Message from the President

Dear <<First Name>>,

On November 20, seven Bard LLI officers, committee and team chairs—Susan Christoffersen, Carmela Gersbeck, Jill Lundquist, Marge Moran, Deborah Schwartz, Linda Still, and I—attended the Regional LLI Conference hosted on Zoom by the Marist Center for Lifetime Studies (CLS). The purpose of the meeting was to provide a broader perspective of the challenges and successes of transitioning to online learning and to share possible strategies for the future. After introductions by the attendees from the nine programs represented, we divided into breakout sessions to discuss Curriculum, Finance, Membership, and Online Logistical/Tech Challenges. We then reconvened to recap and address future planning. A comprehensive conference report will be posted on our website when it is distributed by Marist CLS.

Overall, we learned anew that each lifetime learning program is unique, but we face many similar issues. It was extremely interesting and very informative to hear about other groups’ inventive solutions to some of our common problems. The discussions were thought-provoking and sparked new questions and helpful feedback. 

We also detailed some of our Bard LLI expertise to benefit the group. For example, sharing our Online Team's most effective Zoom training points from both SummerFest and this past fall may help others to enhance their virtual presence. We also briefly introduced our current Sustained Leadership Development initiative and our hope to bring that full presentation to a future conference.

The smaller breakout groups discussed current plans to engage and support members. Might different social gathering ideas be well received at Bard LLI? How have others set their membership fees for probable online semesters with a still uncertain in-person future? Is it possible to meld some online courses given by presenters who teach for multiple groups? Will hybrid courses (some online, some in person) become our new norm? These were a few of our take-away questions.

The mini-conference schedule allowed for only a brief mention of many key topics, but, meeting on Zoom, we connected very personally with the other attendees. We welcome this kinship with our area counterparts and would like to meet more regularly either online or, hopefully, in person. Out of the difficult challenges of our times arose new relationships and valuable ideas to explore in the months ahead.

Most apparent to all was our remarkable shared commitment to the lifetime learning model and to anticipating and responding to the changing needs of our members. It was a pleasure to represent Bard LLI among our regional friends and to look forward to greater collaboration. Please read the report when it is posted, and let us know what you think!

In this most cherished season, I send my best wishes for joy in our hearts, good health always, and fellowship and peace among us.

Sara Hardman, LLI’s First President
by Felice Gelman

Like three of the four founders of Bard LLI, Sara Hardman had recently moved to the area. She worried that there would be no cultural life. Little did she know! In her first week in her new home, she called the Red Hook Library hoping to find a book group. She found “an incredible book group” full of interesting and accomplished people. She and several others also tried to join the Marist Center for Lifetime Study, only to find a years’ long waiting list.  

They were not discouraged. At the suggestion of Sylvia Erber, they decided to start their own Lifelong Learning Institute. Sara said, “We had this great idea. Everyone we talked to about it was excited. . . . The path just opened up. I don’t remember any hurdles.” It’s hard to imagine it was that simple and, in fact, a lot of work went into developing the program. 
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Bard LLI's Rising Stars -- Part 1

by Carmela Gersbeck and Susan Phillips

If you took an online class at Bard LLI or registered on ProClass over the past seven months, you may have wondered how Bard LLI pulled it all together to transition from in-person classes to Zoom classes in a matter of weeks, while also transitioning to ProClass. Bard LLI’s technology rollouts and online programs were the result of hours and hours of meetings, rehearsals, and planning sessions, with an all-volunteer workforce, and included some members who joined Bard LLI as recently as 2020! In Part 1 of this two-part series, we profile some of these members and ask why they volunteered to join us on this journey, devoting so much time for no pay.  Here’s what they had to say. 
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LLI Artists on Display
by Chuck Mishaan

The Annual Bard LLI Art Show has a long history and, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we are continuing the tradition. The Bard LLI membership comprises many skilled artisans and devoted artists, and we welcome the opportunity to give them this opportunity to exhibit their work.

The 2020 Art Show is digital only, and the selections are on the website. Photographs and photos of paintings and other works of art and crafts are on display. We will keep the exhibit available online indefinitely and add new submissions as they become available. Click on an image to advance to the next image, or use the up and down arrows on the keyboard to navigate through the images.

You are still welcome to submit your own work. You can provide photographs or photos of other artworks here. Submissions are limited to two per artist, and the images can be uploaded directly within the Art Show Application. There is a maximum image size of 25 mb.
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Acrostic Poem of Gratitude
From the Poets of Class F1E
by Gary Miller

One might say presentations at Bard LLI fall into two categories: passive and participatory. Sitting and watching our computer screen, listening to the presenter share his or her knowledge, contrasts dramatically with a class where the presenter asks members to exercise using a chair, paint with a brush, or write with words. And poetry, without a doubt, is at the top of the latter list. Anique Sara Taylor, in her Writing for Poetry class, has once again assembled a group of members, of spiritual comrades, and each week, like magic, inspires our words by sharing her words. She draws from decades of experience, credentials as long as your arm, and in seven short weeks frees our minds in ways no one could have imagined. And then we cajole those words into poems. Whether good or bad, they are our poems, and ones we relish. 

This semester, members of the class contributed lines forming an acrostic poem. If you read down the first letter of each line, it spells out her name, Anique Sara Taylor. When you read the poem line by line, it expresses gratitude and love. Thank you, Anique. 

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Bulletin -- This Just In!

Bard LLI In the “Breaking News” Business

by Gary Miller

By now we’ve adjusted to the world of Zoom at Bard LLI. The good, the bad, and the, well, ugly. Most of the time we enjoy the new environment as simply a way to cope with the sea change of learning. It’s worked for us, thanks to our presenters, session managers, and Online Team.

In most years, by the time the U.S. presidential election results were over and their effect on our society discussed, analyzed, and debated, we wouldn't discuss it on the Bard campus until the following spring. 

But what if, socializing in room 305 over a cup of coffee, a small group had gathered around presenter Michael Simpler and discussed the possibility of attending postelection classes, immediately, right on the spot. Ahhh, folks would say, too bad we couldn’t move that quickly.

Zoom to the rescue. Near the end of Michael’s seven-week-long class, “America’s Global Role,” he polled members, asking if they’d be interested in such a class. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Michael organized his Zoom presentation room (not unlike a director’s suite in television) and prepared for the event in short order.

And so, on November 12, 2020, nearing the end of what has been described as the most turbulent year in U.S. history, Michael’s class gathered in an extraordinary extra session, to discuss the key thoughts of members. Zoom gave Bard LLI the chance to turn on a dime.

Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, in the middle of class, we will hear “Bulletin—This Just In.” 
Fall Classes Through a Zoom Lens
by Deborah Lanser

LLI members often have strong opinions, which we are willing to share when given a chance. That chance came when we were asked to complete our evaluation forms for the fall classes. As usual, those forms asked specifically about course content and presenter. However, many of us used the comments section to also provide feedback about how using Zoom affected various aspects of our class experience, from the ability of the presenters and session managers to work with the new technology, to the quality of the class discussion, to the ease of seeing the classroom presentations. Attendance in the fall classes was higher than it’s been in previous years, which suggests that members generally adapted well. Here is a representative sample of the reactions, both pro and con, to various aspects of online learning.
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For Information and Entertainment
by Deborah Lanser

Want to know what’s on the schedule for WinterFest? Check out the artwork created by talented LLI members? Find out who chairs the Curriculum Committee? Access online concerts from the Bard Conservatory? Or just browse an informative website chock full of useful information? Your best resource is the Bard LLI website, In fact, just bookmark it and check it out occasionally. It will give you information such as how to access Zoom classes or the starting date for the spring semester, all of which can help you make the most of your LLI membership. 
Plan for January WinterFest
by Cathy Reinis

Now’s the time to make sure you have put the WinterFest programs (formerly Intersession) on your calendar for January and to invite a friend to get to know LLI. My brand new 2021 calendar is filled out for every Wednesday in January and the first one in February with such interesting programs. One thing I love about WinterFest is how varied the mix of programs really is: everything from an analysis of a horrible plane crash to a career in ballet, from the beautiful Woodstock Chimes to a history of women who were lighthouse keepers. If you haven’t done it yet, go to ProClass 
to set up your Wednesday calendar through February 3—and think about a friend who might enjoy each program. Although the catalog is in ProClass, you don't need to register for classes. Each week you will be sent a link to join the presentations. You may forward that link to a friend.  

See you at WinterFest!
A Lifetime of Learning: Giving Back to Bard
by Nanci Kryzak

During our usual on-campus years, Bard College gives LLI so much: use of classrooms and facilities, campus parking, Stevenson Library membership, Fisher Center discounts, Bard ID card perks, and much more. Even with the campus currently closed, LLI enjoys virtual access to myriad musical performances, special events, and learning opportunities through Bard’s exceptional program diversity. Bard allowed LLI free access to G-Suite for Education, which is now critical to LLI operations. Our LLI infrastructure is supported by Bard’s information services, and our finances are integrated with Bard’s account management.

In gratitude this fiscal year, the LLI Council has approved the Finance Committee’s recommendations for a wide range of donations to support both ongoing and new innovative programs at Bard. Read more for an overview:
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In Memoriam: Marcie Woodruff
With sorrow, we have learned of the death of our longtime member Marcie Woodruff. Marcie was an early and active member of LLI, serving on Council, producing a course on the Harlem Renaissance for Curriculum, and acting as a class manager. To learn more about her life and to offer condolences to her family, visit
Council Notes from November
The Council authorized a Deed of Gift without restriction to authorize the Stevenson Library to take over the LLI archival material. Some documents were in the library, while others were in a cabinet drawer in the Bertelsmann Campus Center. The Library will digitize the files; they can then be accessed by anyone interested in learning about LLI’s history.

The Curriculum Team has decided to maintain the Thursday and Friday schedule for the Spring 2021 semester. Spring Courses will start on March 18 and finish on April 30. SummerFest will be held on the four Fridays in June. All are on Zoom, of course.

Four members sat in on the meeting as guests to learn more about how LLI works. All said they were impressed by the cooperative spirit of Council members and by how well the meeting was conducted. All expect to join in to support LLI. Any member interested in observing a Council meeting should email Linda Stanley at
Bard Calendar Highlights
by Felice Gelman

This month Bard classes are in an on-line mode but the college still has figured out how to continue its amazing menu of intellectual delights at a social distance. In fact, we’re a bit sad that we didn’t share some of last month’s interesting events for the November newsletter. (Of course you can always find out what’s going on by checking the Bard Events Calendar.) We’re paying attention now so we hope to keep you up to date with a selection of Bard’s offerings. 

First, if you are comfortable with a limited access museum visit, do not miss the CCS Bard exhibit
Sky Hopinka - Centers of Somewhere. You must reserve your time here. This multichannel work deals with the histories of indigenous people of the Hudson Valley and their displacement elsewhere in the country. The exhibit runs through February 14. 

And don’t miss Meshell Ndegeocello’s Chapter & Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin, a multimedia offering upstreamed
here. December is the final month of Ndegeocello’s project inspired by James Baldwin’s prophetic work The Fire Next Time. 

From December 11 through December 18, the 3rd Annual China Now Music Festival will feature evening zoom events—musical performances, webinars, documentaries—illuminating the Chinese understanding of Beethoven. Check the schedule
here for each day’s times and details. You must register here for these events to receive the zoom links.
And, finally, this month is the final month for the upstreaming of
There the Dance Is, a 45-minute documentary discussing the process of creating last year’s music and dance illustrated reading of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. At the same link, you can access an audiobook of Kathleen Chalfant’s wonderful reading of Eliot’s poem quartet.  
Upcoming Dates for LLI
Important Dates for Members:

December 8 - Curriculum Committee Meeting (if you would like to attend, please email Bill Tuel at

December 10 - Vision Quest: I Feel Like Makin' Dreams Come True Social Gathering. If you would like to attend, please
register here. (Login to ProClass and select Events in the "Select Semester" box.)
December 21 - Council meeting (if you would like to attend, please email Linda Stanley at

January 6 - February 3 - WinterFest on Zoom (Five Wednesdays, beginning January 6). Members will receive the Zoom invitation the Thursday before each class. Email Carmela Gersbeck at if you are not a member and would like to attend.

January 6 - January 17 - Call for Council Nominations

January 12 - Curriculum Committee Meeting (if you would like to attend, please email Bill Tuel at

January 19 - Council Meeting (MLK, Jr. Day is Monday, January 18, this is a Tuesday). if you would like to attend, please email Linda Stanley at
This newsletter is a publication of Bard LLI Council. Communications Team Chair: Cathy Reinis. Writers and editors: Susan Christoffersen, Felice Gelman, Carmela Gersbeck, Susan Hinkle, Deborah Lanser, Jill Lundquist, Susan Manuel, Dona McLaughlin, Kathy OConnor, Susan Phillips, Margaret Shuhala. Photographers: Gary Miller, Chair, Carmela Gersbeck, Kathy OConnor
Bard LLI Newsletters are always available on our website at

Copyright © 2020 Bard LLI, All rights reserved.

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