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Guide to the University of the Third Age records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Material
  • Index Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: University of the Third Age records
    Date (inclusive): 1978-1984
    Collection number: USDA_2009_012
    Creator: University of San Diego, University of the Third Age
    Extent: 1 box (.5 linear feet)
    Repository: University of San Diego, Archives and Special Collections
    Copley Library
    5998 Alcalá Park
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Abstract: These records document the establishment of the University of the Third Age at the University of San Diego. Established in 1978, the USD University of the Third Age is a program for 55+ individuals to continue with lifelong education.
    Languages: English

    Historical Note

    The idea for an educational program for retired individuals, the University of the Third Age, was initially conceived by Pierre Vellas, a professor at the University of Toulouse, France, in 1972. Vellas saw the growing number of elderly individuals in France and believed that bringing them into the university environment among undergraduates, with intellectual stimulation and physical exercise, would slow the negative effects of aging. Vellas' program involved volunteer participation by undergraduate students; physical exercise through walking, jogging, swimming, and calisthenics; and lectures, roundtables, and field trips covering a broad range of topics. Vellas' program had such success that by 1978 the program was copied in 32 campuses throughout France and internationally in Switzerland, Belgium, Poland and Canada.
    Retired Marine Corps General Victor Krulak is credited with broaching the idea of bringing a University of the Third Age program to USD. President Author Hughes saw value in the program and began planning for a pilot program in August 1978. The pilot program mirrored Vellas' idea, with approximately 50 students attending five weeks of courses in physical conditioning, current affairs, law, economics, religion, medicine, retirement, language, and art. Undergraduate students were also involved in helping with the program. Press for inaugural year was accompanied by a documentary film broadcast by KCST-TV 39 San Diego. The film, which aired in November 1978, covered why the program was founded and documented what took place during the first University session.
    The University of the Third Age expanded to be offered twice per year, in winter and summer, and to enroll more students. The program has continued for nearly forty years and is the longest running community outreach program offered by the University of San Diego.

    Scope and Content Note

    The University of the Third Age records document the foundational years of the program. Records include plans and reports about the program and solicitation for funding. News articles, correspondence, and the script for the November 1978 documentary, broadcast by KCST-TV 39 San Diego, are included. Also included are records about establishing an Alumni association for the University, the graduation ceremony, programs for the early years of the university, and information about the courses taught. In addition to the administrative files are newspaper clippings and press releases related to the program.


    This collection is arranged into two series:
    Records are arranged in alphabetical order.

    Access Information

    These records are open for research.

    Preferred citation

    [Folder Title], Box # Folder #, University of the Third Age records, Copley Library, University of San Diego, Archives and Special Collections.

    Processing Information

    This collection was processed by Tessie Camina in 2009. Further processing was conducted by Ashley Toutain in 2016.

    Related Material

    The 1978 documentary video is available for view in the University Archives and Special Collections.

    Index Terms

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Krulak, Victor H.
    Hughes, Author E.
    Vellas, Pierre

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    University of San Diego

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San Diego (Calif.)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    University of the Third Age movement
    continuing education