LLI Spotlight:  Avi Bernstein, Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (BOLLI) at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. 

By Peter Spiers

BOLLI at Brandeis University was founded in 2000 by Dr. Bernard Reisman, then a professor emeritus at Brandeis, as the Brandeis Adult Learning Institute.  Conceived from the beginning as “a small liberal arts college within a research university,” the Institute grew quickly and applied for and received an Osher endowment grant in 2006.  BOLLI is one of four programs that make up Brandeis’s Raab School of Continuing Studies, which also offers online Master’s Degree, Summer School, and Continuing Studies programs to non-traditional students.  Membership fluctuates seasonally between 500 and 600, and members choose from five membership levels, ranging in cost from $675 for the “Annual Comprehensive” plan to $265 for the “Snowbird” plan.  All members receive free parking, access to a distinguished lunch and learn speakers series, special interest groups, an exercise class, and discounted tickets to Brandeis faculty led intensive seminars.  BOLLI is managed by a full-time staff of three—a director, an assistant director, and a program coordinator—and governed informally by an Advisory Council comprised of standing committee chairs and member liaisons.  About a quarter of members have an affiliation with Brandeis, as alumni, retired faculty or staff, or the parent or grandparent of a current Brandeis student.  Avi Bernstein, in his sixth year as Director, says that during his tenure he’s watched the organization “explode in terms of diversity,” an accomplishment he’s very proud of.