Sunday Conversation: Joseph McAuliffe, former hippie, pastor and history buff, now leads Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USF
By Philip Morgan, Times Staff Writer -
Joseph McAuliffe, 62, has been a hippie, a preacher, a fundraiser for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network and a campaign worker for both Republicans and Democrats. (His brother, Terry McAuliffe, is former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.) The former pastor of Tampa Covenant Church serves as coordinator of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Florida, which teaches noncredit courses to mainly senior citizens on topics ranging from the Renaissance to cooking, with most costing $30 to $60. McAuliffe, who has a master’s degree in history and teaches courses to undergraduates as well as lifelong learners, talked with Times staff writer Philip Morgan about Osher and his experiences.
Why is this program so popular?
People are here because they love education, they see the value of education. They understand how important it is to keep their minds active and learning at this stage of their lives. And it’s not just a volitional thing, like, “Hey, I should lose weight.” I frequently say that the DNA of this group is a love for education.
What are the popular classes?
The history classes are our most important classes. Then I would say with that would be the foreign policy, what we call geopolitics.
People love local history. We have partnered with the Tampa Bay History Center, and they are some of the largest classes we’ve ever done. About three years ago, we partnered a class with the history center on the history of Tampa itself … We had 178 students. A typical class, we have 15 to 25 students.
Both retired USF professors and those who are still working volunteer to teach these adult classes for free. Is it because they have such eager learners?
That’s precisely the reason why they teach. It is the reason why we’re able to retain volunteer faculty. So I always thank the members of our organization, our student members … They engage the teachers, and I think that unleashes something in the teacher of creativity and gratification. I think they get a satisfaction experience that they never had in all their years of teaching. Read more…