  I finished 5th grade and started 6th grade in the midst of all this.

lady and tramp

One special act of kindness from that time has stayed with me to this day.  A few days before the fire, Mom and I had gone to a department store with our best friends.  While the moms shopped, my friend Linda and I discovered stuffed Lady dogs from Lady and the Tramp and fell in love with them.  Our moms bought them for us.  Mine was lost in the fire.  One morning, while staying with Linda, while we were homeless, she presented me with her beloved Lady dog.  I told her to keep it, but I remember that kindness to this day.

Carol Gosselin – OLLI Member