The Bernard Osher Foundation

Bernard Osher and Barbro Osher

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 The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was started in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

The Foundation provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to reentry students. It also supports a national lifelong learning network for seasoned adults. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, operating on the campuses of 124 institutions of higher education from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska, have a National Resource Center at Northwestern University. In addition, the Foundation benefits programs in integrative medicine in the United States and Sweden, including centers at the University of California, San Francisco; Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; Northwestern University; Vanderbilt University; the University of Miami; and the University of Washington. Finally, an array of performing arts organizations, museums, and educational programs in Northern California and in Mr. Osher’s native state of Maine receive Foundation grants.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are found on the campuses of 124 colleges and universities from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. Each provides a distinctive array of non-credit courses and activities specifically developed for seasoned adults aged 50 or older who are interested in learning for the joy of learning. The Foundation also provides support to the National Resource Center for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Northwestern University.

A native of Biddeford, Maine and a graduate of Bowdoin College, Osher has pursued a successful career in business, beginning with the management of his family’s hardware and plumbing supplies store in Maine and continuing with work at Oppenheimer & Company in New York before moving to California. There he became a founding director of World Savings, one of the largest savings institutions in the United States. In 1970, Osher purchased the fine art auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield and oversaw its growth to become the fourth largest auction house in the world. In 1999, he sold the company to eBay. Barbro Osher is Consul General of Sweden in San Francisco, having served in the same capacity in Los Angeles from 1995-1998. She also is owner and publisher of Vestkusten, a Swedish-American newspaper in the United States, established in 1886 and providing news from Sweden on politics, business, and sports as well as information on the active Swedish-American community in the West.

A native of Stockholm, Sweden and a graduate of Stockholm University with a degree in languages and political science, Osher pursued a career in advertising and publishing in Sweden before returning to the United States in the early 1980s. Her first visit to America in 1962 was to Maine where she participated as a student in the Experiment in International Living program. Over the years, she has represented both the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Swedish Tourist Board.

Barbro Osher is one of the founders of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA) and is president of Positive Sweden/America, an organization furthering the image of Sweden through educational activities in the United States. Among numerous recognitions, including several honorary degrees, Osher received the Eliason Award from the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Los Angeles in 1999 and was named “Woman of the Year” by the SWEA last year in Stockholm. She also was a recipient of His Majesty the King’s Medal in 2002.

Barbro Osher is Chair of both The Bernard Osher Foundation and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. The Pro Suecia Foundation supports Swedish-related cultural and educational projects in North America and Sweden.” -Excerpted from

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