MCLL celebrates its 30th anniversary

McGill Community for Lifelong Learning has grown from 180 original members to 1,200 strong

The McGill Community for Lifelong Learning (MCLL) is a diverse population with one thing in common: a passion for learning. Study groups, lectures and workshops are peer-led and peer-moderated so members can share what they know and broaden their horizons in art, science, history, literature, music, travel and more.

The McGill Community for Lifelong Learning was founded in 1989 under the leadership of Fiona Clark

MCLL is a place to meet, mingle and socialize, and be introduced to disciplines many would not have tried as young students, such as physics and architecture and opera. “MCLL has absolutely changed my life.” says one avid member. That’s a sentiment you hear over and over in the corridors of the MCLL building on Sherbrooke corner Robert-Bourassa. There, MCLL has spacious classrooms, state-of-the- art audio visual equipment including live streaming plus a welcoming lounge.

MCLL members have access to the network of McGill University Libraries, as well as an MCLL-designated McGill Librarian. Research is part of the learning process at MCLL but equally so are discussions among peers, listening and absorbing.

The formidable Fiona Clark

The MCLL was launched in 1989, under the visionary leadership of Fiona Clark.

During her tenure as Assistant Director of Continuing Studies at McGill, Clark realized a community of lifelong learners would enrich not only McGill, but the whole of Montreal. She believed if mature students could continue to learn, why not people even older? She researched Harvard’s innovative Peer Learning model used at Harvard University for retired people and got the green light from McGill to set up the program in 1989.

“We started with 15 study groups and met in little classrooms all over the campus,” Clark recalls. Today, the MCLL is housed in a single building in the heart of the McGill campus. It has expanded to offer more than 100 study groups, workshops and lectures. From 180 original participants, the program’s membership has grown to 1,200 strong.

Mover of mountains

Clark’s enthusiasm for MCLL is matched only by the regard with which she is held by the program’s members.

“I had heard about Fiona’s project for many years and was anxious to start experiencing it when I retired in 1998,” says MCLL member Audrey Speck. “I have continued every year since then.”

“Fiona is one of those quiet people who can move mountains.” says Mary Ann Mongeau, MCLL member. “She is determined and highly organized. A formidable combination. Fiona has been a staunch supporter of the peer learning model which is fundamental to MCLL. She created diverse study groups which results in wonderful exchanges.”

The McGill Community for Lifelong Learning celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a special bursary fund created to honour Clark that will support students enrolled in McGill School of Continuing Studies (SCS) courses. MCLLers call it a fitting gesture for a formidable woman who has enriched so many lives.

The MCLL 30th Anniversary Gala Luncheon will be held on  November 28, at the McGill Faculty Club (3450 McTavish St.), from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. For more information please contact Ana Milic at 514 398-8234.