Osher Institute Strategic Plan

The Osher Institute embarked on a strategic planning process in June 2014. The objective of this planning process was to assess current conditions and trends and identify near-term and longer-term initiatives to enhance and improve the program for lifelong learning. The strategic plan report was approved and implementation has begun. Each year we’ll report on our progress.

As a guiding principle the team sought to strengthen an already strong program to ensure sustainability, which will result in moderate growth in membership through reduced attrition. Based on the results of data analysis and initial survey results, the planning team identified five strategic themes. These strategic themes are detailed below.

The original strategic plan (2014) is available for review, along with the amended strategic plan (2017). Annual progress reports are listed below.

Strategic Themes

1. Keep Our Core Membership Participating

Generally speaking, the core membership is made up of individuals who have been members for two years or longer. They constitute the great majority of class registrations at Osher at UR and are, for the most part, the source of volunteers, leadership and program stability. Accordingly, a key part of the strategic plan is focused on initiatives to keep those core members as a vibrant part of the program.

2. Attract and Keep New Members

Osher at UR needs to attract and keep new members in the program. New members provide new life experiences, insights and interests to keep the program strong. Moreover, as core members move from the area or leave the program for other reasons, new members help maintain a steady state of membership. However, roughly half of new members are members for only one year and there is a subsequent churning in membership. While that figure is not extraordinary compared to other Osher programs, it does reflect an inefficiency that we would like to reduce. 

3. Continue to Build New and Enhance Existing UR Relationships

Osher at UR enjoys an outstanding relationship with the broader UR community in the form of: UR professors and staff who voluntarily teach classes; first-rate classroom availability; technical support to instructors; discounts for the bookstore and various UR functions; access to the UR email system; and use of the Boatwright Library, to name a few. In the membership survey, 65% of respondents indicated that they would welcome having more UR faculty involved in the Osher program. In developing this strategic plan we felt that it is important that Osher should be increasingly supportive of the University.

4. Increase Inclusion

The analysis of registration data showed that most Osher members live in an area that is west of I-95, south of I-295, east of Route 288 and north of Hull Street, with a heavier concentration in the Zip Codes closest to the UR campus. In addition, the membership survey determined that 92% of respondents are white or Caucasian. The working group believes that expanding our geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic reach could enhance the program by bringing different viewpoints and life experiences to the Osher membership.

5. Expand Osher Outreach in the Greater Richmond Area

Osher at UR already leverages its position as the unique provider of lifelong learning in an academic setting in the Richmond area. Examples include its partnership with the Rose Group in support of China Fest, its relationship with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Historical Society and the Civil War Roundtable. We believe that continuation and expansion of this outreach will provide for a more robust and intellectually stimulating program for Osher members at the University of Richmond.

Progress Reports

Implementation of the Osher Institute strategic plan began in 2014. Each year the Institute will provide an update on progress in each of our strategic theme areas.

Member Surveys

The Osher Institute committed to conducting a membership survey every two years. To meet that commitment, we survey our members every two years in the fall. A Powerpoint provides an overview and analysis of the results, starting in 2016.