COTC’s Lifelong Learning Institute helps 71-year-old man continue quest for knowledge

| December 30, 2015

UntitledNEWARK – Tony Starn has had a full and interesting life. In 1999, he retired from the Ohio Department of Transportation after 30 years of service. Starn served in various roles at ODOT, and he can tell you everything you would ever want to know about right-of-way policies and land acquisition. But he also knows there’s so much more out there to learn. That’s why, at 71-years-old, Starn is an active member of Central Ohio Technical College’s (COTC) Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI).

“The Lifelong Learning Institute is important to the senior citizens for a whole bunch of reasons,” said Starn. “Seniors are retired. We’ve been very productive in our lives, but we need to keep our minds working. That’s where LLI comes in.”

The Lifelong Learning Institute is based out of the Pataskala campus of COTC and serves the needs of the Central Ohio senior population. There is programming for the Newark-centric community as well, held in the Reese Center on the Newark Campus of COTC and OSU.

The LLI provides educational opportunities for mature learners, or as they often prefer to be called, “the intellectually curious”. It’s a membership-driven program that follows the COTC academic year and ensures that learning is not just cerebral in nature, but that it’s also fun. Menus of courses are offered year-round, plus LLI offers a film study series called ElderQuest, as well as technology workshops, book discussions, field trips, and Coffee and Conversation programs, as well as the traditional four-hour or eight-hour courses that focus on everything from the arts, literature, philosophy, and science, to languages, technology, spirituality, economics, and local, national, and world affairs.

Starn joined LLI not long after his wife of 22 years passed away. In part, it was a way to move forward from the grief of losing Jane by getting his mind around other things.

“I got involved with LLI because my late wife’s sister and her husband were both involved and thought I needed to get out the house,” said Starn. “They were right. LLI has been a wonderful opportunity. There have been some really interesting topics presented. It’s a broad spectrum, and it really gives you things to think about. One presentation we had about jazz made me go home and watch the Ken Burns documentary on jazz.”

Starn has taken his quest for knowledge out of central Ohio as well. He has traveled to the Culinary Institute of America in New York to take classes geared toward cooking enthusiasts.

“It’s wonderful to learn new cooking skills and about new foods,” said Starn. “I love to keep learning. It’s great to be able to learn at home through LLI and travel as well.”

The courses through the Lifelong Learning Institute at COTC are non-college-credit courses that are offered on a one-time basis and selected by the membership. There’s a search committee that seeks out programming. They take the ideas to a curriculum committee that contacts the instructors and creates the framework. The fiscal committee gives the fiduciary green light, and the steering committee guides the entire process.

“What we provide is an incredible opportunity for the mature learners of Central Ohio to enjoy camaraderie and fun in an exciting educational environment through intriguing and enlightening programming,” said Director of Central Ohio Technical College’s Workforce Development Innovation Center and Lifelong Learning Institute Vicki Maple. “Not only is there something for everyone, but there is also something just for each of you seniors because you help select the programs and courses!”

The new semester introduces the 2016 LLI Spring Course Catalog with courses and programs ranging from Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery, Lake Erie Critical Issues and Pilot Dog Training Process to Veterinary Medicine and Pet Therapy, Medicinal Herb Growth, and Internet Shopping and Cyber Security.  The first course in the new semester is called “Food for Thought: the Science & Myths Behind Your Food”. It takes place on Fridays Jan. 8, 15, 22, and 29, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the COTC Pataskala Campus, located at 8660 E. Broad St., Reynoldsburg, OH.

LLI Course Catalogs are available at no cost, and participants may attend their first LLI course for free. For those wishing to become members, there is an annual membership fee of just $90, or for Licking County residents over the age of 60, there is a 50 percent savings of $45, thanks to the Licking County Senior Levy grant. The 2015-2016 annual membership fee covers all courses offered now through August 2016. Members may choose as many or as few of the programs and courses as they wish to experience, and they’re all covered in the annual membership fee.

“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching,” Maple said. “That’s our mantra at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Central Ohio Technical College!”

To learn more about the Lifelong Learning Institute at COTC, contact Vicki Maple, Director, at phone 740-364-9565, or email [email protected].  Information is also available online at

Central Ohio Technical College is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.

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