Fall 2023 Program – NOTE: Registration begins September 11.
Welcome to our fall 2023 semester beginning on Wednesday, October 11 and Friday, October 13 and continuing for six weeks. While many of you prefer in-person classes, increasing numbers look for the flexibility offered by Hyflex (a simultaneous in-person and Zoom class), which is especially appealing to those who are unable to attend in person. The format allows participants to pick and choose classes that meet their needs and schedules. This semester we are pleased to increase our offerings to twelve courses: seven Hyflex, four in-person-only, and one Zoom-only class.
Here are the semester’s highlights*:
- At 9:15 Peter Spitz will offer Global Warming: Dangers and Solutions Going Forward in person, while James Rose will lead Religion and the Supreme Court in the 21st Century on Hyflex (6 week class, $85).
- At 11:00 there are two Hyflex options. Michael Malina will guide us through Women in the Hebrew Bible: Is there a Feminine Perspective? while Dwight Goodyear will lead What Is Consciousness? (6 week class, $85).
- At 1:00 there are two Hyflex options. Christine Bobkoff will present Short Story while Gary Berton will explain Thomas Paine and Rights of Man (6 week class, $85).
- At 9:15 Paul Lee will share The Angelic Music of Mozart in person, while Dana Hirsch will guide us through The ABCs of LGBTQIA+ on Hyflex (6 week class, $85).
- At 11:00 there are two in-person options. A la Carte will return with six unique in-person presentations, while Elizabeth Gaffney will present Three Plays by Sean O’Casey (6 week class, $85).
- At 1:00 Joseph Sgammato will lead a Hyflex discussion Very Heaven: The Romantic Movement, Part One Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (6 week class, $85), while Will Costanzo will return with Faith on Film, Part 2 via Zoom-only (3 sessions, $55).
We are looking forward to making it a true Collegium semester: stimulating discussions, friendly exchanges of ideas, smiles, and laughter. We are always ready to encourage, support, even hand-hold interested newcomers as well as members. Please feel free to reach out and ask for more information or to register. Invite family and/or friends to join you and recreate the atmosphere of collegial learning. We’re looking forward to seeing you again!
The Collegium Board
*Click here for the complete, detailed Fall 2023 Class Schedule
Current Members: Click here for the Fall 2023 Registration Guide
Mission and Guiding Principles
Collegium for Lifelong Learning, a self-governing organization affiliated with Westchester Community College, is dedicated to combining serious study and social exchange among its members. Collegium operates consistently with the values and policies of the College.
In the Collegium commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we agree to respect the rights and sensibilities of all members and we strive for a community and culture that is respectful, open, curious and thoughtful.
- Open membership: The only condition for membership in Collegium is payment of the program’s applicable fees.
- Peer-group direction: Members direct, operate and administer Collegium, including designing its curriculum offerings, through the Collegium board of directors.
- Voluntary service: All board members, course leaders and guest speakers are volunteers and receive no honoraria, fees or gifts for services.
- Curriculum content: Collegium strives to provide curriculum offerings in a variety of topics and disciplines with content that is intellectually stimulating to advanced learners.
- Community: The Collegium environment provides opportunities for intellectual exchange, social interaction and friendship among members.
- Powered by members: Volunteering is the lifeblood of Collegium. Members are strongly encouraged to volunteer to provide assistance with the operations and administration of Collegium and to share their expertise inside and outside the classroom, under the direction of the Collegium board or its officers.
- Collegium seeks to benefit Westchester Community College by enhancing community awareness of the College and supporting the College’s goals.
The History of the Organization
COLLEGIUM. This name and its logo have graced the brochures, letterheads, and envelopes that have come into our homes and our lives since 2004. Yet how often do we stop to think about the name of this organization and the symbol that accompanies it? What do they mean? Why were they chosen?
The word “collegium” has many meanings. One resource defines it as “a group of officials with equal rank and power.” Another, perhaps the more appropriate definition, describes a collegium as “a group whose members pursue shared goals while working within a framework of mutual trust and respect.” This meaning is surely the soul of our Collegium. And what of its history?
That began in 2004 when a plan took shape. Spearheaded by Edith Landau Litt, it encompassed a small group of visionaries who designed a fresh educational opportunity for older, intellectually curious people. Despite some initial skepticism, one hundred interested souls braved a torrential rainstorm to attend an open house introducing this program. The planning group grew and, supported by leaders of Westchester Community College and the Westchester Community College Foundation, brought a long-discussed vision into existence: an organization with the goal of reaching out to seniors through a program combining serious study with convivial social exchange. The image chosen to be its symbol aptly recalls the silhouette of the Greek Parthenon, the quintessential home of intellectual and social exchange. The program was formally named COLLEGIUM for Lifelong Learning.
Collegium immediately filled a need in the senior community, and the success continues to this day. The first session had 10 classes and 71 participants. Seventeen years later the semester offers 23 classes to 260 members for between four and six weeks on Wednesdays or Fridays. Led by an all-volunteer Collegium Board in partnership with the College, and graciously housed in the Knollwood Center on the Westchester Community College campus, the Collegium vision flourishes, enriching the lives of so many people. Each semester brings a wide selection of courses led by exceptional volunteers with expertise in their subjects. Spirited discussions fill classrooms and spill over into conversations during lunch and between session breaks. The exhilarating give and take of ideas fosters friendships and builds relationships based on mutual respect.
This in a nutshell is Collegium, and we welcome you to it! Peruse the brochure listings and select courses that cultivate curiosity and encourage an intellectual leap. Claim your place in the shadow of our own Parthenon.
Who Are Collegium’s Members?
Who are we? Listen as our Collegium members describe us.
“We come in all sizes and shapes. We range in age from the greatest generation to baby boomers.” Most of us have retired from the challenges of careers in large and small businesses, schools and universities, medicine, law, and other professions. Regardless of our backgrounds, we share a common characteristic, intellectual curiosity. The need to learn remains intense. “I wanted to continue learning as long as I was able,” one member recalls. A nagging fear lurked in the backs of many of our minds, a fear that we would sorely miss “the stimulation of a full-time collaborative, working life.” But the answer lay within reach: “Collegium beckoned as a place to keep my mind alive and growing.”
Some of us joined Collegium at its inception in 2004. Most heard from friends who had already joined and returned with tales of “passionate teachers with impressive presentation skills.” For others, the quest began with the inevitable Google search and ended with “a bright yellow flyer in my mailbox. The rest is history.”
Why do they love this program and even recruit others? As one member says, “Reading is great in itself, but Collegium offers topics that I probably would never pursue on my own.” Another says, “When I walk out of ancient history, I feel as if my brain has been stretched. When I walk out of modern poetry, I feel as if my soul has been enriched.” We stay for one another, “for the camaraderie, and most importantly, the acknowledgement of having been seen and heard by our peers.” Sometimes our roles even change: a member becomes a course leader or a course leader becomes a member.
One member summed it up simply: “Within the walls of Collegium I have found friendship, information, understanding, beauty, kindness, generosity, and a spirit that keeps the magic of living alive.”
These are the voices of Collegium’s members.
Who Are Our Course Leaders?
The Collegium board relishes the high praise we’ve received for a program devoted to offering rich, intellectual experiences to its membership: “What an interesting course! Where did you find such an excellent leader?” Yet Collegium is an all-volunteer organization: those who teach do so for the love of teaching and the joy of sharing knowledge. Their only reward is an exchange of ideas and the pleasure of seeing participants’ enjoyment. So who are these altruistic teachers—and where do we find them?
Oftentimes we find teachers hiding in plain sight among Collegium’s board members and individual members; they generously bring their knowledge, perspective, and personal passions into our classrooms. Some have been educators, others have not. Some have advanced degrees, others extensive professional experience. A long-cultivated love of music, history, art, poetry, law, or more becomes the focus of a painstakingly planned six-week class.
Our curriculum chair, the curriculum committee, and board members are constantly alert to recruiting opportunities. Referrals from within Westchester Community College, the Westchester Community College Foundation, and Collegium members generate potential course leaders. Networking, too, initiates new relationships with community professionals whose expertise may appeal to our members. Casual discussions have blossomed into courses on Shakespeare, art, philosophy, finance, political science, architecture, literature, issues in contemporary Africa, and other intriguing subjects.
Westchester Community College faculty are willing to share their extensive knowledge by teaching in Collegium’s programs purely for the pleasure of working with mature, intellectually curious adults. Retired faculty members delight in the opportunity to donate their time and knowledge without the burden of grading tests or reading term papers.
What is vital to every successful course is not only the leader’s expertise, but also his or her ability to teach well, to stimulate students. The most successful course leader—the enthusiastic, inspirational instructor—is someone who loves a topic and makes others love it too. Such a person makes our classroom experiences rewarding and memorable long after the Collegium semester has ended.
An Award-Winning Program
Originally printed in fall 2014
Volunteer New York! established a noteworthy award in 2014 honoring volunteer achievement in literacy and education—and with impressive fanfare it gave its first-time award to Collegium! Think of it: Collegium was the first recipient of this first-time award! What an impressive tribute to the collective efforts of our founders, leaders, administrators, teachers, and members on behalf of our exceptional lifelong-learning collaboration.
Collegium’s board chair, David Oestreich, together with Edith Landau Litt, Collegium founder, and Clare Ahern, vice chair of the board accepted the award at United Way’s 34th annual Volunteer Spirit Awards breakfast in the presence of nearly 600 guests. Many of those present had themselves been recognized for extraordinary volunteer achievement or represented groups that had been so recognized in the Westchester and Mid-Hudson Valley region.
Collegium is in the company of a distinguished coterie of achievers, so congratulations to each of our volunteers. It is only because of your enthusiastic participation that Collegium has been able to reach, and will continue to sustain, this impressive, award-winning program in a singularly warm and welcoming social setting. Our success rests on you and on your saying those four invaluable words: “How can I help?”