Continuing Education at CMU for Seniors in Retirement

By Sankar Seetharama, Pittsburgh, PA

One of the best kept secrets in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), offers its members, primarily the senior community, opportunities to expand their knowledge, enhance their skills, interact with their peers, and increase their social and cultural awareness. It provides members a range of short-term, non-credit courses, lectures, and field trips, taught by faculty from CMU and other institutions, retired business professionals and representatives from community organizations, all eager to share their knowledge and expertise.

In August 1991, Robert Mehrabian, Carnegie Mellon University President, brought in Steve Calvert as assistant VP and director of alumni relations to found an adult education program. Mehrabian’s vision was to strengthen alumni relations, including a focus on education programs for alumni and the University’s neighbors, primarily retired adults still thirsty for knowledge.

Guided by Gretchen Langford, a Margaret Morrison Carnegie College alumna, and Edwin “Ted” Fenton, alumnus, Director of CMU’s Center for University Outreach, the Academy for Lifelong Learning (A.L.L.) came to be in 1992. In its first year (1993-1994), it drew three hundred students.

By 2007, A.L.L. had grown to over 1,200 members. Following a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, the A.L.L. Board of Directors recommended joining forces with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, dedicated to the same goals. By early 2009, Osher at CMU had new offices in Hunt Library, two classrooms in Wean Hall, a website, and an endowment from the Osher Foundation.

Now all of these have been consolidated in a lovely new Learning Center in Cyert Hall on campus funded by the Osher at CMU and local foundations. Osher, not part of CMU, is an independent, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Most importantly, it is volunteer-driven. From the Board of Directors to its committees and its instructors, everyone is a volunteer. It helps reinforce a sense of community. There is also a dedicated staff, responsible for running the show. Led by an Executive Director, they produce course catalogs, schedule courses, maintain the website, help with registration, and take care of all the business aspects of the organization.


Each year, members can choose from over four hundred courses, covering an incredible range of subjects from the study of a Shakespeare play to under-water photography, secrets of Pittsburgh, architecture, Indian history, music, personal finance, legal issues, health & wellness, and much more. Most of these classes are taught in the Learning Center in Cyert Hall.

Beginning in August of 2019 Osher’s Executive Director and then President had a series of meetings with Chatham University’s President. These meetings led to the Lifelong Learning Program partnering with Chatham University offering courses at their Eden Hall Campus in Gibsonia, PA providing closer access for residents of surrounding communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes were held on Zoom®. Some classes will be offered on Zoom in addition to the in-person classes to accommodate those unable to attend classes on campus.

Osher at CMU is always happy to welcome new members & instructors! Check us out at  


Aishwarya, daughter of Gopal & Sasikala Krishnamoorthy of Monroeville, PA and a student of Kamala Reddy, had here Kuchipudi  rangapravasam on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the S.V.Temple auditorium in front of a large number of invitees. Aishwarya learned the artform for over ten years, during which she was part of Kamala Reddy’s many Kuchipudi dance-dramas.

At Gateway High School, Aishwarya was part of the marching band and learned to play on the trumpet. At school, she received the Noah Gray scholarship for her commitment and achievements in the band. Graduating this year from Gateway High School, Aishwarya is now a freshman at University of Pittsburgh, pursuing engineering. 


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