In December 1973, then-OSU President Harold Enarson approached the Board of Trustees with an idea: allow Ohio residents aged 65 or older to attend classes at OSU for free. It actually wasn’t his idea – he had seen a similar program the year before at the University of Colorado – but he still considered it an “experiment.”
Enarson told the Lantern after the meeting that he thought the program would get off to “a very slow start,” but hoped that “no one will get discouraged.”
His expectations, to put it mildly, were surpassed. The program is still going strong and has hundreds enrolled each semester.
Then called Program 65, it began with winter quarter 1974 and was coordinated out of the Office of Continuing Education. It gave residents of Ohio 65 and older the ability to attend classes at the university free of charge. The first quarter brought in 67 men and women; by the next fall, 185 students had signed up for approximately 200 courses.
Ohio State’s Program 65 was such a success that the state legislature passed a bill in 1976 to require all state-supported colleges and universities to permit senior citizens aged 60 and older to attend classes on a non-tuition, space-available basis. OSU changed the name of the program to Program 60, and Enarson joked at the time that he was so proud of the program that on his next birthday – his 60th – he would quit his job, enroll in the program, and “haunt all of these faculty members.”
Filed by L.T.