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Interested in becoming an OLLI at LSU instructor?

OLLI at LSU is fortunate to have a variety of highly qualified and interesting instructors. Our instructors have taught everything from art and history to clowning and sailing. Instructors for OLLI have the option to receive an honorarium for teaching and can also enjoy other benefits such as taking a free course.

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Meet Our Instructors

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OLLI at LSU Spring 202

Instructor Bios

Leah Baron has a J.D., from Paul M. Hebert Law Center (LSU), and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in history from LSU. She is a retired CEO of the Louisiana Health Plan, a non-profit health insurance company providing health coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions and a former lawyer and Administrative Counsel to the President of the LA Senate.
Tommy Beard has a PhD from Duke University and is an alumni professor of economics. He is an opera enthusiast and collector of opera recordings. He has taught 36 opera courses for the Lagniappe Chapter of OLLI at LSU and eight opera courses for OLLI at Auburn University.
Naomi P. Bennett is a performance scholar, movement artist, and video projection designer. She earned a PhD from Louisiana State University in Communication Studies, with a focus in Performance Studies. Her current research is in interactive digital performances that physically engage embodied experience via computer-mediated technology. Through this entanglement of physical and virtual, Bennett’s work seeks to activate senses of touch, sight, and proprioception through traditionally disembodied mediums.
Agnes Bickham is a Yoga Alliance E-RTY with experience of 1,000+ teaching hours. She received her Registered Yoga Teacher Certification from Shambhava School of Yoga. She has practiced and taught Hatha Yoga (primarily) at various studios and venues since receiving her certification. Agnes teaches yoga as a stabilizing practice that grounds students; thereby, promoting a sense of well-being, strength, confidence, balance and joy.
Jim Bolner, Sr., is a professor emeritus of political science (LSU), received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Virginia. His area of expertise is American constitutional law and history. He has taught at LSU and several universities in the United States and France. Since his retirement from LSU in 1999, he has taught courses in the OLLI program on American politics and digital photography.
Zachary Bordas is an English Ph.D. student at LSU and received his M.A. in English from The University of Georgia (2018). He has published in Postcolonial Interventions (2019), and Journal of Contemporary Poetics (2017). He has presented at the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies; Harvard’s Way of Knowing; NeMLA; South Asian Literary Association. He recently secured a “Friends of Princeton” library grant and will present his research at the 2021 Bavarian American Summer Academy.
As first a journalist, and then an intelligence analyst, Henry worked all over the parts of the world that were important in the Middle Ages, and since retiring has studied their histories.
Monica Bradsher has been studying Russian culture since the 1960s, when she learned to speak Russian while living in Moscow with her husband Henry Bradsher, then the AP Bureau Chief covering news of the USSR. Since 1988 she has visited Russia more than 30 times, working for the National Geographic Society, leading church missions, and exploring as a tourist. (Highest degree earned: MEd from Harvard)
Harsha Chacko is a Professor Emeritus of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration at the University of New Orleans where he taught for 33 years. In 2009, Harsha successfully completed the requirements for the designation as a Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators. Since 2018, Harsha has been the wine director for Bonne Cuvee Wine Tours, a company with a mission to provide wine educational experiences through wine tastings and travel to premier wine regions. Due to world-wide travel restrictions in 2020, Bonne Cuvee has been conducting online monthly wine seminars and tastings (
Caroline Cocciardi, a writer and filmmaker, began an independent study on Leonardo da Vinci, while living in Rome. Her 20-year research lead to a da Vinci discovery. Her newly released art book, “Leonardo’s Knots” will introduce you to a facet of the Renaissance painter that was overlooked for centuries yet was present in his artworks: his passion for intertwining knots. In 2009, Cocciardi documentary, “Mona Lisa Revealed” documenting engineer Pascal Cotte, inventor of the multispectral camera that uncovered five centuries of secrets within Leonardo’s iconic Mona Lisa. BAARTS San Jose State University. Cocciardi has lectured to service groups, da Vinci Symposium's, Commonwealth Club and universities.
Charlotte Collins received art degrees from LSU and UNO, and an M.F.A. from Memphis College of Art. She was an Associate Professor of Art at Kennesaw State University and taught at SELU. An active artist in my hometown community, she is the Director of the Olde Towne Arts Center, and a founder and board member for the arts krewe, Krewe of Mona Lisa and Moonpie. Charlotte currently teaches Talented Arts at University View Academy.
Erica Daigle has a PhD in English from the University of Iowa, where she studied Renaissance literature and the history of medicine. Her favorite writer to teach is Shakespeare. Outside of Renaissance culture, Erica has a research and teaching interest in world religions and mythologies.
Claire Fontenot is a Master Gardener since 2000.She coordinates the volunteers at BREC Independence Park Botanic Garden where she has developed the American Daylily Society display garden, The Louisiana Iris, and ginger display. She continues to provide students with information about gardening at home.
Richard Fossey is a retired professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and Editor of Catholic Southwest, a regional Catholic history journal. He taught a freshman course on Catholicism and the Movies at ULL, and I love movies.
Charles Fryling earned his BS in Landscape Architecture from Syracuse University and his MS from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. In 1967, following several years as a designer at a Landscape Architecture firm in Pittsburgh, he accepted a job at LSU and has been teaching in the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture ever since. His special interest since childhood has been the natural world and his expertise as a landscape architect is the field of design esthetics. His wide range of LSU courses include plant materials, ecology, public lands, design, and the artists who have been affected by the American landscape, using his photographs extensively to illustrate his lectures.
Paul Graham received his Ph.D. in English, with a concentration American film, from LSU in 2002. He received a master's degree in English, with a concentration in Medieval literature, in 1997 from UNO. He taught various English classes at LSU, West Virginia University, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania until he returned to Louisiana in 2008. Now he's an administrator in Louisiana state government and has taught OLLI classes since the summer of 2019.
Jerisse Grantham earned her BS from LSU and is certified by Dance Masters of America. With more than 30 years of experience, Grantham enjoys sharing her passion of dance by teaching young and old alike. She offers a variety of dance classes at her studio, The Jeffie Jean Dance Studio, at public & private schools in the Baton Rouge & Zachary areas, and she is an 18-year adjunct faculty member of Tulane University in the Theater & Dance department.
Jillian Guinta is a Yoga Therapist and teacher of mind-body science. Hailing from New Jersey, Jillian has completed several advanced trainings in therapeutic yoga as well as a certificate program in Applied Positive Psychology. In addition to her experience teaching courses in trauma-informed yoga and positive psychology, Jillian holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Seton Hall University where she was named Adjunct Professor of the Year (2015- 2016).
Erin Halloran is originally from Minnesota where she earned her BA in History from the University of Minnesota-Morris. She graduated with her Masters and Ph.D. in British History from LSU. She is currently employed as the Rector for the LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Residential College where she teaches HSS classes to HSS freshmen. She has taught several history courses at LSU including: Western Civilization Prehistory - 1500 and 1500- present, Medieval England 1300- 1500. Summer 2018 she was an instructor on LSU in Ireland, where she taught the courses Medieval Ireland and England, and Early Modern Ireland and England. She has taught England: 1300-1500 for OLLI before as well as Medieval Ireland and the Misunderstood Crusades.
Pat Heurtin is a retired Health & Physical Education Teacher with a M+30 Hours with emphasis in Health, and an Ambassador for the sport of Pickleball. She is the person responsible for bringing pickleball to the West Feliciana area in 2015. She has worked closely with the West Feliciana Sports Park as well as OLLI to promote and teach this 'great activity with the funny name' to a great number of people in the area. She also organized the West Feliciana Pickleball Club.
Trenton James is a retired family physician who practiced for over 50 years+---49 of which in the Baton Rouge area. Currently, performing population health management in care coordination, care transition, and multicomplex chronic disease states for both commercial and government entities for eQHealth Solutions, Inc. Dr. James remains medical licensed in Louisiana and maintains his Certification in the America Board of Family Medicine. Hobbies include camellia culture and its history, the history of medicine in Louisiana, historic home preservation, and landscaping.
Liz Johnston is a 4th year doctoral fellow in Comparative Literature with a minor in French Studies at LSU with a focus in afro-spirituality, folklore/witchcraft, Louisiana/Caribbean studies, and pop culture. She holds an MA in English with a concentration in writing/culture from LSU and a BA in English with a concentration in writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Claire M. Kantrow is a physical therapist and chronic pain specialist practicing at Elevate Wellness Studio in Baton Rouge, LA. She graduated in 2009 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LA. She has practiced in outpatient orthopedic settings and has developed a niche practice in managing patients with chronic pain and complex neuro-orthopedic conditions. Claire has lectured in a variety of settings including at the LPTA State Conferences, in the Doctor of Physical Therapy programs in the state, and in the community.
Patricia “Trish” Kaplan has a master’s degree in Education from George Washington University and has been a member of OLLI for many years as well as an instructor for 10 years. An avid for advocate for cats she delights in teaching people about cats so that the two species and live in harmony. She has been an active volunteer at the local state of the art adoption center, Cat Haven, and is currently owned by 4 cats. Her greatest teaching moment was when she overheard a student say, "I've had cats for 8 years and I never knew that!"
Owen Kemp has been a yoga instructor for several years & received her yoga training through the Living Yoga program at the Barsana Dham Ashram in Austin, TX. She attended training sessions at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY & various venues around the country & internationally. Owen's yoga style is best described as flow.
W. J. (DUB) LANE, Ph.D. Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance; Freeport McMoRan Professor of Economics; Director, MS Program in Health Care Management and MS program in Finance at the University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA (Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, 1978). Professor Lane is a specialist in Microeconomics and Health Care Economics. He has 40 years of teaching experience, 33 of which at UNO. His current teaching duties range from freshman Microeconomics to Masters-level Health Care Economics and PhD-level Microeconomic Theory. He has published in leading Economic, Finance and Law Journals. He has served on the Board of Commissioners for Slidell Memorial Hospital. He also frequently appears on Fox8 TV and WWL radio as a commentator on Economic issues.
Sam LeBlanc is a retired attorney. He and his wife, Noelle, have lived in West Feliciana since 2008.
Merrie Lee Logan, originally from the Midwest, attended The University of Iowa and La Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City before moving to Louisiana and graduating from LSU with a degree in Spanish, French, and English. She taught in public and private schools for almost twenty years before joining the awesome OLLI family!
Ernest Ayo Loyola RPh 1966, US Army Captain 1968, LSU RN 1985, U of M CRNA 1979, Retired 2018. Founded Panache Croquet Club April 2019. Professor W. Cochran serves as our mentor.
Bridget May is a Professor Emeritus, Marymount University who holds a BFA in Interior Design and a masters and a Ph.D. in Art History. She taught Interior Design history and research for nearly four decades before retiring in 2016. Her specialties include Colonial Revival and American architecture, interiors, and furniture and history of interior decoration and decorators. Dr. May teaches History of Interiors for the School of Interior Design at LSU.
William McClendon, III, has taught at LSU, Univ. of Tennessee and Western Carolina University teaching negotiating and professionalism courses to law, business, and graduate engineering students. He practiced law with Taylor Porter Law Firm in Baton Rouge for 40 years. Bill has given talks to various groups, including churches, OLLI and the LA Legislature on building better relationships, civility, history, and using your imagination creatively. He holds a B.A. in history and an LLB in Law from Tulane Univ. He has won many awards and is listed in Who’s Who in the World. He is the author of Deal Makers: Negotiating More Effectively Using Timeless Values.
Olivia Pass has two master's degrees from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (English and journalism) and a Ph.D. in American and British Literature (University of Louisiana, Lafayette). She taught in the public school system for twenty-two years and on the university level since 1994.
Jane Patterson is the current President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, as well as the Education chair. She started birding in 2005 and has been teaching birding classes since 2007. She was honored at the National Audubon national conference in July 2014 with the Dutcher award for outstanding service by an Audubon Chapter leader for her efforts in bird related education. Jane retired from her career in state government in 2017 as the Director of Telecommunications where she was responsible for overseeing internet and phone services for Louisiana state government.
TroyLynne Perrault is a Pampered Chef Consultant and recent cancer survivor whose passion is to help people make healthier food choices. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. She is also a licensed Louisiana Realtor and fundraiser who has worked at three universities in New Orleans.
Brian Pope is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin. He performs the creative and hosting duties for Center Stage on WRKF-FM, a one-hour radio show that each week examines a topic or theme dealing with musical theater, now in its 18th season on the air. He was inducted into the Theater Baton Rouge’s Hall of Fame in June of 2012. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches where he teaches Musical Theater History and Literature.
Xiaolei Qiu has a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Louisiana State University.
Raquel Robvais has a master’s and PhD from LSU in Communication Studies and a BS from Southern University A&M in Biology. Her major area of study was health communication, rhetoric of science and critical race.
Karl Roider earned his Ph.D. in History from Stanford University in 1970. He began teaching at LSU as an instructor in History in 1968 and retired from LSU as Alumni Professor and Dean (Arts and Sciences) Emeritus in 2014. While at LSU he taught a course on the First World War many times and conducted tours of the Western Front three times.
Rose Marie Sand has been a stained glass and mosaic artist since 1980. She’s taken workshops with Laurel True, Carol Shelkin, the Stained Glass Studio in Boston, and many others. She has also given mosaic and stained glass classes in her own studio, as well as for the Voices Foundation and the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce. Rose’s ukulele experience includes lessons with Todd Lemoine and Devin Scott. She’s also taught beginner Ukulele with a Uke group called Strums and Roses, as well as with private students. She’s always learning new artistic mediums, and has found her creativity to be a Godsend.
Nancy Sidener earned her AB at University of California, Berkeley, and her PhD at UC, Davis. Before retiring, she taught economics at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and part-time at LSU, while directing the Louisiana Council for Economic Education.
Mark Stahl currently serves as a part-time contractor to higher education, including LSU Online and Continuing Education. Stahl previously served as Assistant Dean of University of New Orleans Metropolitan College and Executive Director of the UNO Downtown Campus. Prior to joining the University of New Orleans, Stahl was manager of medical education for the Indiana University Medical Center. He has a master’s degree from Indiana University and completed doctoral coursework in higher education at the University of Houston.
Bill Stickle graduated from Slippery Rock University, PA with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1965, University of South Dakota (MS zoology, minor in medical physiology) in 1967, and University of Saskatchewan at Regina (PhD biology, minor in oceanography) in 1970. Taught at LSU from 1972- 1995. Bill developed the LSU Marine Biology in Southeast Alaska program, now in its 12th year. He has conducted research in the Gulf of Mexico, the west coast, and Plymouth England.
Tip Tipton is an actively retired musician/composer with B.A., MMus. (LSU), EdD. degrees and teaching experience @ Xavier Univ., New Orleans. Rev. Tipton is a semi-retired Presbyterian U.S.A. Pastor with 27 years of pastoral experience with New Iberia and Orlando congregations. He has also taught as an adjunct professor for Columbia Theological Seminary.
Greg Tomlinson received his Ph.D. in history from LSU in 2020. He has previously taught courses for OLLI on the history of the Third Reich, German identity from 1750-present, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Emily Toth (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University) is an LSU professor who has taught courses in women writers, Louisiana women, women's lives, and nonfiction writing. Her eleven published hooks include biographies (Kate Chopin and Grace Metalious), academic advice books (Ms. Mentor), and one prizewinning historical novel. Her online advice and memoir columns include "Ms. Mentor" and "Talking Writing.
Riley Clare Valentine is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, focusing on political theory. They have a M.A. in Political Science in political science with a minor in philosophy.
Kirk Vidrine has been working as a fitness professional for over 20 years including 5 years developing and implementing corporate wellness programs for Shell Oil and is the owner of V-Well Solutions. He has an undergraduate degree in dietetics from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in Human Nutrition, also from Louisiana State University. Kirk has performed research in nutrition and body composition, bone health, and bio compounds, and has presented his nutrition research at national scientific conferences. Kirk’s combination of knowledge and experience with food and exercise allow him to give people a complete picture of what a healthy lifestyle can be.
Vernon Lee Wright received degrees from Iowa State university (BS Wildlife Management), Purdue University (MA Wildlife Biology), and Washington State University (Ph.D. in Zoology). He has a Postdoctoral from Cornell University (Biometrics). At LSU he was an Experimental Statistician helping faculty and students regarding design and analysis. He also worked on contract regarding geese, ducks, and alligators. At the LSU Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, he worked on alligators, waterfowl, egrets, eagles, and other birds and reptiles