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Citizens of the world

Lifelong Learning Society keeps Devonshire ‘students’ in the know

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April 6th, 2017
Devonshire community members Nina and Ed Diamond prepare to leave for one of their classes at Florida  Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society.

Devonshire community members Nina and Ed Diamond prepare to leave for one of their classes at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society.

One of the boons of living at Devonshire at PGA National, Erickson Living’s community in Palm Beach Gardens, is its proximity to Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Jupiter campus and the courses offered through its Lifelong Learning Society program.

Devonshire community members are well educated, well read, and well informed on topics ranging from politics and world affairs to art, music, and literature, so the Society’s programs appeal to them. 

FAU offers one-shot lectures and ongoing courses in all of those categories, plus even more. The Lifelong Learning Society was launched at the FAU’s Boca Raton campus in 1980 and at Jupiter in 1997 (one of the first programs like this in the nation).

Devonshire community members Aaron and Joan Kurtzman, who moved across the street to Devonshire from Eagleton Cove in PGA National, have been taking courses at the Jupiter campus for about 15 years now. “We appreciate that we’re so close to the FAU courses,” says Aaron. “We started because we wanted to learn something, and we still want to learn.”

Like many attendees, the Kurtzmans rank lectures from FAU professor and foreign policy expert Dr. Jeffrey Morton as their favorites. “There’s no question he knows what he’s talking about,” Aaron says. 

When Morton presents at Devonshire as part of the community’s annual lecture series, “We wouldn’t miss it,” Aaron adds. Because the lectures are held in the Stratford Performing Arts Center in Devonshire’s clubhouse, members simply walk down climate-controlled hallways to attend.

Taking courses at FAU can be equally simple. Residents who use Devonshire’s complimentary club car transportation enjoy to-the-door convenience delivered by one of Devonshire’s professional drivers. 

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Sol and Una Ellman are among those riders. One of their courses this term was attorney Irving Labovitz’s timely, “Objection! Current, Contentious, and Confusing Legal Battles.”

Professor Labovitz’s lectures always engender lively discussions. “And if something happens in the morning, we’ll hear about it in class that afternoon,” says Una. 

The Ellmans moved to Florida from New York in 1991 and started taking courses at the Boca campus. When they moved to Devonshire in 2007, they started at Jupiter.

While they relish political topics, Ed and Nina Diamond have taken a break from that in favor of lighter but still stimulating lectures about art, music, and literature. “I’m big on classical music and music in general,” says Ed, so the Diamonds recently took Joe Scott’s classical music course. 

Scott also presents in Devonshire’s lecture program. 

Dr. Taylor Hagood, whose Shakespeare class the Diamonds attended, might eventually lecture at Devonshire. 

Kami Batchelder, associate director of the Jupiter campus program, says Hagood has an engaging teaching style that pulls in his audience. “He’s a special kind of scholar,” says Ed, “and he has a good sense of humor.”

Ed and Nina drive the seven miles to the Jupiter campus because after class they often go to dinner with friends they’ve made at FAU.

The Society’s classes attract older adults from throughout the area. And because its roster reflects what’s happening in the world today, its membership is the largest in the country. 

Each campus has about 8,000 Society members, and in 2016 the Jupiter campus alone had 30,000 registrations.

“Besides meeting and interacting with other people,” says Batchelder, “[attending] lectures keeps you engaged, your mind active, and exposes you to different opinions. You’re not sitting at home; you’re forced to think!”

The reasons Devonshire’s community members attend courses at FAU are related to why they live at Devonshire. 

Its clubhouse, elegantly renovated last year, displays a gracious and sophisticated ambience throughout its common rooms and in its five world-class restaurants, not unlike the ambience in members’ homes and former clubs. 

Devonshire is located close to museums, theaters, and popular upscale shopping venues, but is not in a hurricane-evacuation zone.

And Devonshire’s many amenities, including valet and concierge services, corporate membership privileges at PGA National Resort & Spa, and five-star service, let members continue the lifestyle they’ve always enjoyed. 

Devonshire members lead interesting lives, have had accomplished careers, and have traveled the globe. Attending lectures at FAU keeps them current, thus helping them maintain their place as up-to-date citizens of the world. 

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