The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary was formerly known as the Christopher Wren Association, founded by the late Wayne Kernodle from William & Mary and Ruth Kernodle from Christopher Newport University. The first classes were offered in January, 1991 following six months of preparation by a steering committee from William & Mary and the community. The enrollment the first semester was 105 and has increased significantly over the years. This growth has coincided with the increase of the population in Williamsburg and surrounding areas. In 2018, we became an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and in 2020 received a $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary is a department of the university.
The Osher Institute at W&M is supported by heavy volunteer engagement of members. With the exception of a small office staff, the instructors, leadership council, committees, class hosts, class assistants and office support are all volunteers.
Since Osher Institute at W&M inception, William & Mary has been very supportive, offering classroom space, office space, plus accounting support.