Award-winning news reporter and author Mark Arax will kick off the third season of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute programs (OLLI) at California State University, Fresno at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 22.

Fresno State’s OLLI is a grant-funded program for adults 50 and older designed to provide learning opportunities in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Members can attend eight programs this fall including speakers, tours and a holiday social.

With the exception of the Aug. 22 lecture, all OLLI activities are limited to members.

New this year are associate memberships and six short courses in small-group settings, providing the opportunity for more interaction with the instructors and fellow students.

Arax will discuss “The Last Valley: The Paradox at the Heart of California” in Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union. His lecture is open to the public for a $10 fee (payable at the door). OLLI members attend for free.

Arax, a graduate of Fresno State, has been nominated six times for the Pulitzer Prize and is a recipient of most of the major writing awards in journalism. He recently ended his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Times to write books full time and teach essay writing to high school and college students.

His second book, “The King of California,” won a 2004 California Book Award and the 2005 William Saroyan International Writing Prize.

The other OLLI sessions are:

Jane E. Yow – “Generations and Values: A New World” (Sept. 6)

Michael J. Moratto, Ph.D. – “Grizzlies vs. Humans in California” (Sept. 24)

L-Jay Fine, Ph.D. – “Persistence: The Secret to Learning Success” (Oct. 10)

James S. Kus, Ph.D. – “What’s New at Machu Picchu” (Oct. 22)

Ronald H. Markarian, Major General (CA Ret) – “George Washington and His Impact on the Foundation of America” (Nov. 8)

Tour of the Legion of Valor Museum in Fresno (Nov. 15)

Holiday social at the Fresno Art Museum (Dec. 10)

OLLI general memberships are $55 per person or $90 per couple. There are additional fees for short courses and field trips.

A new associate membership is $15 per person, which includes any two general sessions and the option to sign up for short courses and field trips (additional costs apply).

Parking and other on-campus privileges are included in the general and associate memberships.

Osher director Shirley Bruegman noted that the new associate memberships and short courses were created in response to member requests.

“We found that our OLLI members are enthusiastic learners who wanted to explore some topics more thoroughly than what was possible in a single lecture,” Bruegman said. “So this fall we have recruited experts to teach short courses on art history, earthquakes, Islam, Greece, John Steinbeck, Presidential politics, and the republic of Iran.”

The short courses meet once a week for three to six weeks.

Field trips for the fall include visits to the Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Castle Air Museum in Merced and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Bruegman also will escort a travel study group to Greece in May 2008.

Membership information is available by calling the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at 559.278.0008 or e-mailing