KU News Release

March 10, 2011
Contact: Jessica Beeson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 785-864-1767

Mini College registration open now to all lifelong learners

LAWRENCE — Without the pressure of tests or degrees, a “summer camp for adults” at the University of Kansas has inspired participants to pursue interests they may not have otherwise.

After attending this summer camp, officially known as Mini College, one couple redesigned their backyard to attract monarch butterflies. Another participant became a docent at an art museum and yet another released a new CD.

Mini College, a week-long program developed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been providing lifelong learners the opportunity to rediscover the student experience since summer 2009. More than 125 participants attended in each of the first two years.

This summer, from June 6-9, Mini College promises to offer just as many opportunities to discover new passions. Among the many options this year are arts and dance, natural and biological sciences, literature and health. Mini College is open to any interested adult, not just KU alumni.

Registration is open now at www.minicollege.ku.edu, where information is included about courses and activities offered during the week. For a $225 registration fee, Mini Collegians are treated to a week of lectures delivered by top KU professors, exclusive extracurricular activities and tours and social events. For the full college experience, participants can even stay in student housing.

A Jayhawk convert

Lynn Russell attended the first Mini College in summer 2009. A Hawkeye and a Tar Heel in a family of Jayhawks, she saw Mini College as an opportunity to see for herself the “mystique of Mount Oread.”

“We had just moved to Lawrence in the spring of ’09,” Russell said. “My husband, sister-in-law, niece and nephew had all attended KU or were attending. I went to the University of Iowa and worked for the University of North Carolina for several years. Two of our three sons had attended UNC. Needless to say, I took a lot of grief.”

Russell was drawn to the art offerings at Mini College. In her nursing and science training, she had always been interested in art but never had the time to fit it in her schedule.

She spent much of her week in classes at the Spencer Museum of Art. She was so inspired that she became a docent at the museum and has taken three art and art history classes at KU. She also returned for Mini College in 2010 with her husband and plans to attend this summer.

“I have found a new life through my experience with Mini College and learned to appreciate KU and all it offers its students and the greater Lawrence community,” she said.

Learning never ends

Shirley Andrews is no stranger to lifelong learning. After several years away from college, she came to KU in 1996 to pursue a master’s degree in religious studies. So when she saw an article about Mini College in the Collegian, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences magazine, she couldn’t resist the opportunity for her and her husband, Bill, to explore new topics.

After attending in 2009 and 2010, Shirley and Bill Andrews have been surprised at how many new interests they have discovered.

“Flamenco had never, ever ‘called’ to me before,” said Shirley Andrews. “But I had great fun learning the methods and rhythms. The ‘talking and cell phones’ discussion was way more interesting than I expected. I don’t talk and drive anymore.”

One of the sessions they attended, about KU’s Monarch Watch program, has even resulted in a major change at their home. When they returned to Salina, they hired a local planner to draw up plans to develop their backyard with a monarch way station so Bill Andrews could apply what he learned during Mini College.

The couple have already registered for this year’s Mini College and plan to stay at their favorite bed and breakfast, the Halcyon House.

“I still talk about Mini College to everyone who is interested,” Shirley Andrews said. “It enriches us more than we can say.”

Newfound inspiration

Steve Parke had been working on an album of songs he had written and performed before he signed up for Mini College in 2009. Although the process of finishing a CD was exciting, it was also challenging and frustrating.

“I was beginning to ask, ‘Would we or should we even finish?’ ” Parke said.

So, Parke came to Mini College and took a series of classes taught by KU faculty who had created feature-length films. In listening to the filmmakers discuss all the years of work they invested to create their projects, Parke felt renewed energy to complete his CD.

The CD has brought not only personal satisfaction to Parke but some celebrity as well. After sending his completed album, “Seasons,” to the Mini College staff, he was invited to perform at the graduation party in 2010.

The film classes also strengthened his desire to tell more stories of Kansas in his music.

“After graduating from high school and leaving western Kansas a number of years ago, most of my adult life has been lived in states other than Kansas,” he said. “Yet over the years, many return trips to Kansas have increased my appreciation of the people, place and history. Spending time at Mini College has added to this appreciation as well as built a newfound respect for the University of Kansas as a place of education and culture.”

The “Mini College Troubadour” plans to return for Mini College 2011.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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