The Center for Lifelong Learning (Center or CLL) is an organization dedicated to providing continuing learning opportunities to adults in Aiken and the surrounding Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). The Center was formed in 2021 by the merger of two long-standing organizations: the Academy of Lifelong Learning and the McGrath Computer Learning Center.

The Center is associated with the Office of External Programs, Continuing Education, and Conferences at the University of South Carolina Aiken (as were the predecessor organizations). The University provides support, administrative services, and physical facilities to the Center, which pays a per student fee to the University.

With the merger, the Center will be able to make more efficient use of the University’s resources and reduce operating expenses. It will be able to draw from a larger pool of potential students consisting of Academy members and McGrath students. The combined volunteer base will be able to better serve all of our students (but we need new volunteers to bring fresh ideas into the Center!).

The merger of the Academy and McGrath became effective July 1, 2021. There was a formal public announcement and signing of the merger agreement at a launch meeting held July 23, 2021 on the campus of USC Aiken.

The two organizations, the Academy for Lifelong Learning (founded 1989) and the McGrath Computer Learning Center (founded 1999), shared a common goal of adult learning, but each had a different focus. The Academy traditionally offered lecture classes on diverse subjects such as local history, general history, the arts, religions, health, exercise, travel, authors and books, and many others. McGrath traditionally offered hands-on classes on using personal technology such as PCs (and using apps such as Word and Excel with them), Macs (and using apps specific to them), smartphones, iPads, TV streaming, computer security, and many others. The Center continues these courses, now called General Interest courses (former Academy courses) and Technology courses (former McGrath courses).

To learn more about the history of the Academy and McGrath, please go to our history page.

The mission of the Center for Lifelong Learning is to provide both structured and informal continuing education opportunities for adults in the CSRA in conjunction with USC Aiken. These opportunities include lecture classes, technology classes, field trips, and social events.

The Center is managed by member volunteers. While we compensate some instructors, others are member volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. Our members share a common interest in continued learning experiences and intellectual stimulation. The goal is to learn and have fun. There are no tests or grades.

We are sponsored by USC Aiken and are self-supporting. Our courses and activities are planned and implemented by our members. We design our own curriculum and use instructors from USC Aiken faculty (current and retired), from our own membership, and from experts in the community at large.

The day-to-day activities of the Center are run by a governing board staffed by member volunteers. That board interfaces with the University to coordinate resources and find classrooms for the classes. In addition, there are many volunteers who work together to choose classes to be offered and to locate instructors for those classes. In the case of the technology classes, the volunteers actually act as instructors and coaches for classes.

We are a self-supporting organization and our fees enable us to offer these classes to our students. To participate in any Center for LifeLong Learning course or most sponsored events, a membership fee of $35 per semester is required. The membership fee helps us to pay a per-student fee to USC Aiken for the use of the classrooms and for administrative support. This fee also enables us to sponsor occasional social events for the students. Each class that you register for will have a small additional cost for that class based on the number of times the class meets. Fees charged for the classes allow us to pay the instructors of the courses and are based on the number of sessions in the class. Occasionally there may be an extra charge for materials related to the class, but these will be noted in the class description.

If you want to learn more about the Center, come to our Open House held twice a year. You may also call 803–641–3741 or email info@aikenlearning.org.