UNCG kicks off partnership with Well•Spring

reposted from UNCG Now

Suffice it to say this was no ordinary college fair.

Prospective students enjoyed wine and cheese to the sounds of a live cellist as they strolled from table to table checking out the offerings at UNCG. The event took place in an elegant setting at Well•Spring Retirement Community in Greensboro. And the guests? All were senior citizens.

The gathering on Monday marked the beginning of a groundbreaking relationship that leaders of the partner institutions believe will benefit members of both Well•Spring and UNCG by bringing together talented and experienced adults and a vibrant, academic community.

“This has been a dream of mine since I came to Well•Spring nearly 14 years ago,” President and CEO Stephen Fleming told the large crowd. “The whole point of this is we do not stop living. Aging is not dying – it is living.”

Beginning this semester, residents of Well•Spring will have the opportunity to attend on-campus lectures, concerts, recitals, athletic events and other activities as well as enroll in or audit classes. In turn, they may serve as mentors or volunteers for student and community activities, sharing their business expertise and life experiences with UNCG students.

Chancellor Linda P. Brady called the kick-off “an historic day” for the university.

“We have never entered into this kind of relationship before. This is a mutual partnership of mutual benefit,” Brady said. “You have rich experiences that our students can learn from. I believe we will learn as much from you as you will learn from us.”

Bettie Williams, a 19-year resident of Well•Spring with strong ties to UNCG, listened intently from the audience. “I’m just an old home economics graduate,” the 1941 alum of Woman’s College said, adding that her mother was a professor at the school as well.

“I am really impressed,” she said, flipping through a catalog of the offerings. “It’s not just a vague idea anymore. We have dates, we have times, we have places.”

Well•Spring residents Hayes and Clem Clement also are excited about the partnership.

“I’ve been waiting for this relationship,” Clem Clement said. “I’ve audited courses at UNCG and at Guilford College and I’m looking forward to this.”

Nancy Bucknall, the director of advising for UNCG’s College of Arts and Sciences, was among the faculty and staff who manned tables and answered residents’ questions.

“UNCG is already a very diverse campus, but this will make it even more so by their life experience,” she said. “The Well•Spring residents will enrich our students’ view of the world.”

Fleming and Brady said both Well•Spring and UNCG are committed to community engagement and service to older adults.

“This partnership seems to make perfect sense,” Brady said. “I can think of no better place for us to be than Well•Spring. It is a community that believes aging is living, a community that believes we have the freedom as we age to explore.”

Fleming, who forged a similar partnership with Dartmouth College when he worked at a retirement community in New Hampshire, described Well•Spring as “a living, learning lab of positive aging.”

“You are taking the steps to be proactive in aging well,” he said. “We hope UNCG students will learn from that.”

Well•Spring has hired UNCG graduate Garrett Saake to be director of the program. Saake, who has offices at the university and the retirement community, said that Well•Spring residents will enjoy special seating at concerts and other events.

“For athletic events at the Coliseum, we have worked out an arrangement where we can drive our residents right to the door and there will be student athletes waiting to offer them an arm to walk in,” he said.

Story by Betsi Robinson
Photo by Chris English, University Relations
Caption: David Holley, director of opera at UNCG, chats with Well•Spring residents at the college fair on Monday.