Lifetime Learners Institute at Norwalk Community College is a non-profit organization of adults over age 50, interested in lifelong learning. The organization’s purpose is to offer interesting non-credit educational courses developed and taught by LLI instructors on subjects such as history, current events, literature, humanities, art, music, science, nature, theater, movies and more. Our collaborative classroom environment provides members with the opportunity to engage with other individuals sharing similar interests and to establish new friendships. Affiliated with Norwalk Community College, LLI believes that growth, through continuing education and social engagement, is the secret to staying vital.
LLI offers approximately 40 courses each Spring and Fall, as well shorter Summer and Winter Sessions, all taught by LLI instructors. LLI’s more than 800 members come from all over Fairfield and Westchester counties. LLI is run by member volunteers, plus one paid part-time office manager. Norwalk Community College gives us a home, provides us with classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, technology support, services, use of the Baker library and Wellness Center, help in many forms, advice when asked for, and the invaluable prestige of a large sheltering institute – making us feel a part of the College. Our members volunteer services to NCC, such as mentoring, library assistance, rush mailings, and participation in fundraising for the NCC Foundation.
The Lifetime Learners Institute at NCC is among the largest of over 200 Lifelong Learning Institutes in North America. The organizations now called Lifelong Learning Institutes (LLIs) were formerly called Institutes for Learning in Retirement (ILRs).
The ILR movement that began at New York’s New School in 1962 had about 50 loosely organized programs by 1985. At that point, Elderhostel and the ILR movement joined forces, and the Elderhostel Institute Network (EIN) was formed to help groups organize.
In 1989, NCC professor Dr. Eileen Pennino was looking at the roles of senior adults in community colleges. From among the senior adults who were taking college classes, she convened a Senior Advisory Group that met for two years.
In 1991, three of the group’s members got together to explore the notion of starting an ILR at NCC: Saul Dursht, Sylvia Polokoff, and Nathan Schwartz. They met with Frank Morgan, Dean of Continuing Education, and Lynn Boyar, also of Continuing Education. With the help of EIN, they started working on an Affiliation Agreement between Lifetime Learners Institute and Norwalk Community College.
In 1992, LLI was officially formed, and NCC designated Lynn Boyar as a voting member of the Board as liaison for the College. LLI’s first semester began in October with 11 study groups. More about LLI’s early history In the beginning, the study groups were set up for peer-to-peer learning, with facilitators on hand to move the conversation along. As the organization and class sizes grew, the role of facilitators grew as well. Today, in Spring and Fall, LLI facilitators teach over 40 courses and lead lively class discussions.