Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the
San Francisco (USF) offers noncredit courses with no assignments
or grades for adults age 50 and over with no other objective than
the love of learning.
Organized in 1976 with support from
Hanna and Alfred Fromm, the Institute’s program served as a model
for the Osher
Lifelong Learning Institutes
that have been established at over
120 universities and colleges in the United States.
The Fromm Institute was founded by Hanna Fromm (1914 – 2003) and
her husband Alfred Fromm (1905 – 1998), who had arrived in the
United States as refugees from Germany in 1936. Born Hanna Gruenbaum
to a prominent Jewish family in Nurenberg, she studied choreography and worked in the Paris fashion industry.Alfred Fromm, born in
Germany, was a fourth-generation winemaker.
Hanna and Alfred married in 1936
and fled the Nazis
, first to New York and then
to California, where Alfred formed a partnership to distribute
Christian Brothers wine
. Alfred took over the Paul Masson
vineyards in the 1950s, and began a
commitment to philanthropy
became ardently committed to an active intellectual life for
retirees, helping launch the Lifelong Learning program at USF with
financial support and by serving as its volunteer executive
director until the last months of her life. In 1979 the Fromms were
awarded honorary doctorates of public service by USF.
The Fromm Institute offers some 75 courses annually, spread over
fall, winter, and spring terms. The program is strong on courses in
. Courses meet once a week for
eight weeks. Faculty are primarily emeriti professors from
universities and colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The program has grown from 300 students
members in 1976 to 1250 student members today. Student membership
fees cover half the program costs, with the balance coming from
gifts, grants, and endowment earnings. The Fromms established
a sister program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1979.
After Hanna Fromm’s death in 2003,
former program director Robert Fordham was named executive
director. The Institute publishes a monthly newsletter, From
, during the academic year.
The Fromm program caught the attention of another San Francisco
philanthropist, Bernard Osher
, who was
inspired to spread the model to over 120 Osher Lifelong Learning
that his foundation has funded at universities and
colleges across the United States since 2001.
Fromm Hall, formerly a Jesuit
residence known as Xavier
renamed for Alfred and Hanna Fromm on October 24, 2003. The
building was remodeled following a $10 million capital campaign by
Friends of the Fromm Institute, with a lead gift from Hanna Fromm.
In addition to the Fromm Institute’s administrative offices and
four large classrooms, Fromm Hall also contains USF’s only
all-female residence, housing 175 freshman and sophomore women,
facilities for the fine arts program, a women’s institute, and the
parish offices of St. Ignatius
- See Residence
halls at the University of San Francisco.
"Old Enough to Know Better" is a documentary film directed by Ron
Levaco on the Fromm Institute and its students. It was released in
2001 by Icarus Films.