Three OLLI at UNT instructors honored for teaching, service during Faculty Appreciation Dinner

As a catalyst for creativity, UNT has a reputation for attracting passionate educators at the top of their game. Teaching for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNT allows them to immerse themselves in the subjects they love with lifelong learners looking for new adventures. Since 2016, the program has offered non-credit learning experiences for adults 50 and better.

From left: Provost McPherson, Annette Becker,
Laura Evans, Max Morley and President Smatresk.
(Photo by Patrick Parson)

OLLI at UNT hosted its annual Faculty Appreciation Dinner Thursday, March 28, at Robson Ranch, led by senior director Stephanie Reinke and featuring special guests UNT President Neal Smatresk, Provost Michael McPherson and author Jean Greenlaw, an OLLI at UNT member and instructor and a Regents Professor Emeritus of the UNT College of Education.

During the event, McPherson presented the Provost’s OLLI at UNT Faculty Award to three instructors who went above and beyond in their teaching and service to OLLI at UNT during the past year:

  • Max Morley (’65 B.M., ’67 M.M., ’79 D.M.A.)
  • Laura EvansDistinguished Teaching Professor of Art Education
  • Annette Becker (’15 M.A.), Curator and Director of the UNT CVAD Texas Fashion Collection

The honor includes a $500 award and commemorative gift.

“At its heart, OLLI at UNT is about celebrating the joy of being a lifelong learner,” McPherson says. “OLLI instructors spark that joy with enthusiasm, but also with a considerable investment of their time, resources and expertise. They come from all backgrounds — academia, industry and the arts — and each brings a unique perspective that creates unforgettable learning experiences for our OLLI members. I am deeply grateful for their commitment to helping OLLI at UNT continue to grow, evolve and transform lives throughout the North Texas region.”

Max Morley

Morley accepting the Provost's OLLI at UNT Faculty Award
Photo by Patrick Parson

Before he became an OLLI at UNT mainstay, Max Morley (’65 B.M., ’67 M.M., ’79 D.M.A.) had a successful career pursuing the two things he loves most: music and teaching. He was a junior high school band director, a college studio trumpet professor, a university performing arts series presenter and a college music history professor before retiring in 2009 after 39 years at Stephen F. Austin State University.

An alum of UNT’s College of Music, Morley returned to Denton in 2012 and began teaching at UNT’s Emeritus College, which became OLLI at UNT in 2016. His OLLI catalog includes classes on the American musical, classical music in American culture, specific composers and movements, and much more. His Music at the Movies series is so popular that when he welcomes a new cohort and asks how many members have taken the course before, half the hands in the room go up. He’s taught at all eight satellite classroom locations, sharing signature presentations that feature audio clips, video clips and detailed animated slides.

Morley teaching in the Keller Senior Activities CenterWhen it comes to championing OLLI at UNT, Morley is unmatched. In addition to serving on the OLLI Advisory Council — including terms as secretary and president — he has promoted OLLI by speaking in the community and arranging for presentations at the Rotary Club.

“I am three times blessed because I love to teach, I love my subject matter, and I find that my students also love my subject matter in music history,” Morley says. “Now I am blessed yet again with this award. OLLI at UNT is giving me an award for doing what I love to do! I am honored and very happy to receive this award.”

Pictured: Morley teaching Music at the Movies in the Keller Senior Activities Center. (Photo by Donna Zelisko-McLaughlin)

Laura Evans

Distinguished Teaching Professor of Art Education
Director, Art Museum Education Certificate Program

Provost McPherson and Laura Evans pose with award
Photo by Patrick Parson

It’s easy to see what makes Laura Evans’ courses so popular with OLLI members — and it’s more than the fact that they focus on the often-salacious world of art crime. Evans is known for her ability to craft stories of thefts, forgeries and vandalism that make her audience feel like they’re at the scene of the crime and getting an inside look at the personal lives of famous artists, collectors and curators.

She has collaborated with OLLI and the Collette travel agency to create two first-of-their-kind international trips: 2022’s Treasures and Thieves: Tracing Art Crimes through the Great Museums of Europe, and Art Crime in Italy and Malta: Arte Rubata e Arte Salvata (The Stolen and the Saved), which will take place in May 2024. 

Laura Evans giving a lecture during the Treasures and Thieves tripThese international trips pair Evans’ art crime lectures with visits to the museums and other locations where the crimes were committed, allowing OLLI members to see famous works of art in a new light knowing the stories behind their thefts or forgeries. Evans’ OLLI travels also inspired her forthcoming book, The Atlas of Art Crime, which will be published this fall.

“I relish getting to dive into an art crime and to spin a story for OLLI learners, but my favorite things about being a part of OLLI at UNT are the people,” Evans says. “Stephanie Reinke and her team are encouraging, supportive, generous and caring. And, of course, the students are gifts. They are curious, fun and bright — and they laugh at my (bad) jokes. For all of this, I am immensely grateful. Having these sorts of lifelong learning programs is vital to our communities. I want to be an OLLI student when I grow up!”

Pictured: Laura Evans giving a lecture during the Treasures and Thieves trip. (Photo by Ron Reinke)

Annette Becker

Curator and Director, UNT CVAD Texas Fashion Collection

Provost McPherson and Annette Becker pose with award
Photo by Patrick Parson

Since joining the staff of the Texas Fashion Collection in 2016, Annette Becker (’15 M.A.) has been instrumental to growing the collection and expanding its reach, impact and accessibility.

In addition to giving more traditional OLLI lectures on 19th and 20th century fashion and material culture, Becker creates unique educational opportunities for OLLI members to interact with the Texas Fashion Collection. Recent examples include presentations on the TFC’s digitization process, an inside look at how staff protect the collection from potential disasters and an interactive exploration of the stories told by some of the accessories in the collection. She often works to incorporate student presentations into OLLI events, creating intergenerational learning experiences that connect OLLI members directly to the research being conducted by UNT students.

Annette Becker with student staffers and an intern, part of an OLLI visit to the TFC this spring where they spoke about some of their favorite items in the collection. (Photo credit: Jordan Williams)

Becker’s connection to OLLI extends beyond UNT. She proposed a collaboration with OLLI at Oklahoma State University that brought their members to UNT’s campus for a behind-the-scenes look at the 2022 exhibit, “Delight: Selections from the Texas Fashion Collection.” Members of the two OLLI programs were able to meet one another over dinner and view the exhibition together, enjoying presentations by students who had done research into each of the pieces in the exhibition.

Annette Becker with student staffers and an intern, part of an OLLI visit to the TFC“I am grateful to the provost for recognizing contributions to OLLI as an essential part of our work at UNT,” Becker says. “OLLI at UNT creates a broader sense of community for our university and offers meaningful opportunities for UNT researchers to be thought leaders for our region.

“OLLI members are thoughtful and inquisitive learners who engage with the deep content of college-level courses and university-level research. Their perspectives and questions often gently challenge my research, and through their feedback I become a better facilitator of student research at UNT.”

Pictured: Annette Becker with student staffers and an intern, part of an OLLI visit to the TFC this spring where they spoke about some of their favorite items in the collection. (Photo by Jordan Williams)

Teach for OLLI at UNT!

OLLI at UNT will be accepting Fall 2024 course proposals starting Monday, April 22.

Anyone with subject matter expertise and a passion for sharing their knowledge can make their mark as an OLLI instructor, from current and retired UNT faculty and staff to industry professionals. Watch the video below to hear from real instructors what makes teaching for OLLI at UNT such a rewarding experience.