Remembering Michael Williams

Sunrise: March 22, 1946 – Sunset: December 13, 2020

We are saddened to share that our dear friend Michael Williams passed away in December of 2020.

The story of Mike Williams’ long career and service at UCLA is one of friendship, inspiration, work ethic, support of athletics, and enrichment of the UCLA Extension work experience. Everybody knew Mike. His presence was large at UCLA just like his heart. Mike always offered kindness, friendship, camaraderie, and passion.

Sometimes you would see him at Stan’s Donuts before work. You might bump into him in the hallway of the Extension building. He became an iconic member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a daily presence in the lounge, in the hallways of the UCLA Extension building, and in OLLI courses.

From participating in class discussions to spontaneously providing expert IT/AV support services if needed, he found joy both as a student and instructor in the program. It was not unusual to see him share a meal with Osher colleagues or former UCLA Extension workmates who continued to seek out his company. Mike touched us all at UCLA.

His time at UCLA Extension spanned decades – from the sixties to the present. He not only touched UCLA Extension, but he also reached thousands at athletic events when, as a volunteer, he provided countless years of support for John Wooden at Bruin basketball games. From employee to retiree, Mike continued to touch colleagues and friends.

He was admired for his dedication and care for his family and community. His honesty and frankness were exemplary and an inspiration. He was always giving back and his heart guided him to help others.

It is not often we get to experience such a dedicated and inspirational colleague and we are humbled that he was part of our UCLA family.

The OLLI at UCLA scholarship program, which was launched in summer 2019, has been renamed The Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund. Help us reach new audiences and increase our program’s diversity. We encourage you to share this scholarship opportunity with those who are not familiar with OLLI or with those who have been unable to participate due to financial limitations. To contribute to the Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund, click here.



Two years ago, Mike asked me to create and develop a Black cinema course with him. I hesitated because I had little knowledge about that particular area of film, but he persuaded me, and thus began a partnership. For two years – and two courses – we crafted a cinema series for Black History month that sought to educate Osher members about important African-American films and their impact on and relevance to U.S. society. Mike enthusiastically recruited students for the courses and provided the class with unique insights to each of the movies viewed. He brought richness and depth to the courses, and I will miss working with him. – Maria Siciliano, OLLI Instructor


Mike Williams was a gentle-man. A kind, caring individual who possessed extraordinary “people-skills” that made him a treasure to know. After he completed military service, he found his way to UCLA. He became a full-time employee of the Audio-Visual department. He had not had the opportunity or the resources to go to college but he found much of what he was looking for at UCLA. He consumed class after class either as a student or later as a volunteer providing support and guidance to (often challenged) Extension instructors – like myself – operating A-V equipment and later dealing with The Land of Zoom. It was in this Godfather role that I first met Mike. He had the patience of Job quietly and always calmly moving me slowly along the path of basic technical competence. My courses in Extension cover Jazz Appreciation and History…a subject that Mike loved and led to a number of concert events and dinners shared with his wife Armerilyn and daughter, Jamie. Being able to call Mike a friend was special… very special. Call it Mike’s good karma or just my extremely good fortune. He deserves to be remembered. – Pat Collins, OLLI Instructor


There were so many times in my classes–many of which he audited–he’d save the day either through by fixing technical malfunctions of tired equipment, or my technical ineptitude, not to mention his sweet, kind congeniality, his enthusiastic, up-beat enthusiasm about OLLI and UCLA generally, and his readiness to help. – Carlo Coppola, OLLI Instructor


OLLI Instructor Beverly Olevin Writes Play for Zoom

OLLI Instructor Beverly Olevin Writes Play for Zoom

Live theater has gone quiet since the beginning of the pandemic. For now, audiences cannot sit together and enjoy the unique intimate experience that theater offers. Beverly Olevin, a playwright and theatrical director, who has been teaching The Play’s The Thing for OLLI @ UCLA for 15 years, has been challenged to bring the world of theater to Osher members via Zoom. Prior to the pandemic, she brought professional actors into the classroom to perform scenes. To see what could be done to engage an audience virtually, Beverly wrote a ten-minute play designed for Zoom. Take a look!

Marc and Beverly Olevin on Zoom

Beverly and Marc Olevin are honored to be be instructors for the OLLI program. Beverly’s area of expertise is theater and the arts, while Marc’s expertise is the history of science. Though their fields are different, they have a shared desire to present stimulating ideas that inspire reflection and interesting conversation. This coming winter 2021, Beverly will teach The Plays the Thing, featuring local actors doing live performances on Zoom as well as filmed versions of stage productions. Marc will teach Evolution of Science, Part 3.

OLLI Instructor Roy Meals Publishes Book on Bones

Orthopedic surgeon, Roy A. Meals, is an OLLI instructor who teaches the annual course, All About Bone. Early in his career, he developed a deep respect for human bone, especially for “its amazing constitution and the way it grows and heals.” So when he proposed his OLLI course in June 2017, he said teaching about bone would be a way to help him write a book about bone, a project he said he had been drafting in his head for more than 40 years.

We are happy to announce that his long-awaited book, Bones: Inside and Out, will be published this October. The book, like his course, details bone maladies and treatments as well as the second life of bones and how paleontologists, archaeologists, and anthropologists use bone to interpret Earth’s history.

In the book’s first section, Bone Concealed, Dr. Meals demystifies how bones grow, break, and heal and compares the particulars of human bone to variations throughout the animal kingdom. He illustrates common bone diseases, like osteoporosis and arthritis, and their treatments. Along the way, he highlights the medical innovations—from the first X-rays to advanced operative techniques—that enhance our lives and introduces the giants of orthopedic surgery who developed them.

In the book’s second section, Bone Revealed, he describes how bone influences paleontology, anthropology, religion, art, and popular culture. Examples range from Adam’s rib to Hamlet’s skull, and he uncovers their enduring presence as fossils, technological tools, and musical instruments ranging from the Tibetan thighbone kangling trumpet to everyday drumsticks.

Dr. Meals confirmed that writing his book while preparing his course helped him look at the organization and content of both from different perspectives:

For instance, the two forms differ in length and supplemental images. I found that working on one improved the logic and clarity of the other. The OLLI members’ questions and insights were particularly helpful in those regards. Most importantly, finishing the book became much easier after teaching the OLLI course because I had that audience in mind as I mentally continued our conversation.

I asked Dr. Meals what inspired him to research and write about the second life of bones. He said his inspiration began at an early age while growing up in Shawnee Mission, Kansas:

While on grade school and Cub Scout trips to the nearby Methodist Indian mission, I learned about the culture of the Plains Indians and saw how they repurposed bone for hunting, plant propagation, food preparation, adornment, and entertainment. In recent years, I have thoroughly enjoyed renewing and intensifying my interest in indigenous cultures and understanding their novel and myriad ways of crafting bone.

Remarkable discoveries have turned up not only at anthropology and natural history museums but also in public and private collections including those devoted to musical instruments, medicine, fine art, and the whaling industry. For example, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum has a collection of exquisitely crafted, highly detailed ship models that French prisoners made from soup bones during the Napoleonic Wars. As a result of so many serendipitous finds, I have become a museum fanatic. I try to visit as many as I can wherever I go, and it is rare that I cannot not find something of interest related to bones. I guess that should not surprise me since bone is so durable and ubiquitous. Nonetheless, I’m always excited to add facts to my collection.

Bones: Inside and Out launches October 20, 2020 and is available at these stores:


Mary Ann Wilson, Program Coordinator

Osher Members Try their Hand at Writing a Libretto

For those who are not opera aficionados, an opera’s words are called its libretto. Osher instructor Gordon Williams is not only a writer and speaker on music, but an opera librettist. He wrote the libretto for Journey to Horseshoe Bend, a dramatic-cantata composed by Andrew Schultz and presented at Sydney Opera House by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2003. He also devised new dialogue for the Sydney Symphony’s first performance in 160 years of Don John of Austria, and produced Darwin Theatre Group’s ensemble-piece Dust-Off Vietnam, for which he was also a playwright and actor.

Gordon wanted to facilitate a discussion group that would reveal how librettos help a composer composes. So in the spring of 2020, he taught the course, The Libretto: The Unsung Hero of Opera. His students examined Salvadore Cammarano’s libretto for Lucia di Lammermoor, Piave’s libretto for Rigoletto, as well as Illica and Giacosa’s libretti for La Boheme and Tosca. They also looked at operas derived from preexisting plays, such as Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, as well as the instructor’s libretto for Journey to Horseshoe Bend, which was derived from a novel.

But the real treat for his students was the opportunity to create their own libretto from current events. One student, Audrey Kopp, wrote text expressing frustration that comes with social distancing and the strange times we’re living in currently. When listening to the piece, you’ll notice that it has a Bach-like sound. According to Mr. Williams, this decision was inspired by a suggestion that a fellow student made that the coronavirus opera use some of Bach’s music.

Gordon’s hope was that “class members would gain an understanding of the libretto of an opera as being much more important than people realize; that they’d see the extent to which it’s an engine. So, I figured that rather than just examining how Piave or Boito worked with Verdi or Hofmannsthal with Strauss, the class could write a libretto.”

We’ve included “No more living in fear” for you to enjoy.


2020 Election Preview Podcast

Bob Stern with guest speaker, Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, The 2020 Election Preview: From Presidential Candidates to California’s Ballot Measure Elections, led by Robert Stern, JD, former President of the Center for Governmental Studies, explores the impact of the upcoming 2020 election cycle.

With the California primary date moved from June to March—on Super Tuesday, March 3, California now gets a slice of early-state action. The course delves into the fast-approaching 2020 California March primary as well as the November 2020 election choices.

Listen to the six podcasts featuring guests speakers from politics, media, public interest, as they share their insights on the upcoming 2020 election –

Week One: Kathay Feng, Common Cause National Redistricting Director

Week Two: Alex Padilla, CA Secretary of State

Week Three: Rober Naylor, former CA Republican Legislative Leader

Week Four: Conan Nolan, political reporter for over 30 years with NBC4 News

Week Five: Barry Fadem is President of National Popular Vote and a member of the Board of Directors.

Shakari Byerly is a Partner and Principal Researcher at EVITARUS a public opinion research organization

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks to OLLI class

Secretary Alex Padilla and Instructor Bob Stern

Students of Bob Stern’s course, 2020 Election Preview: From Presidential Candidates to California’s Ballot Measure Elections, were treated to a special guest on Thursday, October 3. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, spoke about about the new voting system in Los Angeles, election security, registering voters, as well as preparations for the upcoming census. You can hear the talk on our podcast here.

The event was covered by the Daily Bruin. Here’s their article:

Alex Padilla speaks at event about increasing voter participation in 2020 election

By Genesis Qu

The California secretary of state said his office is working on increasing voter participation and enforcing voter security at a university event Thursday.

Alex Padilla spoke at an event for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on Thursday about the upcoming 2020 elections. As secretary of state, Padilla is responsible for organizing and coordinating California elections. He said election security has been put under a particular spotlight after the 2016 election.

“When I was first running for secretary, there were many questions about ‘what are you going to do to get more people to register to vote or to encourage people to vote,’ (and) very few questions were about the election cybersecurity, no questions about potential foreign interference in our elections,” Padilla said. “But then 2016 happened, and now our way of looking at things has fundamentally changed.”

Major concerns were raised in regards to the potential of voter fraud and voter suppression, said Robert Stern, the host of the event and the former president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies.

A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California divides critics of the electoral process into two main camps, one concerned with voter suppression and one concerned with voter fraud, Stern said.

“Fifty-four percent are very or somewhat concerned that it is too easy for ineligible voters to vote in California elections,” Stern said. “Forty-five percent are very and somewhat concerned that it is too hard for eligible voters to vote.”

However, Padilla said voter fraud has proven to be rare by documentations and research.

“There’s been reports, there’s been studies, there’s been commissions, there’s data out there,” Padilla said. “(Voter fraud) is exceedingly, exceedingly rare.”

Unlike voter fraud, voter suppression has been quantified and demonstrated in various states, Padilla said. Through the false pretext of preventing voter fraud, lawmakers are disenfranchising eligible voters, particularly voters from low-income communities and communities of color.

Carl Singerman, a student at OLLI, said he came to the event because he wanted to understand more about issues surrounding the 2020 election and solutions to some of these challenges.

Singerman said he was most concerned about voter suppression because of its enormous consequences.

“It’s very scary to see how voter suppression is being implemented throughout the nation, and I wanted to hear what things are being done to counter that,” he said.

Padilla also addressed the issues of misinformation on social media and the undermining of election infrastructures.

He said state leaders are working on combating misinformation on social media and have established the “Vote Sure” program where people can report clearly wrong information on social media.

The California legislature also funded a Proactive Public Service Announcement campaign that promotes trusted, reliable sources of political information for voters, Padilla added.

To address the possibility of compromised election infrastructures, California has conducted agency-wide audits and has updated its servers and firewalls on its voting system. California has also led cybersecurity training in every county, Padilla said.

Beverly Sheldon, another student of OLLI, said she is most interested in voter participation in the coming election.

“I’m impressed with some of the changes that they are making to voter accessibility,” Sheldon said. “They are making voting more accessible to the population.”

As secretary of state, Padilla sponsored the California Voters’ Choice Act, which aims to make elections more secure and convenient for voters.

Under the Voters’ Choice Act, voters will automatically receive their ballot in the mail one month prior to election day, Padilla said. Voters will have options to either mail the ballot back or to drop it off at ballot boxes across the county at any given time in the weeks prior to the election.

New polling stations will have the entire county’s voter information instead of just the neighborhood, which means that voters will have access to every polling station in the county and are able to vote in the weeks leading up to the election, Padilla said.

“I think what Los Angeles county is trying to do is not just to ensure that we have as secure a voting system as possible but as user-friendly a voting system as possible,” Padilla said



OLLI Instructor Duncan Palamourdas Featured in Daily Bruin

Konstantinos “Duncan” Palamourdas in the OLLI Classroom (Joe Akira/Daily Bruin)


Duncan Palamourdas teaches poker and chess to small classes which always fill up early. He is known for his incredible energy and enthusiasm. We’re very proud that he was featured in the Daily Bruin, and that his book will be out in 2019.

Konstantinos “Duncan” Palamourdas in the OLLI Classroom (Joe Akira/Daily Bruin)Konstantinos “Duncan” Palamourdas uses a “John Wooden approach” when teaching poker strategy.

Palamourdas, a UCLA alumnus, wanted to share his distinct perspective on the game from an analytical and scientific standpoint, using math concepts to approach poker. But Palamourdas also emphasizes the fact that players should be themselves, rather than following a certain gameplay template, just as coach Wooden once did with Bruin basketball players, he said. He does this in his basic and intermediate poker classes at UCLA Extension.

His philosophy will soon be in print: Palamourdas said he is under contract to publish a book detailing his approach with D&B Publishing, which carries titles by some of professional poker’s biggest names, from Phil Hellmuth to Greg Raymer. Palamourdas’ book is in its editing phase and is expected to be released sometime in 2019.

“There’s what I like to call the objective approach, where literally people are trying to do what we call ‘solve the game.’ And by solve the game, we mean find the objectively best move that would work regardless of who you’re playing against,” Palamourdas said. “I’m more interested – believe it or not – in analyzing the game than playing (the game) itself.”

Palamourdas’ initial 2014 email inquiry to the UCLA Extension administration about teaching poker classes was met with stiff resistance, he said. However, he managed to secure a face-to-face meeting with Ric Zappala, current program director at UCLA Extension, with whom he made his case. In addition to the mathematical principles behind poker, Palamourdas said he pointed out professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management have already started a poker class; his would not be the first in a respected university. When Zappala understood that what he was teaching was fundamentally probability theory, he approved the class, Palamourdas said.

In addition to teaching a full quarter at UCLA Extension, Palamourdas teaches a six-week course to senior citizens at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a department of UCLA Extension specifically designed to serve adults 50 years or older. Phyllis Blaunstein, a retired public policy expert, decided to take Palamourdas’ class with some friends and said she appreciates his teaching style.

“He has a gift of turning incredibly complex mathematical concepts into simple and easy-to-understand ideas, and to convey them with humor to engage the class,” Blaunstein said.

Palamourdas describes the beginning of his class as being, for the most part, the same as any math class. Before class, he prepares a lecture on a single topic and uses PowerPoint slides, videos, visual aids and pictures to teach the lesson. After the lecture comes practical application – an hour or more of gameplay between students, with him providing live commentary on student moves within each game.

An issue that often arises with students is bet sizing, Palamourdas said. Students will often bet too little in an attempt to provoke their opponents to fold, but Palamourdas tries to emphasize to the students that they should bet a larger percentage of the money in the pot than they instinctively want to bet. If you don’t bet big, the opponent will never fold, and if they never fold, then you’re taking the skill out of the game, Palamourdas said.

“People are generally risk-averse. They don’t want to risk more than they have to,” Palamourdas said. “The problem is that there is a certain amount they should be risking in order to get the job done.”

Palamourdas characterizes the typical poker player as one of two archetypes: Alice or Bob, both names commonly used as placeholders in cryptology literature. The Bob player values fun over profit, making bets and moves based on intuition or a sense of excitement. Alice, on the other hand, is always playing to win. Alice values profit over fun. Over time, money will flow from Bob to Alice. However, Palamourdas said he reinforces the fact that either playing style is perfectly acceptable.

“One of the things that I stress in the book is that there is nothing wrong with either approach,” Palamourdas said. “It’s a game before anything else.”

John Southworth, a retired lawyer and student of Palamourdas, has been helping with the editing process. Southworth said this book is different from typical poker books in that it isn’t a recollection of “war stories” from tournaments past, nor is it an exemplary account of what to do when faced with particular hands during play. Instead, Southworth claims the book frames poker not as a game that changes based on who your opponent is, but rather as a game that can be won regardless of who you’re facing and what cards you are dealt.

“It’s truly a new approach to the game,” said Southworth. “It’s about beating the game, not other players.”

The popularity of Palamourdas’ classes at UCLA Extension has drawn attention from other parties around campus. Palamourdas said he is in conversation with representatives from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, who have shown serious interest in establishing a business-focused poker class at the school. Palamourdas said his view toward games has always been the same: treating the game like the science that it is, and recognizing that there is no one perfect way to play it.

“There is no such thing as a perfect truth when it comes to science … and that is incredibly important to remember,” Palamourdas said. “If anything, science has taught us humility. As does poker.”

Automation and Lifelong Learning

Dennis Mangrobang, CEO, Flexwest, LLC

By Dennis Mangrobang

I was fortunate to be able to present, “Robotics, Automation, and Our Changing Society,” as part of the Beyond the Headlines series at OLLI@UCLA.

Automation is changing our society in several ways. Driverless cars will cause our infrastructure to change (fewer roadway lanes, parking lots, etc.). Social robots will change our social interaction. Manufacturing will re-shore back to the USA, and become more localized worldwide. One of the most important changes occurring now is job loss caused by automation.

The day after the presentation, I asked Mary Ann Wilson, OLLI Program Coordinator, if she had received any feedback. She told me that one member told her that he thought the talk was going to be boring but it wasn’t. It was; however, depressing, just because a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. I appreciated receiving this feedback.

I believe the current trajectory of the impact of automation on employment and inequality is negative. For example, about 3% of all full-time U.S. jobs primarily involve driving (e.g. trucks, buses, taxis). Due to rapid advances in driverless vehicles, those jobs are at risk in the next few years. Just automating driving will create a big employment problem, considering that normal U.S. unemployment rates are around 5%, very high unemployment is around 10%, and the unemployment rate during the Great Depression peaked at around 25%. This is just the tip of the iceberg. However, I am also hopeful that we can steer this along a positive path, and I hope to better communicate this in my future presentations.

Automation will cause job loss. Should this be depressing or encouraging? It depends on how we handle the situation and how an individual values their job as part of their life.

If you or your friend won the lottery or were born into a wealthy family, would you be depressed about this? Probably not, at least not initially. With sufficient wealth, you could continue working in your current job or do something else. I believe most of us would do something else. The long-term outcome of your life would depend on what else you chose to do, but at least you would have more options, such as attending more OLLI courses.

The effect of losing your job because of automation could be like winning the lottery, or being born into a wealthy family.

The key to winning this automation lottery is capital ownership. If you own the robot that took your job, that is a good thing. If somebody else owns that robot, it is a bad thing for you. We should all own automation.

Unfortunately, most of us have limited ownership of automation through our stock market investments in companies that use automation. The majority of capital ownership is now concentrated within a small segment of our society, a situation called wealth inequality. With this current situation, automation is enabling inequality to grow, and at an increasing rate. More automation creates more job loss and more wealth concentration to the owners of capital.

What can be done? The solution that is most frequently proposed is universal basic income (UBI), which would tax the owners of automation, and redistribute this income to everyone. It depresses me that people, politicians in particular, think this is a practical way to address the problem. It could work in theory, but I am skeptical. The owners of capital will fight against this. They are the ones who wield political power and will shape this policy if implemented. If you cannot find a job, how likely is it that a program like this will provide what you need? Universal basic income would be better than doing nothing, but I think we can do better.

A better solution is to solve the root cause of the problem, which is capital ownership. We should transition the ownership of automation to a broader segment of our society. One way to accomplish this is though 100% employee-owned companies that are focused on developing and using automation.  Initially, your jobs at such a company would be the same as investor-owned companies, and with similar pay. However, the income derived from the deployment of capital would go to the employee/owners, and not passive investors. Employees could invest capital to join, or they could buy in though sweat equity. Employee ownership could have other significant benefits. Employee/owners would decide what the company policies should be. They could decide to not move the company to another country, not to pollute the ground water in their community, and not to award their CEO excessive compensation for implementing short-term policies that cause long-term harm. And, they could decide to voluntarily share the growing pool of capital with others, and how to wield the political power of their company.

My goal is to create a company like this, and I hope people will want to join or build other companies based on this concept. I encourage you to think about these issues and possible solutions, and take direct action.

Lifelong ownership of automation could be very positive, and enable more lifelong learning for people of all ages. OLLI power!

I have compiled a list of resources related to the presentation. Whether you attended or not, I hope you will find them useful. You may view these at:

All About Bone

By Roy Meals

I grew up in Kansas City and spent as much time as a could on my grandparents’ farm in central Missouri. There I saw the whole life cycle of bones from birth to butcher to table. I have always enjoyed being outside, and I am not sure whether that stimulated my interest in natural history or vice versa. Either way, my interests led me to major in biology at Rice University, where I gained a deep appreciation for the diversity and adaptations of animal life. During medical school at Vanderbilt University I had the opportunity to further explore the workings and failings of human tissues and was particularly attracted to bone. It appealed to my mechanical, three-dimensional way of thinking.

These inclinations led to an orthopedic surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where I had the opportunity to drill down, both literally and figuratively, on living bone. The residency was interrupted for two years by my military obligation, which I fulfilled as a general medical officer in Turkey. That experience, and the regional travel opportunities it allowed in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe put bones into an entirely new perspective for me—their historic and cultural implications. The ways that the Hittites and ancient Egyptians managed their dead brethren and the ways that various civilizations have used bone as implements, weapons, and ornamentation enhanced my interest in the unique composition and multiple purposes of bone.

After completing a hand surgery fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, I joined the orthopedic surgery faculty at UCLA, where my current title is Clinical Professor. My career in academic medicine has allowed me not only to manage many difficult bone abnormalities in the upper extremity, it has also provided the opportunity to write extensively on these topics. This includes many peer-reviewed journal articles and two books, One Hundred Orthopedic Conditions Every Doctor Should Understand and The Hand Owner’s Manual, A Hand Surgeon’s Thirty Year Collection of Important Information and Fascinating Facts. My interest in writing extends to improving the form and content of the works of others. I have been on the senior editorial board of the Journal of Hand Surgery for most of my career including a five-year term as Editor-in-Chief.

Travel continues to interest me, and visits to all of the inhabited continents and 48 states have provided study opportunities regarding my interest in bone. Museums devoted to natural history, archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, maritime history, and even fine art and musical instruments exhibit bones and bone artefacts and vouch for its durability and versatility. I have savoured each visit.

I now want to organize my observations and experiences with bone, and in a systematic way share my passion with others. Starting with a blog, and a five-part lecture series in the 2018 winter quarter at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ UCLA, my plan is to eventually turn the collected information into a book: Bone. Supporting Life, Capturing History.


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra drops in on OLLI Course

Attorney General Xavier Becerra with Instructor Bob Stern

Students of the OLLI course, The Trump Presidency: the Good, the Bad and the Unknown, were treated to an unexpected guest speaker on October 10: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The attorney general talked on the state of California’s response to the Trump Presidency — which has included filing suit against the federal government. Several notable cases have targeted the adminstration’s actions on immigration policy, including a suit against the proposed border wall; one challenging the rescinding of the DACA program for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors; and another seeking to block Trump’s policy of withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities.”

“Along the way, if someone wants to get in our way,” Becerra said, “I’m not going to pick a fight, but if someone wants to fight, like Donald Trump, we’ll be ready.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra taking questions

The 6-week course is taught by Bob Stern, who has been an observer and participant in elections for the past 40 years and has worked for Congressional campaigns and public officials, including Henry Waxman and Jerry Brown. He is frequently interviewed by news outlets, including MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, the Los Angeles Times and other papers throughout the country on election and campaign reform subjects.

At the Luskin Center on UCLA Campus

The class was also given a location upgrade to the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center, along with free parking and refreshments.

The Los Angeles Daily News covered the event, which you can read about here.

You can also hear it on our podcast, which you can find here.

The course runs from  September 28 – November 2. Other guest speakers include:

  • Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States
  • Bill Boyarsky, former Los Angeles Times editor and columnist
  • Jim Brulte, Chairman of the California Republican Party and former State Senator
  • Derek Shearer, former US Ambassador to Finland and Occidental College professor