Pace University's lifelong learning program started in the early 1970s, created by a staffer who believed that older New Yorkers should have access to academic and intellectual stimulation. The program's original title was Pace Adult Resource Center, but, says program director Joy Yagman, "over the years it morphed" into what is now PARC - Pace's Active Retirement Community.
Yagman says that in the program's earliest days, the membership was robust, with more than 200 participants for a "Lunch and Learn" series (now called "Coffee and Culture Lectures") where seniors could hear faculty members speak.
"After 9/11, everything went belly-up," says Yagman, referring to Pace's downtown location. "We lost a lot of members." But in the past six years, "it's come back to life, so to speak." There were 39 members when Yagman became program director three years ago, and that number has risen to 70 to 75 participants now.
"The program is getting to be more well-known," says Yagman. "It's a real potpourri of different lectures," most taught by Pace faculty.
Yagman notes that the age of the PARC members has dropped over the years. "Many of the members before were in their 70's and 80's," she said, "but now it's more of a mix. There are people in their late 50's and early 60's - some still work."
Participants have access to more than lectures: they can use the Pace library and computer lab, and have access to the campus art gallery and intergenerational technology assistance. "Some members want to be among college students," Yagman says. "Some people just use the library."
PARC draws members from all five boroughs of NYC, and Yagman says there are participants from New Jersey and Nassau County.
The Spring Coffee and Culture Lectures begin on Feb. 25. For more information or to register for PARC membership:
1-888-561-7223 or 212-346-1244