FEBRUARY 8, 2018 – Remember those special college professors whose lectures kept you wide awake and wanting to hear more? The ones you wished could be cloned?
Steven Schragis, a Tufts University graduate, came up with something almost as good when he founded One Day University in 2006. By canvassing campuses and talking to students, he finds the most popular educators and then works closely with them to develop engaging talks that inform and inspire their adult students for a day.
Schagris, who grew up in a Reform Jewish family in Westchester, N.Y., hatched the idea when he took his daughter to college 10 years ago.
“The school had arranged for about a dozen professors to give short, interesting lectures about what they teach,” he recalls. “The parents [like my wife and I] loved it, and I thought, ‘I wish I was the one going to college. I miss it! I wish I didn’t have to drive home and go back to an office.’” And so One Day University was born.
ODU now hosts 80 to 100 live events across the country each year. Schagris is not surprised that his programs particularly appeal to Jewish communities.
“ODU puts an emphasis on the concept that learning for the sake of learning is always a good thing, throughout your entire life,” he says. “Jews celebrate learning. You can never study or learn too much. Not all cultures are focused that way.”
While ODU is interesting, it is also fun. “That is the dual purpose. People attend for the same reasons they go to a Broadway show or visit a museum,” Schagris says.
Instead of watching a webinar or DVD, “the electricity and excitement of seeing professors live – with a room full of other people – is entirely different,” says Schagris. “It is 10 times more fun! Anyone who has been to live theater, a live symphony or opera, or a live concert knows what I mean!”
Most events are on college campuses. In an exciting initiative, Pingree School in South Hamilton will host a One Day University on Saturday, April 28. “I am thrilled to be the first secondary school in the country to be hosting One Day University,” says Pingree Head of School Tim Johnson.
The program at Pingree will include Catherine Sanderson, chair of the Psychology Department at Amherst College, who will discuss “Positive Psychology and the Science of Happiness;” Edward T. O’Donnell, professor of history at Holy Cross, who will present “Three Turning Points that Changed American History;” and Dr. Thomas Burke, professor at Harvard Medical School, who will discuss “Medical Innovations: Can America Save the World?”
“Psychology and history are our two most popular subjects,” says Schagris, “and the two professors teaching these subjects are two of our best – absolute superstars – I promise! The medical professor is new … and we’ve heard great things about him! And, he’s a Pingree graduate!”
All adults are invited to attend the April 28 event. Journal readers can receive a reduced rate of $99 by using the code “Pingree” when they buy tickets at www.onedayu.com. Others pay $149.