Special Programs

Notice: Until further notice, special events will occur virtually

Currently, our special events programming has been moved online or postponed until further notice. Please watch the OLLI at UNC Asheville Observer or contact us at olli@unca.edu for more information.

Advance Care Planning

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville regularly holds an advance care planning (ACP) workshops Stay tuned for the next date!  Workshops feature a panel whose members are experienced in addressing end-of-life issues. The discussion will include communicating your treatment wishes to loved ones and to medical personnel, ethical and legal issues, and the uses of advance directives.  Ample time will be reserved for questions. Assistance will be provided for anyone wishing to complete a legally valid advance directive, including the notarization required in North Carolina, using the NC ACP “Short Form”.

Preparation for you to do before the workshop:  Talk to your possible “power of attorney for healthcare”, the person who would make health care decisions if you are unable.  Click here for a video of a sample conversation, starring OLLI member Mary Campbell.  If you have internet access and a printer, click here to access a copy of the ACP Short form.  Please print the form, study it, and bring it to the workshop along with any questions you might have for the panel.

Here’s how to have your Advanced Directive (AD) added to the Mission Medical Record. Click here for a permission form; if you have not been a patient at Mission, fill it out. Get a copy of the notarized AD and a completed permission form (if needed) to Advance Care Planning at Mission by one of the following options: either ask a Mission representative at a workshop to do it, or, use the information at the bottom of the permission form to transmit the forms, by mail, fax, or email attachments.

The workshop will take place in the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus, at the north end of the campus map (Click here to see map). This workshop is free and open to everyone, adults of all ages. Co-sponsored by OLLI and Mission Health Partners. For more information, call OLLI, 828.251.6140 or email  olli@unca.eduClick here to view an event flier.

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Astronomy Club of Asheville

The Astronomy Club of Asheville meets the first Thursday of each month, from 7- 9 p.m., (except for January and July), with an interesting lineup of speakers and topics. OLLI members may attend the club meetings and stargazes, with club members on hand to advise and assist them in the basics of astronomy and the techniques of observing celestial phenomena. Meetings are currently all virtual.

  • Thursday, February 11, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
    • “Detecting Life Beyond Earth,”  Presented by Robert P. Naeye, former editor-in-chief of Sky & Telescope Magazine
    • For more information on the Astronomy Club of Asheville, visit their website at www.astroasheville.org.

Behind the Scenes at NC Stage

Go behind the scenes of professional theatre with NC Stage Artistic Director and co-founder Charlie Flynn-McIver.  Explore the themes of this season’s plays, talk with the actors, directors and designers about design concepts and the rehearsal process, and experience a scene or two performed live.  Join us for an insider’s view of how theatre happens!  Free and open to the public, this series is scheduled in the Manheimer Room when we meet face-to-face.  This ongoing series is currently postponed until further notice. For more information on NC Stage, visit their website. Check Back for Virtual Programming with NC Stage

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Blue Ridge Audubon Society

The Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Audubon Society has a mission to protect birds and their habitats and to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature. Blue Ridge Audubon Society schedules educational programs on the third Tuesdays of the month, at the Reuter Center when we are face-to-face, and for now online only. Programs are free and open to everyone.  Find out more at their website, www.emasnc.org.

  • Blue Ridge Audubon program meetings will resume in March 2021. For now, we expect BRAC programs to be online this spring.

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The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association

The Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) was founded in 1992 to promote nature photography in the Carolinas, to help conserve and preserve the diverse natural ecosystems in the Carolinas and to educate others interested in nature and wildlife photography. The association is divided into regions for more close-at-hand activities. The CNPA-Asheville Region’s goal is to develop a group that will more fully experience the beauty of Western  North Carolina through photography. Activities in the Asheville Region include monthly meetings, photo outings, seminars, workshops, exhibits, photo contests, and image critiques. The monthly meetings are usually held at the Reuter Center on the second Sunday of each month from 5:30-8 p.m. 

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Death Café

“Death Café” is an engaging gathering with storytelling and conversation about a topic that too often alienates people in our death-phobic culture. At Death Café participants break into small groups of five or six people and discuss personal stories related to the death of loved ones, loss of jobs, relationships or marriages, or loss or death of parts of ourselves. These programs are facilitated by Karen Sanders, Greg Lathrop, and Said Osio from Third Messenger. All programming is currently virtual.

You can learn more about Death Café by visiting: deathcafe.com/thirdmessenger.com and facebook.com/deathcafeasheville

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Fab Fridays Lunch & Learn Lectures

On  Fridays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. during the term, this series of lunch and learn lectures continues to delight and inform. Held in the Manheimer Room (Currently online only) Fab Fridays are free and open to everyone. End your week and start your weekend with Fab Fridays. Don’t miss these great programs.

January 15: Showing the Blue Ridge Parkway Some Love

Learn about an organization that supports the National Park Service (NPS) in protecting and preserving the Parkway in this era of tight funding constraints.  Carolyn Ward is CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, headquartered here in Asheville, and will share her passion for the Parkway and her vision for its future. The Foundation is a close nonprofit ally of the NPS enabling numerous projects such as the operation of the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia; the renovation of the Moses Cone house; and clearing overgrown scenic overlooks.  A Foundation program to engage children to enjoy our parks, fostering the next generation of advocates for the park system, has become a national model. A native of the Blue Ridge, Ward began her career at Hungry Mother State Park.  She has been a professor and an award-winning researcher and author.  She was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for her collaborations with the Park Service, state parks, and other nonprofits and foundations.

January 22: Dr. Adam Kaufman: Avoiding Hip Fractures

Dr. Kaufman graduated with honors, summa cum laude from Bucknell University, where he was named Most Outstanding Student and twice named Student-Athlete of the Year. He attended Harvard Medical School and completed his internship and residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University Hospital. He then completed subspecialty fellowship training in orthopedic trauma surgery at the prestigious University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Hospital, one of the busiest trauma hospitals in the country. He then relocated to Asheville with his family. Dr. Kaufman volunteers regularly at the WNC Rescue Ministries, is a Cub Scout Leader, and received HCA’s first annual Frist Humanitarian Award for his community service. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys running, fishing, and rockhounding with his two boys. Dr. Kaufman’s clinical interests include total hip replacement, surgery of the pelvis and acetabulum, elderly and pediatric fracture care, peri-articular (around a joint) fracture care, nonunion/malunion correction, post-traumatic reconstruction, and the treatment of musculoskeletal infections. He is a Surgeon Ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Foundation and oversees Mission’s Fracture Prevention and Bone Health Clinic. Dr. Kaufman regularly teaches at national courses designed to educate other surgeons on fracture care. He is an active researcher and has presented lectures and published numerous articles on fracture surgery, post-traumatic total joint replacement, and soft tissue reconstruction.

January 29: Bryan Tompkins, The Crucial Role of Pollinators – Amazing facts

NC has over 500 species of bees, 2,300 species of moths, and nearly 200 species of butterflies. Sadly, many of these pollinators are disappearing. Loss of habitat, pesticides, disease, climate change, and invasive species affect the health of native pollinators. We will explore the
variety and needs of rare pollinators in NC. There are conservation actions that anyone can take using citizen science platforms. Join us as we cover enhancing, restoring, and creating pollinator habitat and why it is now more important than ever. Bryan Tompkins first worked with the National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but for the past 15 years has been a Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Asheville. He is the Southeast Region recovery biologist for the federally endangered rusty-patched bumblebee, and is the Energy Project Coordinator, reviewing energy development projects (hydropower, coal, natural gas, solar, and wind farms) to protect threatened species from negative impacts. He is a founding member of the NC Pollinator Conservation Alliance – linking state and federal agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and non-profits in advancing pollinator conservation. He is an active member of the Asheville Bee City Leadership Committee.

February 5:

There be no Fab Friday on February 5, 2021.

February 12: Erik Vedeler — Early Electricity in Asheville – an Unlikely Trend Setter in the Gilded Age?

Decades before much of Southern Appalachia had any of the benefits of the modern industrial or so-called Gilded Age, our own City of Asheville was a trendsetter in technologies that would eventually become commonplace worldwide.  Electric power is today a cornerstone of modern society but who would have thought Asheville North Carolina would be among the very earliest to showcase it?  And why this place? Before the 20th century, this town of 10,000 residents had electric trolley cars for the public (the first in NC), the first electric elevator in the south (Battery Park Hotel), electric lighting in today’s Pack Square, and of course the magnificent electrified Biltmore Estate with its well preserved period gadgets. To supply burgeoning interest for electrical conveniences, business opportunities exploded and some Asheville streets and points of interest are named after these pioneers.  UNCA’s own southeastern boundary, WT Weaver Blvd, is one, and Carrier Park on the French Broad is another named after the first to provide Asheville’s hydro-electricity from Hominy Creek. Come hear Erik Vedeler, Ph.D., share funny and surprising stories of the race between the first electric trolley and one pulled by 6 draft horses, trolleys jumping their tracks with sparks a-flyin’ and clogs in the Hominy Creek power station being dislodged with a stick of dynamite before the lights in town blinked out. Erik Vedeler retired from NASA after a 26-year-career at Langley Research Center.  He was the head of the Electromagnetics and Sensors Branch and a microwave measurements researcher.


February 26: Tasha Woodall – Do you feel like you take too many Medications?

Talk to Your Doctor(s) about “Deprescribing” Geriatric clinical pharmacist Tasha Woodall will discuss the growing problem of polypharmacy, the use of more medications than are appropriate. Polypharmacy, or “medication overload,” places older adults at increased risk for adverse drug events, drug interactions, and other potentially harmful outcomes. Dr. Woodall’s primary focus will be to address this issue through the process of “deprescribing.” When deprescribing is undertaken as an informed consumer, and especially in partnership with your prescriber, deprescribing has been proven to reduce the risk of problematic outcomes from excessive medication use. Dr. Woodall is a Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner with MAHEC Geriatrics and a clinical faculty member with UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Register at this link: Once you have registered, you will receive a link to join.

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Introduction to Medicare – Understanding the Puzzle

The Council on Aging of Buncombe County, in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Insurance’s
Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), is hosting a series of classes on “introduction to
Medicare – Understanding the Puzzle”. The classes will explain how Medicare works, the enrollment process, how to avoid penalties, and ways to save money. The classes are held via Zoom and are free and open to the public. Residents who are new to Medicare, caregivers, and others who help senior citizens with their Medicare insurance should consider attending this informative class. The information presented is unbiased and accurate. No products are sold, recommended, or endorsed.
To register, visit the Council on Aging of Buncombe County’s website (www.coabc.org) or call the Council on Aging at 828.277.8288.

  • Thursday, February 25, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
  • Thursday, March 25, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

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New Member Welcome!

Are you new to OLLI at UNC Asheville and the Reuter Center? Are you returning after being gone awhile? Come to the New Member Welcome to learn about all that OLLI has to offer and about ways to get involved. Meet other members and learn what it means to “grow through life.” Our Spring 2021 online New Member Welcome will take place Friday, March 19, 2021, 10 a.m. Please watch the newsletter or email Jacqueline Lowe at jdlowe@unca.edu for the link to join.

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OLLI Authors

OLLI Authors is a book talk series designed to recognize the many very talented poetry and prose writers among OLLI members.  OLLI Authors features readings by two published authors.  OLLI Members will be the featured writers, reading from their works. This series is free and open to the public. Click here to view the OLLI Authors List that reflects books written by OLLI members while members of the OLLI community.

  • Spring Date to-be-announced
    • OLLI Authors, a quarterly reading program, provides a forum for talented OLLI writers to showcase their creative efforts.  Each reading features two poets or prose authors. The series began in early 2017 and was interrupted by Covid-19 in the spring of 2020. October’s program marks the resumption of the series via Zoom online.
      • Please email Jacqueline Lowe for the Zoom Link: jdlowe@unca.edu

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Symphony Talk

Symphony Talks are an entertaining and educational way to hear about the music to be performed at the upcoming Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Masterworks Concerts.  ASO music director Darko Butorac and guest conductors appear with the soloist for upcoming concerts to talk about how the orchestra prepares and to offer ways to listen to the performance. For more information about the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, or to find out how to purchase tickets for performances at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, visit ashevillesymphony.org

• Symphony Talks are postponed until the symphony resumes its concert series.

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Western North Carolina Historical Association

The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) is excited to bring you a new virtual lecture series. Each month, WNCHA will feature an expert on various topics in Western North Carolina history and culture.

  • February 25, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
    • Peter Koch on the Settlement of Western NC: Our first speaker is the Museum Education Associate for Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center. Peter Koch will present on the settlement of and transportation within Western North Carolina. Join us for his presentation as well as a Q&A session following. Please pre-register for this event.
  • March 25, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
    • Dr. Ben Steere on Cherokee Mounds and Villages: Dr. Ben Steere of Western Carolina University presents research from his forthcoming book The Fire Yet Burns in These Great Mounds: Archaeology and Resilience in the Cherokee Heartland. Please pre-register for this event.
  • April 29, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
    • John Ager on Drover’s Road and Sherill’s Inn: Rep. John Ager will discuss the drover’s road through the Hickory Nut Gap and the historic Sherill’s Inn. Please pre-register for this event.
  • May 27, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
    • Kieta Osteen-Cochrane on the Von Ruck Sanitarium: Asheville native and WNCHA board member Kieta Osteen-Cochrane will present on the Von Ruck Sanitarium, one of many such facilities built in and around Asheville to treat tuberculosis patients in the late 1800s-early 1900s. The treatment of TB brought many changes to Asheville, including a boom in tourism and other such medical facilities. This program addresses a key period in the development of the city and region. Please pre-register for this event.

These events are brought to you by the Western North Carolina Historical Association and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville.

For questions, please email Trevor Freeman at education@wnchistory.org


World Affairs Council

The World Affairs Council organizes fascinating lectures and discussions that aim to advance international awareness and foster Western North Carolina’s global ties. These lectures are sponsored by the WNC chapter of the World Affairs Council, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville, and UNC Asheville Department of Political Science.


WAC members and UNCA students admitted without charge.  Single admission, $10.00. Co-sponsored by WAC-WNC, OLLI, & the UNCA Political Science Department. For more details about programs, consult the WAC website.

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