Hello Sun Devil community!

Richard C. Knopf

Selah. I focused upon that ancient Hebrew word during my message to you last spring. It was the height of the pandemic, and I mentioned how selah reminds us of the importance of pause. The ancients had it right. We all need selah – a life pause that invites us into deeper reflection, deeper connectivity, and deeper revelation. The pandemic gave us selah – we had no choice but to breakaway, reinterpret, and reground.

And now, anchored with our new wisdom, we move on – as individuals and as an OLLI. We both have a deeper and sharper sense of calling than ever before. For all of its disruption, the pandemic has catalyzed us. To never take things for granted, and to more intentionally dwell upon the things that matter. We each are awakening into a new spirit, a new raison d’etre.

One thing we all learned so clearly from the pandemic is that humans need connectivity and purpose. This is no surprise to scientists who study aging. In all national and international studies of human longevity, social connectivity is the most powerful predictor of long life. Negative influencers – such as smoking, poor eating habits, obesity, or alcohol abuse – do not even come close to damaging the lifespan as does dwindling social connectivity.

And then there is sense of purpose. The same powerful influence on successful aging. The Yale study discovered that reflective, purpose-driven people lived 7.5 years longer. To make a long scientific story short, scientists have proven that socially connected, “filled with purpose” older adults not only live longer, but are substantially healthier no matter how you measure “health.”

So, what does all of this have to do with your OLLI at ASU community? We must move forward to surround this emerging wisdom with action. I am thrilled to announce that a newly formed OLLI at ASU Advisory Committee is working diligently to bring learning, connection, and purpose all together in innovative ways as part of the OLLI at ASU experience.

You will be hearing from the OLLI at ASU Advisory Committee regularly through the ideation process, as they work arm-in-arm with the staff to design a new OLLI at ASU that maintains the rigor of our class offerings, yet also unleashes amazing new post-pandemic ventures to re-build community and offer pathways to purpose. There is a new future for your OLLI at ASU, and it will be exhilarating to experience.

We are delighted to announce our new hub at the ASU Health Futures Center. This new ASU building, with state-of-art learning centers and technologies, is where Mayo and ASU faculty from diverse disciplines work together to push the frontiers of knowledge forward in health and medicine. As our programming unfolds there in the coming years, you will find an intriguing array of classes and events on the very health-related things I discussed above, as well as on breaking news in medicine.

Financially, as a direct result of your donations, OLLI at ASU has survived through the ravages of the pandemic. We are grateful the results of this past year’s fundraising campaign which netted $85,232 with 26% of you participating! We couldn’t have done it without you!

And, I do not want to let this moment slip by without a thunderous applause for Abby Baker, who is departing us – and destined toward tremendous accomplishments as she continues to pursue her “close-to-heart” caring for others in her new small business. Through her leadership, she navigated our OLLI at ASU well and has created a sense of FamOLLI. Please join all the staff in sending our heartfelt love and appreciation for all Abby has done in service to our community!

Keep Learning! Keep Growing! Keep Serving!

Yours in the love of learning,

Richard C. Knopf
Richard C. Knopf, PhD, Director, 

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU