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La Roche University Encourages Lifelong Learning

The Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning group had the opportunity to travel abroad to Italy.
The Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning group had the opportunity to travel abroad to Italy.

Two years ago, La Roche University launched the Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning with a dozen programs. Fifty-five people signed up. Today, the center touts 480 members who spend quality time on campus rediscovering the joy of learning while expanding their social networks.

Art class. Photo by Phil Pavely
Art class. Photo by Phil Pavely

“The quality of our instructors and the programs the members have been able to take advantage of have made the difference,” said Jennifer Engel, the center’s executive director.

When La Roche created the program, it did so with the desire to share its resources and beautiful campus with the community. The membership-based program for adults 50 and better offers a variety of learning experiences without the pressure of grades, assignments or exams. “We have everything from Artificial Intelligence to yoga and everything in between,” said Engel. “Our current youngest member is 48 and the oldest member that we know of is 94.”

Spanikopita cooking class.
Spanikopita cooking class.

The small, but outward-focused campus community is full of people figuring out how to be good global citizens and lifelong learners, said Engel. People are coming and staying in the membership program because La Roche’s mission and core values resonate with them. “When people join, they feel welcome and included. People who come here have lost friends or networks after retirement, and they’ve found another community to be part of,” said Engel.

Annual memberships for the center operate on the same three-term system as the university, with fall, spring, and summer sessions. There’s also a J-term, which happens during the extended break between the fall and spring semesters at the university. During the J-term session, the center offers some classes they don’t typically host during the fall, spring, and summer. One of the more popular classes offered during the term was a DIY course that taught members how to do some minor household fixes and projects themselves.

About 70 percent of the classes offered each session are academic and feature new content. Some of the more popular classes like astronomy or others with restricted class sizes appear on more than one term. “There are some of those classes that have to be small, like astronomy or art classes, so we’ll offer them more frequently,” said Engel.

unctional fitness class.
unctional fitness class.

History classes are among the most popular, followed by fitness. Most of what they offer is member-driven. A history class on the Korean War coming this fall was requested by members.

Engel said the center tries to keep materials needed for classes to a minimum to make them more affordable for members. Literature courses may require a book purchase or borrowing from the local library to read and discuss. Specialized art classes might charge an extra fee to cover the cost of materials. The wine tasting class is another one where members can expect to pay a little extra beyond the annual membership.

Fall 2023 launch for Lifelong Learning. Photo courtesy La Roche University
Fall 2023 launch for Lifelong Learning. Photo courtesy La Roche University

La Roche’s study abroad program is open to learning center members for an additional fee. Last year, the group had the opportunity to travel abroad to Italy. A trip to Greece is planned for this fall, said Engel.

A basic membership costs $200 annually and includes all classes and most fitness programs. Individuals who sign up for this level can take as many classes as they want. They also have the option of auditing an undergraduate course. The membership provides discounts for the campus dining hall and bookstore, a La Roche ID that provides access to the campus library system, and invitations to most La Roche events.

La Roche’s plus membership costs $300 annually and includes all the amenities of the basic membership, plus access to all fitness classes, space permitting, the indoor walking track and the swimming pool.

A trip to Italy. Photo courtesy La Roche University
A trip to Italy.

Most of the center’s instructors are La Roche professors and staff members. Engel said La Roche is always seeking new instructors interested in sharing their knowledge with program enrollees. Retired teachers and experts in a particular field are welcome to apply to teach in the program. “We’re looking for people who have a passion for teaching and some knowledge base for that subject,” she said. “Typically, we want the program’s academic courses to be at the college level.”

Members have the option of taking classes simultaneously from one session to the next. Most fit into this category, Engel said. “Some people may skip a term, especially if they’re snowbirds in the winter months, but the majority take classes in every single session.”

Participation varies, with some members signing up for one class per session and others loading up with four to five courses. Visit to learn more about the lifelong learning program or to enroll.

Don’t fit into the 50-plus demographic but are interested in enjoying all that La Roche has to offer the community? The university also hosts a variety of youth camps for the summer. Learn more about what’s available plus how to sign up at

Engel said the university also partnered with the Sisters of Divine Providence and Kearns Spirituality Center to start offering programs and rentals of their spaces for the community. The swimming pool is available for pool parties for up to 25 people including certified lifeguards. Kearns Spirituality Center is open for programs and conference and retreat rentals, and the Sisters of Divine Providence’s gorgeous chapel is available to host weddings and other events.

For more information, visit, email or call 412-536-1026.

Fall Information Session

Tuesday, July 23 at 11am at Kearns Spirituality Center (learn about the program and membership options)

Fall Registration

Opens Tuesday, July 30 at 8:30am

Fall Preview

Wednesday, August 21 at 1pm in the Ryan Room on La Roche’s Campus (learn about the program, join the membership, and register for classes)


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