Lee’s Encore Program Reaches Senior Adults

Cleveland, TN—Lee University recently reported on a unique student enrolled in their Encore program, a community outreach designed for senior adults age 60 and older.

Upon completing 34 courses at Lee, Encore student Richard Brendel, 88, has decided to retire from the academic scene after 13 years.

According to their website, “Encore scholars are invited to enrich their lives through experiencing the academic excellence and Christ-centered atmosphere of Lee University. You may take courses for credit or just for fun. No special educational background or records will be required. Acceptance into a class is dependent upon available space.” For a $25 fee, Encore students are eligible to take up to two courses from the mini course or traditional course menu.

Brendel started his education at Indiana University in 1951, but paused his education to work and raise a family. After serving four years in the Air Force, he worked for Union Carbide (26 years) and the city of Phoenix, Arizona, (12 years) before eventually relocating to Cleveland, Tennessee.

“Mr. Brendel is such a positive presence in class,” said Dr. Terry Cross, dean of the School of Religion and one of Brendel’s professors. “He asks questions and engages in discussion that liven the material for professors and students alike. His wealth of life experience was something we all respected, and it came through when he spoke in class. I hope that I will be that engaged in my 80s.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took at Lee,” said Brendel. “The professors really knew their material, and I was able to broaden my understanding with each class. Now, when I read the Bible, I pay attention to the small words and meanings and they take me in a new direction.”
Brendel has lived in Cleveland since 2005. He and his wife Anne recently celebrated 67 years of marriage and have two children and four grandchildren.

According to Encore Coordinator Bethany McCoy, the program was introduced in 2007. In a normal semester (pre-COVID-19), Encore averages 300 who participate in a given semester and has demonstrated a high retention rate with new student enrollees every semester.

For more information about the Encore Program, visit leeuniversity.edu/encore.

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