How Senior University Began
In the fall of 1997, on October 6th, a group of 35 Georgetown citizens met to explore the topic of continuing education for senior citizens in the Georgetown, Texas community. There was an exciting level of interest, and over the next few weeks, a steering committee began to form.
Dr. Linda Watkins agreed to be the first curriculum chairperson. Some of the initial 35 persons were asked to consider teaching classes and Dr. Watkins asked others to give one-hour lectures. Just two months later, on January 9, 1998, an orientation meeting was held to introduce the first classes and lectures. The first official Senior University session began on February 16, 1998, and ran for six weeks.
First Lectures & Classes
From the beginning, there was much community support for Senior University. Over 200 persons attended short presentations from Dr. Claude Proctor, “Cossacks, Icons and Caviar”; Bill Glass, “Great Books”; Jack Kelly “Great Decisions in Foreign Policy”; and Dr. Adam Blatner, “Psychological Literacy.” (The class with Claude filled and had 75 persons on a wait list!)
The “Great Decisions” group was split into three classes with Hugh Winn and Bill Meehan as additional leaders. “Great Books” quickly reached its limit and the “Psychology” class with Adam Blatner grew to 100+ persons. The minutes of the organization in early February showed an enrollment of 242 “students”.
The plan was to have students attend a six-week class of their choice and for all to attend a weekly lecture series on diverse topics. Included in that first term were the following lectures:
- “Sonnets of Shakespeare” by Dr. Walter Herbert
- “Crime in Texas” by Williamson County D.A. Ken Anderson
- “Your Elected Officials” by Dr. Christine Smart
- “Artists Who Painted Texas” by Marjorie Von Rosenberg
- “Art and Architecture of Italy” by Betty Lemley
- “From Hong Kong to Tiananmen Square” by Dr. Robert Hazelwood
Soon enough, we were off and running! Our first “Free and Open to the Public” lecture was given by Dr. Bill Sawyer on “Biological Weapons and Warfare” on March 12, 1998. Another six week semester started only a few weeks later in April, and a four-week summer session followed in July 1998. The fall term offered additional locations at First Baptist Church in the daytime and First United Methodist Church in the evening.
Senior University could not have asked for a more successful first year of operation.
Early Organization Members
Early organizational members included: Jack Kelly, Linda Watkins, Winnie Bowen, Adam Blatner, Jean Beall, Kay Cordi, Christine Smart, Bill Meehan, Hugh Winn, Bill Sawyer, Howard Parsonage, Jim Brown, Whitey Stephenson, Bill Rives, Ulie Alt, David Battershell, and Claude Proctor.
June 1998 Board of Directors
In June 1998, the following individuals served on Senior University’s board of directors:
Jack Kelly, President; Adam Blatner, Vice President; Christine Smart, Secretary; Winnie Bowen, Treasurer; Linda Watkins, Director of Programs; Kay Cordi, Registrar; Claude Proctor, Logo, Slogan; Hugh Winn, Chair Budget Committee; Ulie Alt.
Board of Directors, 1999
Gaz Green, President; Vic Figurelli, Vice-President; Winnie Bowen; Adam Blatner; Linda Watkins; Jo Roller; Claude Proctor; Shirley Sterling; Hugh Winn; Kay Cordi Submitted by Dr. Linda Watkins
Past Presidents of Senior University
Thank you to the following individuals who have served as president of our organization:
- Jack Kelly (deceased), Founding Board Member, 1998
- Gaz Green (deceased), 1999, 2000, 2001
- Vic Figurelli, 2002, 2003, 2004
- Bill Glass (deceased), 2005
- Bob Horick, 2006
- Stephen Benold, 2007
- Dwight Henn, 2008
- Mary K. Pierson, 2009, 2010
- Gwen Hauk, 2011, 2012
- Jerry Hobbs, 2013, 2014
- Paul Swetland, 2016, 2017
- Vic Figurelli, 2015, 2018