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2019 0330 LifelongLearning

Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Diane Mufson speaks on the importance of Marshall University’s Lifelong Learning Program during a reception celebrating its first anniversary on Friday, March 29, 2019, at the Memorial Student Center in Huntington.

It’s obvious: 2020 is one miserably stressful year. COVID-19, politics, racial issues, schools, the economy and more have us searching for positive activities that mesh well with a pandemic’s limitations. One such option is to join Marshall’s Lifelong Learning Program (LLP), now on Zoom, but eventually in person again.

For years, area residents worked to bring an informal learning program for older and retired adults to the Huntington area. About 120 such programs, all with university affiliations, were in operation by 2015. In 2018, Marshall President Jerry Gilbert agreed that a lifelong learning program would be beneficial for the Huntington area, and MU’s LLP began.

Having participated in a Lifelong Learning Program at Florida International University (FIU), I knew that noncredit, flexible and easily affordable programs would be well received in Huntington; they have been.

In April 2018, the LLP held its initial Tuesday Talk program at the Joan C. Edwards Theater. The LLP members sat on the stage as some of the directors and actors explained the intricacies of theater production of the then current production of “As You Like It.”

Over the past two years, professionals from varied disciplines have offered three dozen exciting and informative monthly LLP Tuesday Talks from 10:30 a.m. to noon. A sampling includes “Conspiracies in America,” “Pollinators in Peril,” “CRISPIR Gene Editing” and “Forensic Science.”

Marshall’s LLP also has offered short courses, generally two to six sessions on one topic. “Understanding our Constitution,” “Major Religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam” (each presented by a religious leader of each faith), “World War I — 100 years later” (presented on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I) and “Understanding Extreme Weather” are samples of short courses.

The initial LLP Program director, Dr. Beth Wolfe, arranged for small LLP groups to experience interesting day trips to Berea College, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Blennerhassett Island and Hawks Nest State Park and Memorial Burial Grounds. Day trips will resume once COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

During this summer of COVID-19, Zoom programs have included topics on cyber security, the Coffindaffer crosses, the MU pharmacy program and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Elizabeth Sheets, LLP program director, is arranging exciting Zoom programs this fall. Dr. Frederick Walker will explain “rEVolution in Electric Vehicles,” on Sept. 8, Dr. Maurice Mufson will talk on “What you need to know about vaccines in 2020” on Oct. 13, and Dr. David Pittinger and Bryan Branham will discuss Marshall’s new flight school on Nov. 10.

Membership fees are being reduced during the pandemic. An 18-month membership will cost $50 and entitle the member to all Tuesday Talks and Zoom short courses. Individual programs are $10 per class. Membership is open to all; there are no age or residence restrictions.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Appell Sheets at 304-696-2285 or or check out Marshall University Center for Lifelong Learning on Facebook. This is a great time to join and support Marshall’s LLP.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch Opinion page. Her email is

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