Northwestern Emeriti Organization Wins Innovation Award for “Mini-Courses”

The Northwestern Emeriti Organization (NEO) has won a prestigious national award for establishing a series of “mini-courses” taught by retired faculty for residents of Evanston and other local communities.

Classes began in the fall of 2019 in partnership with the Evanston Public Library. So far, seven classes have been taught by Northwestern faculty, with class attendance ranging from 50 to 300.

“It’s innovative initiatives like this that are hallmarks of an ‘engaged university,’ where the ‘city’ and the ‘dress’ work together to improve life on both sides of the proverbial campus fence,” said writes Sumit Dhar, vice-rector at the faculty, in endorsing the NEO award nomination.

NEO is made up of approximately 630 retired faculty members who have been awarded the title “emeritus” or “emeritus” by the Northwestern University Board of Trustees.

The “Innovation Award” for Mini-Courses is one of three awarded this year by the National Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE) to organizations that demonstrate leadership, service and of innovation.

“Emeritus and Emeritus are effective contributors to their communities,” said Jeff Garrett, Librarian Emeritus and President-Elect of NEO. right direction and might even be a role model for others.”

At the start of her tenure as NEO president in 2019, Professor Emeritus Michal Ginsburg proposed launching no-credit, no-cost “mini-courses” for local residents, with each course taking place over two 90-minute sessions. She believed they would tap into the expertise of retired Northwestern professors in a range of disciplines, allowing these professors to give back to the community by volunteering their time.

Ginsburg and Garrett shared the mini-course idea with the administration of the Evanston Public Library System – and the partnership was created. Prior to the pandemic, classes were conducted at EPL’s main branch in downtown Evanston. They are promoted in part through EPL’s bi-weekly newsletter, reaching 30,000 Evanston households.

Professor Emeritus David Zarefsky taught the first mini-course, titled “Four Lincoln Masterpieces,” in late 2019 to a “live audience” of about 125 people. A course delivered virtually last spring by Professor Patty Loew on “A Native History of the Upper Great Lakes Region” drew a record 300 attendees. In November, Emeritus Professor Wesley Skogan gave a course on “Police Reform: Progress and Pitfalls.”

Classes for the first part of 2022 include “Perspectives on French Impressionism,” which drew around 200 attendees, by Professor Emeritus Hollis Clayson and “SCOTUS: Law and Politics” by Professor Emeritus Jerry Goldman on April 26 and 3 may. courses in person or online. In response to the ongoing pandemic, “SCOTUS: Law and Politics” can be edited in virtual mode only.

“Like everyone else, with the pandemic, we were forced to turn around and offer the courses online,” said Roger Boye, outgoing president of NEO who submitted the nomination for the award. “But the silver lining is that we’ve been able to accommodate many more people online, extending our reach and community involvement.”

Time will tell if classes return in-person at the EPL or if they will be offered both in-person and virtually.

“Either way, these courses are central to NEO’s mission to strengthen ties between emeritus, the University and local communities,” he said.

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