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Osher Director Mary Kay Shartle Galotto Retires

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Mary Kay Shartle Galotto, who led the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for retirees since 2011, is stepping into retirement herself.

And it’s not the first time: She retired from Montgomery College in 2009, when she was 67.

This time, though, she says she is really retiring.

“I really wasn’t finished when I retired the first time,” Shartle Galotto said. “Osher gave me the opportunity to use all those skills I had before in a totally new environment.”

Her last day is Jan. 15. Current Program Supervisor Susan Howard will become the director when Shartle Galotto steps down.

“She’s been a guiding light to me, a mentor,” Howard said.

Shartle Galotto began her career as a secondary English and special education teacher in several Maryland public school districts. She eventually went on to Montgomery College, where she worked in various positions until she retired in 2009 as executive vice president for academic and student services. She received accolades along the way, including being named as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Maryland Daily Record.

During her first two-year retirement, Shartle Galotto taught online classes for University of Maryland University College and oversaw graduate students working on their dissertations. She also was able to help out her daughter, Julia, who had a baby.

“It was a good two years to be out,” Shartle Galotto said. “But it wasn’t really enough to keep me busy.”

She heard about the Osher director position from Dianne Scheper. She and Scheper worked together at Montgomery College, and Scheper went on to work at Hopkins as a senior lecturer and program coordinator for the Master of Liberal Arts program. The Osher position was a good fit, and Shartle Galotto became director in 2011.

Osher is a non-credit academic program for retired and semi-retired adults. Courses include literature, opera, science, history, politics, religion and more. Of the nearly 1,300 senior citizens who are Osher at JHU members, nearly 1,000 of them take classes in Montgomery County.

When Shartle Galotto started at Hopkins, though, approximately 800 seniors were members, and approximately 500 people were on a waiting list. “The reason was there was nowhere to put them.”

One of her significant achievements, she said, was finding new places to hold Osher courses, such as at Asbury Methodist Village and Ingleside at King Farm, two retirement communities in Montgomery County.  “It worked well,” she said, quick to add that it was a team effort with her colleagues.

With enrollment hitting the 1,000 mark, Osher at JHU was eligible to apply for grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation. Osher was successful, receiving several $50,000 bridge grants and two $1 million grants. She is proud she was able to take “a great program and move it forward. It wasn’t just me. It was the staff.”

Osher at JHU is different today than it was in 2011. Today, Osher offers more courses at more locations, and does more special events, such as day and overnight trips, cruises and themed luncheons.

Shartle Galotto recognizes how much Osher means to its members.

“People love this program,” she said. “People come up to me and say ‘Osher saved my life.’ When people are professionals and career oriented, to just suddenly stop isn’t a lot of fun.”

In her second retirement, Shartle Galotto plans to travel with her husband and enjoy their condo in Naples, Fla. She has Italy, Russia and Switzerland in mind, and she loves cruises. “We’re both at this point healthy, and I want to take advantage of it.” She also looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren: Anthony, Henry, Naomi and David.

She has enjoyed working with Osher members. She described them as “bright, interested and loving learning. Members had a fit when there was a snow day, rather than cheering. I’ll miss it.”

Though she is leaving Hopkins, she knows it will always be important to her.  Her husband received his bachelor’s degree from Hopkins in 1963 and graduated from Hopkins medical school in 1967. Shartle Galotto earned her master’s in liberal arts from Hopkins in 1971, and her son graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s in economics.

“In a way, we were a Hopkins family, and it was always parts of our lives,” she said. “It was fun to work here and be a part of it.”

CATEGORY: Academics