The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg brings back the 55-Plus Program

Theckla Brown and Roger Groening standing in front of the UWinnipeg sign.

Theckla Brown (left) and Roger Groening (right) are two students in UWinnipeg’s 55-Plus Program.

After a short hiatus, The University of Winnipeg’s 55-Plus Program is returning this fall.

I think it’s really pivotal for us as seniors to still feel like we’re engaged in the world and that we’re taking an active role in trying to understand what’s going on.

Roger Groening

This unique program, the only one of its kind in Manitoba, has been engaging mature adult learners for more than three decades. While it’s advertised as 55-plus, all ages are welcome to attend classes.

Students can choose from 10-to-15 courses in a broad range of subjects, including history, philosophy, law, art, music, film, current affairs, religion, and political science. Each course is taught by an expert in the field.

Sandy HayGlass, Chair of the 55-Plus Program Committee, says students and professors alike are excited to be back in the classroom: “Instructors like these attentive and engaged students, while students love the diversity of courses and the focus on the joy of learning.”

What makes the 55-Plus Program distinctively different from others is that courses are only six-weeks long (one class per week). There are no tests, assignments, or exams. Instead, there’s a focus on learning, discussion, and socialization.

In addition, students experience the vibrant and diverse UWinnipeg community and develop new connections with their colleagues

Meet Theckla Brown and Roger Groening

Theckla Brown and Roger Groening are alumni of the 55-Plus Program, and both plan on taking courses again this fall. 

Brown says she always thought about returning to university as a mature adult learner, but due to the time constraints of regular courses, it never made sense.

Theckla Brown in front of the UWinnipeg sign.

Theckla Brown.

After learning about the 55-Plus Program and its condensed schedule, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to go back to school.

“It was just a fun experience” she recalled. “So many people stay at home and just watch television. This program gets your mind working and you get to meet new people.”

For Brown, the conversations she and her colleagues had in class were the highlights of her time in the program. 

Being able to attend a wide range of courses in different disciplines was also a plus for Brown. She says her two favourite courses were based around geography and infectious diseases.

“You really get to broaden your mind,” she said. “You can take courses that you might not have been able to take if you went to university, so that’s really exciting.”

For those thinking about taking courses in the 55-Plus Program, Brown has this advice:

“Just do it,” she said. “Since COVID, I think it’s important for people, now more than ever, to get out and meet other people.”

Groening was also in the 55-Plus Program with Brown. 

Roger Groening standing in front of Wesley Hall.

Roger Groening.

Unable to commit to year-long courses, Groening says he was excited to see a six-week program tailored for mature adult learners.

Besides the shortened schedule, being able to learn and hang out with people in the same age group was an important aspect for him.

“The program gives another perspective to people our age, because we’ve had a lifelong career in a field where we’ve tried to incorporate things that we learned when we were younger,” Groening noted, “and now we’re trying to make sense of some of that stuff. I think it’s great to have a collegial sort of conversation.”

During his time at UWinnipeg, Groening took a wide variety of courses, noting his favourites were Europe Between the First World War and Second World War and Greek Tragedies. 

He says the focus on conversations, particularly the ones between students and professors, was a highlight.

With the program returning this fall, Groening urges those thinking about joining to take the leap of faith.

“The experience of learning at our age is a different experience than it is when you’re younger,” he said. “I think it’s really pivotal for us as seniors to still feel like we’re engaged in the world and that we’re taking an active role in trying to understand what’s going on.”

Learn more about UWinnipeg’s 55-Plus Program, 2023 courses, and how to register