Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Announces Retirement of Director Jim Peter

Jim Peters, director of the University of Kansas Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, will retire in September after leading the institute for nearly eight years, expanding it's programming to 29 sites in 16 cities and deepening partnerships with organizations across Kansas.

Jim Peter

LAWRENCE, Kansas (June 18, 2019) – Jim Peters, director of the University of Kansas Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, will retire in September after leading the institute for nearly eight years.

A unit of KU Professional & Continuing Education, the Osher Institute was chartered by the Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco in 2004 and offers noncredit enrichment courses and events, specifically developed for people 50 and older. True to its tagline – “No homework. No tests. No pressure. It’s learning just for the joy of it.” – the Osher Institute’s courses cover relevant topics throughout history and today.

Peters joined KU in 2005 as director of marketing for KU Professional & Continuing Education (called KU Continuing Education at the time). In 2008, he was named director of professional programs and communications and in 2012, became director of the Osher Institute. Under Peters’ leadership, the institute expanded its programming from 10 sites in six cities to 29 sites in 16 cities across northeast Kansas and greater Kansas City. His work further expanded Osher’s partnerships with Kansas State University and Washburn University, as well as organizations such as Douglas County Senior Resource Center, Johnson County Park & Recreation District and residential retirement communities throughout the state.

“Jim has been a tremendous asset for our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute,” said Sharon Graham, assistant vice chancellor of KU Professional & Continuing Education. “He helped guide the program to receive a second $1 million endowed gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation in 2015 – an important component in keeping the cost of the program affordable. He was also instrumental in leading the way to secure our ability to install a hearing loop in the Osher classroom. Jim’s passion for the Osher program is contagious. We will miss him and wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Peters leaves behind a legacy of a broad network of learners, educators and Osher community members.

“Our goal has been to share the rich resources of KU and our programming partners with as many adult learners as we can reach,” Peters said. “With the help of our partners, instructors, donors, volunteers and the extraordinary work of my colleague Ann Evans, I believe we have been successful. I’m very proud of that and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. This is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.”

In his retirement, Peters plans to teach for the institute and assist with fundraising, continuing his work with Osher … just for the joy of it.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute leaders, participants and instructors share praise for Peters:

“Without doubt, Jim is one of the network’s finest directors and one greatly respected by his colleagues across the nation. We applaud his many accomplishments, and I wish him every success and happiness in the years ahead. I am delighted that he will remain engaged with the Osher Institute at KU. It is a privilege working with him.”
     – Mary G.F. Bitterman, president, The Bernard Osher Foundation

“He has done outstanding work developing the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kansas. His efforts have already enriched the lives of countless older adults, and the remarkable program he has created will continue to do so for many years to come. I am delighted he will remain involved as a volunteer and valued member of the Osher network.”
      –  David Blazevich, senior program director, The Bernard Osher Foundation

"Jim Peters is perpetually optimistic and energetic. He has developed strong, first-name relationships with many Osher participants. Jim enhanced the reach of the Osher Institute by recruiting excellent instructors who offer compelling classes, many in places Osher has never gone before." 
     – Rex Buchanan, KU Osher Institute presenter and instructor, director emeritus, Kansas Geological Survey

“Jim Peters has so many outstanding qualities as a person and as a leader and teacher. All of us Osher students and presenters will be sorry to see him ride that trusty bicycle off into the sunset. Fortunately, his intelligence and energetic devotion to Osher’s commitment to lifelong learning for persons ‘50 and better,’ that has meant so much to KU and Kansas residents far and wide, will still be on his engaging heart and big brain to find ways to keep Osher a vibrant force in our extended senior community.”
     – Kathleen Harvey, KU Osher Institute participant and instructor, retired immigration attorney  
     – Keith Taylor, KU Osher participant, retired architect

"As a long-time instructor in the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, it has been a great pleasure to work with Jim Peters. His unfailing cheerfulness and great collegiality have been delightful. Jim's tireless work on behalf of the program has resulted in it flourishing and seen it grow substantially in several communities. Jim is one of my true friends at the university, and I wish him the best as he transitions into retirement."​ 
     – Paul Laird, KU Osher Institute instructor, KU professor of musicology

"Jim Peters, in addition to directing and teaching very popular classes for Osher, also went out of his way to support local writers such as Tom Averill and me. Through his leadership, Osher held book launch events to connect interested audiences with local authors for meaningful and memorable events."
     – Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, KU Osher Institute instructor, author, past Kansas Poet Laureate

About KU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Part of KU Professional & Continuing EducationKU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, with its network of more than 120 instructors, provides members with a wide-range of noncredit enrichment courses, covering history, literature, art, music, religion and more without the pressure of exams or homework. The Institute delivers accessible, innovative learning environments to participants 50 years and older, at 29 sites in 16 cities across Kansas and Greater Kansas City.

Top photo: Jim Peters, outgoing director of the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, poses at the Walter Cronkite Memorial in St. Joseph, Missouri, during a spring 2019 Osher trip on the way to visit the covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa.

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