Osher Interest Groups

Consider joining one of these Osher Institute interest groups, formed and led by Osher members. If you would like to explore forming a new interest group please contact the Osher office at (804) 287-6344 or osher@richmond.edu for more information.

An Osher Institute membership is required to join any interest group.

Hobbies & Pastimes

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  • Baseball Special Interest Group

    Baseball pitcher in fill stretch facing the camera, with batter blurred in foregroundIf you love baseball, this is the group for you! Leader Dan Begley has great ideas for baseball-related things to do!

    This group has lots of fun events planned, including:

    • Connect with our new UR baseball coach
    • Visit the new batting facility at Pitt field
    • Meet some UR players who are willing to talk about being a student/athlete
    • Visit the Tuckahoe Little League to see their MASSIVE baseball facility
    • Invite guest speakers like Bob Black to about his life in baseball and other UR sports
    • Visit Nationals Park as a group
    • Visit the Diamond for a tour under the stands before they tear the place down.

    If you wish to be a part of this fun, new group, just email osherbaseball@gmail.com and ask to be added to the email list.

  • Birding with Audubon

    Two white water birds hunting in shallow waterThe Richmond Audubon Society and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute are pairing up to create a new Special Interest Group on birding for Osher members. Membership in the Richmond chapter or the National Audubon Society is not required to be a member of this Osher interest group (although there are nice benefits, if you choose to join).

    Please contact Mary Elfner at melfner@gmail.com if you are interested in joining.

  • Bridge Interest Group

    People playing cards at a tableThe social/duplicate bridge group meets on the first Friday of each month at 1pm (except in the summer months).

    Please contact Ellen Hollands at efine98@aol.com or (804) 741-0221 if you are interested in joining. These are FUN groups. All levels are welcome!

  • Our Earth & Beyond Interest Group

    View of the earth from the moonWould you like to explore and learn more about planet Earth and the universe?

    Maybe you’ve already read these:

    And, perhaps you go online and enjoy these web sites:

    There are thousands of resources for exploring earth and the universe. Which ones have you tried?

    If any of these books, web sites, and topics are of interest to you, please email Joel Gottlieb at joel.gottlieb@gmail.com to join this group.

  • Knitting & Handwork Interest Group

    Closeup of knitting handsThis group gathers to enjoy conversation while creating individual projects. Some members are willing to instruct those who may wish to learn. The group meets several times each month in different locations on campus.

    To join, please email Bridget Westhoven at westhoven5@mac.com.

  • Photography Interest Group

    Camera equipmentThe Photography Interest Group offers photographers with a range of experience and interest the opportunity to come together regularly to share, learn, and develop their skills. Tip sessions, photo outings, and presentations on such topics as composition, exposure, and editing software are offered.

    To join or learn more, please email coordinator Peter Blankman at pblankman@gmail.com.

  • Sociable French Conversation Interest Group

    People around a table laughing and drinking wineThe purpose of this new group is to build confidence to say anything in French, and the setting would be completely informal. Osher members Allan and Eva Blum host an informal French Conversation social group. Eva’s native language is French, and Allan is fairly fluent in the language. This group does not require fluency in French, but only a wish to have some fun and improve whatever level French one has by casual French conversation.

    Please email Allan and Eva at allan_blum@yahoo.com with your interest and desire to be a part of this group.

Active Lifestyle

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  • Fab and Fit Spiders

    Class of students holding onto a rail while working outOsher Member Brenda Davis is leading this group, which will have a set, weekly schedule to start your day virtually with a fun energy boost! You will be stretching, getting your heart rate up a little bit, and using hand held weights while seated in a chair or standing beside the chair.

    Here’s the typical schedule:

    • What: Virtual Low Impact Workout (with chair and hand weights)
    • Day of week: Tuesday
    • Time: 8:00-8:30 am
    • Delivery: Online via Zoom

    How do you become a Fab and Fit Spider? Just sign up! Email Brenda at bdavis@lakewoodathome.org to join this group. Then, she’ll email you with reminders and the Zoom link.

  • Golf

    Golf ball on the edge of the cup with sun shiningThe Golf Special Interest Group has been created for Osher members who love to hit the links. We vary the days of the week, times, locations, and playing formats, with the hope of appealing to all interested golfers. We welcome all, regardless of handicap — this is just for fun and enjoyment!

    If you are interested, please contact Thomas Cox at tcox.attorney@gmail.com.

  • Hikers Interest Group

    Group of Osher hikers lined up on a hiking trailCome with us and explore the wonders of nature: the breathtaking waterfalls, wildlife, various plants and vegetation, not to mention historic urban settings. Our hikes run from September through June and cover an array of venues from the Shenandoah National Park to urban hikes, and all points in between. Our hikes generally run between four and seven miles in length with varying degrees of difficulty and elevation change. We generally leave around 8 a.m. and return by 5 p.m. For more information, contact the group coordinator: Lex Bailey, alexander.neale.bailey@gmail.com.

    All participants are required to sign a liability release form. Also, we strongly recommend that all participants complete and bring with them on the hike an Emergency Information Sheet. Upcoming hikes will be posted in the Osher Office and on the Osher website and announced to group members via email.

    Spring 2024 Hike Schedule

    At the discretion of the Planning Committee a second hike could be offered, based on participants’ interest and the availability of leaders, for most outings.

    Following is the hiking schedule for the season:

    Date Location
    Thursday, January 18 Buttermilk/Northbank Trail
    Tuesday, February 20 Cumberland Marsh
    Wednesday, March 20 White Rock Falls
    Wednesday, April 10 Natural Bridge State Park (includes guided tour)
    Thursday, May 16 Little Stony Man/Stony Man (includes breakfast at Skyland)
    Wednesday, June 5 The Market at Grelen

    Guidelines for Hikers

    • You must be an Osher member or a guest of an Osher member to participate in a hike.
    • We will meet and depart promptly at the times stated in the hike email.
    • Please do not veer off or leave a hike without informing a member of the hiking committee.
    • We try to pick hikes that appeal to a wide range of hikers, but due to difficulty and elevation, may not be possible for all hikers.
    • For safety reasons and as a courtesy to the other hikers, everyone on the hike must be able to maintain a steady pace and stay with the group. All hikers will be required to sign release forms before departing for the hike.
    • There is generally a waiting list for hikers so if you find you cannot go on a hike, please inform Lex Bailey at alexander.neale.bailey@gmail.com ASAP so another person can fill your slot.
    • Be sure to dress appropriately for a day out of doors and wear comfortable shoes. A day pack and walking stick are recommended. Also, all hikers are strongly encouraged to carry a listing of emergency contact information.
    • The hiking committee is always looking for new ideas and members. If you would be interested in having a voice on hiking issues, please email Lex.
  • Travel Interest Group

    Osher travelers posing in AntarcticaAttention all travelers! Celeste Miller is spearheading this Osher special interest group for those who love to travel. The objectives of the group are to share information regarding trips taken and most importantly, to help coordinate future Osher travel.

    If you have interest in helping to lead the development of future Osher trips, being the first to learn of the travel opportunities developed, learning from fellow travelers, or sharing your experiences, this is the special interest group for you! We plan to focus on day trips and overnight excursions, as well as domestic and international travel.

    Osher travel opportunities require all travelers to be Osher members, including spouses and guests.

    Osher memberships may be purchased for as little as $75/year.

    To join or to learn more, please email OSHERtravel@gmail.com. Come join the fun and expand your experiences!

    And if you’d like to see the existing Osher travel opportunities, be sure to visit the Special Travel Opportunities page!

  • UR Women’s Basketball Interest Group

    Womens basketball scoreboard recognizing Silver SpidersThe aim of our UR Women’s Basketball Special Interest Group (SIG) is to enjoy the UR women’s games together (home and some away games) and support the team. We have been assigned our own designated Osher section in the Robins Center and we call our group Silver Spiders.

    Join us in attending special programs, presentations, and practices with the UR coaches and players. Most of us have season tickets, but that is not a requirement to join this group.

    All are welcome! Please contact John Festa at johnfesta@comcast.net to join.

Contemporary & Historical Issues

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  • Addressing the Climate Crisis Interest Group

    Illustration of hands holding soil with icons representing climate action items surrounding a globeThe group will discuss some fundamentals like sources of greenhouse gas emissions, their relationship to global warming, and the impacts of global warming on human welfare and ecological health.

    However, our focus will be on how we can take action individually and collectively to address climate change. We will learn from one another, from guest speakers, from readings, and maybe even from a field trip or two. To join, please email Renee Purdy at renee.purdy@richmond.edu or Holly Blake at hblake@richmond.edu.

    The group generally meets in the Special Programs Building on the third Thursday of each month from 3:00-4:30 p.m.

  • Contemporary Issues Interest Group

    People sitting in a group talkingContemporary Issues (CI) is an interest group devoted to consideration of important news topics of the day. Invited guest speakers and CI committee members facilitate exploration of focus topics, followed by open discussions of contemporary issues suggested by staff and members.

    Recent focus topics include:

    • The deteriorating relations between U.S. and China
    • Implications of U.S. deficit and resulting debt
    • Climate change: Fact or Fantasy?
    • Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT

    Fall 2023 sessions will be on September 22 and November 10.

    To join, please contact Alan Corbett at alan.corbett@comcast.net or 804-651-0958.

  • Historically Speaking Interest Group

    Bronze statue of Abraham LincolnAs part of the group’s activities, the Historically Speaking Interest Group discusses both classic historical works and recent history books. We are for all those who love history and enjoy the fellowship of others who feel the same way. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Louis Cei at ceilb2@aol.com. Please join us!

    There is no cost to attend, but you must be a current Osher member. Most of the books can be checked out of a local library, purchased on Amazon, or found on reserve at UR’s Boatwright Library under the name of Louis B. Cei at the Reference Desk. Also you don’t have to have read the book to attend, but it is encouraged. Dates, times and locations will be announced by email. All meetings will be held via Zoom.

    2023-2024 Schedule of Readings

    Month Title Author
    October History of the French Revolution (1853, 1973) Jules Michelet
    November Yalta (2011) S.M. Plokhy
    February 2024 The Greek Way (1930) Edith Hamilton
    March Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (2021) Dan Jones
    April A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome (2021) Emma Southen
    June A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln (2017) Sidney Blumenthal
    August The Nation that Never Was (2020) Kermit Roosevelt
    September Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (1989) Simon Schama
    October Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity & Poverty (2012) Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson
    November America’s Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War (2008) David Milne
  • Investments Interest Group

    Photo of digital stock marketing status screensRaise your financial knowledge! Join with other members of the Osher Investment Interest Group (OIIG) when student classes are in session. Interact with senior students and other guest experts in the field of Investments and Personal Finance.

    Our speakers include Robins School of Business students who manage part of the University of Richmond endowment fund as they learn to buy and sell equities in the Student Managed Investment Fund. We also invite a variety of financial professionals from the Richmond area, who are dedicated to financial education and who can provide help increasing our collective financial knowledge.

    We meet from 10am–12pm in the Robins School of Business (building #102 on campus maps) during the fall and spring semesters only.

    Our sessions are scheduled for the second Friday of the month. Adjustments may occur when the scheduled meeting conflicts with students’ ability to attend.

    To be added to the meeting announcement email list, Osher members should email F. Brian McNeil at fbmcneil@gmail.com

Writing & Literary Life

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  • Literary Dreamers Interest Group

    Two people smiling and reading booksOsher members are welcome to join this group founded in 2001 by dedicated School of Professional & Continuing Studies students. Readings range from academic non-fiction to literary fiction to popular fiction. To join, please contact Jerry Lutkenhaus (jervalaw@aol.com) and Ginnie Manuel (vmanuelva@gmail.com).

    Unless otherwise specified, all meetings will be on the last Saturday of the month from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. in the University of Richmond’s Heilman Dining Center South Meeting Room (private glass dining room overlooking the lake).

    For Newcomers: When you walk into the building, as you approach the entrance to the dining room you will see a glassed-in enclosure across the way and to the right. That’s us! As part of our room reservation agreement we are asked to go through the cafeteria, which also means that we are each charged just under $10 for an all-you-can-eat buffet of a wide variety of food. The food is VERY good, and includes breakfast as well as lunch fare.

    Book Choices for 2024

    Date Title
    January 27 The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict
    February 24 Trust by Hernan Diaz
    March 30 How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith
    April 27 Endurance by Alfred Lansing
    May 25 As You Like It by William Shakespeare
    June 29 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    July 27 Class by Stephanie Land
    August 31 The House is on Fire by Rachel Beanland
    September 28 My Antonia by Willa Cather
    October 26 The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox
    November 23 Migrations by Charlotte McConaughy
    December 7 2025 Book Selection Meeting
  • Memoir Writing Interest Groups

    Two people at a table laughingAre you interested in writing your life story — in small chunks and with the help of like-minded others? We are a supportive group that meets at least monthly, sharing our writing and offering advice and feedback to one another. This is not a group that focuses on publication but on evoking memories and improving our writing.

    Because of the necessity to create a small, intimate group, our first group, led by Lynn Blankman, is currently at capacity. Our second group, led by Karen Mizrach, is also full.


    We are currently accepting members in a new, third group, led by Lisa Johnson: lajohnson978@gmail.com.

  • Mystery Lovers Interest Group

    Sleuthing materials (magnifying glass, tweed hat)Are you a mystery reader? Come once a month to discuss mysteries old and new, from Agatha Christie to Louise Penny and from senior sleuths to international detectives.

    When: Generally the last Monday of the months of September through November and January through May at 3:30 p.m.

    Where: Location to be announced before the September 2023 meeting.

    If you’d like to attend, please email Nancy Newins, group convener, at nnewins@verizon.net for more information.

  • Theater Lovers Interest Group

    Photo taken from behind people looking at a theatre stageA love for live theater is the only prerequisite for joining this interest group. This Osher interest group explores the Richmond theater scene by selecting and attending performances year round. Announcements for shows are sent to group members via email.

    There is a wonderful social aspect to this group. When appropriate, we gather after a performance for discussion and a bite to eat.

    The group also attends impromptu movies and music concerts. To learn more and to join, please email oshertheater@gmail.com.