OLLI Donor Spotlight

Ruth and Walt Cates Fall 2017 


Just a few days after we both retired from careers at the Social Security Administration in January 2000, we learned about a unique organization at FSU that offered lifelong learning opportunities to people 50 and above. After attending an open house previewing the upcoming semester’s courses and activities, we both thought that interesting classes, without homework or grades, sounded like a great idea, so we joined. We have been members ever since and have never regretted that decision.

In addition to taking classes and enjoying activities, we soon became active volunteers. Walt was co-chair and then chair of the Field Trips Committee, during those years we went on many field trips with the group. For several years Walt served as the classroom "IT" guy, monitoring the lights, microphones and digital needs of the instructors who taught classes in the Broad auditorium at the Claude Pepper Center. Ruth was the Member President for one very memorable year, and has continued to serve on the OLLI Executive Board since then, taking on assignments like the Succession and Scholarship committees. We were hosts for an OLLI spring trip to St. Petersburg in 2012, and have continued to take classes and attend events every semester.

In the beginning, we knew nearly all the members, and Walt was able to attend every class because there were just six each semester! That changed when The Academy at FSU became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in 2008, and membership growth and program expansion became major goals. Today, with 1200 members and dozens of classes, it’s no longer possible to know every member or take part in all the classes and activities.

With so many years of intellectual enrichment, fascinating activities, productive volunteer opportunities and great friendships, we decided we wanted to support FSU financially. More than 15 years ago, we signed a President’s Club pledge that allowed us to contribute through the FSU Foundation over a period of 10 years, without the requirement to make a large cash outlay all at once. We decided on a specified amount of money that we wanted to contribute, and we were able to designate that our quarterly payments be divided between two colleges.

At the time we started as donors, there was no option in place to contribute to The Academy at FSU or later to OLLI specifically, but when that became possible, we decided to change our contribution designation to include OLLI as one of the two recipients of our donations. We are able to help finance OLLI scholarships with our contributions and feel that is a very worthwhile use of our money and something we can comfortably continue to do.


We are proud to be OLLI members and proud of what this program has become over the many years we have enjoyed membership. We are hopeful that our contributions, along with those of others, will enable OLLI, and lifelong learning, to continue indefinitely at FSU.

Ruth and Walt Cates