Meet Our Instructors
The quality of our Osher instructors is a hallmark of our program. Many are current or retired professors, and several are accomplished professionals who are tops in their field. This powerful combination of academics and industry experts gives you a learning experience that's second to none in the Coachella Valley.
The Osher program is packed with outstanding and passionate instructors!
Osher member since 2013
Sue was hired as the director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in February 2015. She holds a BS in business management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an MS in educational leadership from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her background is primarily in marketing and program management, with the last 15 years in higher education. Sue is passionate about lifelong learning and is excited to be leading our OLLI.
Cash Baxter is a fine arts painter, art historian and world traveler. He is an award-winning, Broadway producer/NY director. Chosen by Richard Rodgers to direct two Japanese productions of “The Sound of Music,” Baxter was awarded the Chunichi Theatre Award, the Japanese equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Award. He founded the Musical Theatre Workshop at Southern Illinois University and was artist-in-residence at several universities throughout the country. This is Cash’s twelfth year teaching with the Osher Institute at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus.
Kerry is a retired real estate broker and mortgage banker. He moved to Palm Springs in 1973 after serving in the Marines and Vietnam as a tunnel rat. Playing tennis every day lost its luster and a friend mentioned the tour business. Now 10 years later, Kerry is considered one of the most knowledgeable certified interpretive guides in the desert. He teaches geology for the Living Desert University, is a hike leader for Friends of the Desert Mountains, and takes seniors and students on tours throughout the valley, in addition to giving private tours.
Bob taught chemistry at Pennsylvania State University in Abington for 30 years. He is the author or co-author of many publications about science education and is the joint holder of three U.S. patents. He has presented over 20 programs and workshops on effective techniques for teaching adults in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Korea, and Canada. Dr. Bernoff has developed considerable expertise in the teaching of science and technology to the layman, and has taught for the Osher Institute since 2014.
Michael is the author of more than a dozen published novels, three of which were honored as national finalists for Lambda Literary Awards. His award-winning short fiction has been published in British as well as American literary journals. His most recent project, Inside Dumont, is a novel told through "linked" short stories. Kirkus Reviews hailed it as "A delightful novel ... rollicking and engaging." He holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and resides in Rancho Mirage.
Rita completed her BA and MA at San Diego State University. She has taught multiple computer classes and computer programs for local students, Elderhostel students, and on board the MV Explorer as part of the Semester at Sea Shipboard Experience in 2003. Rita will be returning to Semester at Sea this fall as assistant executive dean. She has an extensive international travel background, including sailing around the world five times. For thirty years, Rita has resided in Palm Desert, except when she’s traveling the world or enjoying her northern lake home.
Butch received his MFA degree from the UCLA Department of Film and Television’s Independent Producers Program where he focused on story development and working with screenwriters. He served as the academic liaison to the high-profile professional faculty, studio heads, development executives, and others. Since stepping away from the day-to-day rigors of the film industry, Butch has been teaching film appreciation courses for older adults in the Coachella Valley, while writing a book on Orson Welles’ Mercury Production of Citizen Kane.
Dr. Fleishman is the author of Learn to Live Through Cancer: What You Need to Know and Do. He surveys cancer centers for accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and served as the associate chief medical officer and ethics committee chair of Continuum Hospice Care. Dr. Fleishman was among the first group of physicians board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, and has devoted his career to active symptom management for cancer patients. Dr. Fleishman also volunteers at the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Indio, providing primary care to the under-insured. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Fleishman taught in the New York City public schools.
Larry is a retired corporate manager and turn-around chief executive who started and managed one of the very early hedge funds. When he retired from business, he was appointed a professor of finance in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Larry is a self-proclaimed physics nerd, an avid hiker, and so-so bridge player.
Frank brings 25 years of professional Hollywood experience to his workshop. His background includes writer/producer credits for major hit shows including Dynasty, Dallas, General Hospital, Flamingo Road, Falcon Crest, New Years Rockin' Eve, and more. He also spent ten years as staff director with ABC News covering political conventions, space launches and major news events. For several years, Frank taught a creative writing workshop at UCLA. He is also a successful playwright and is working on his first novel.
Judy has been with Cabot’s Pueblo Museum Foundation since 2007. She has served on the board of directors, was the history committee chair, historian and docent. She has traveled extensively researching and validating the stories of Cabot Yerxa, and has collaborated with the Cabot Yerxa Foundation on a series of books and documentary film. She is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Dennis is executive director emeritus of the Henderson County Performing Arts Center in Athens, Texas. For 27 years, he led the theater in producing live programs and new program development, including youth and senior theatre companies. Dennis directed over 250 adult productions and more than 150 youth productions during his tenure. He was a professor of theatre and speech and was technical director of the theatre department for ten years at Trinity Valley Community College. He is also an accomplished actor, performing in many stage productions.
An award-winning filmmaker, Theodore (Teddy) Grouya is currently director of the American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund (AmDocs). AmDocs is the largest docs-only festival on the West Coast, and seeks to encourage education outreach through film and filmmaker exchanges. After graduating from UCLA while studying motion picture/television and history, Teddy worked on several Hollywood films and directed live television. He earned an MA from the Australian National University in international relations, then worked in international programs for the State Department.
David earned his BA in physics and PhD in biophysics in protein crystallography and molecular biology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He helped design some of the first airport security X-ray systems used worldwide in the 1970s. David and his wife, Sandra, later formed Temtec Inc., which developed and manufactured high-tech visitor and temporary IDs. Dr. Haas’ book, Personal Identification: Its Modern Development and Security Implications, reviews the history and reasons for modern personal identification documents such as passports, national identity cards, etc. David and Sandra have more than 80 patents to their credit, as well as many technical and scientific publications.
Tom was president of Golin/Harris Communications, one of the world’s largest international public relations firms. In 2000, he was awarded the Gold Anvil Award, the highest individual recognition presented by the Public Relations Society of America, and is the author of The World According To Me: The Best of the First 25 Years of the Thomas L. Harris Viewsletter, published in 2016. Harris was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and has taught Osher courses on the Great American Songbook for years. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a master’s degree in communication from The University of Chicago.
Mike grew up in Dresden, Budapest and Prague. He developed an early interest in cinema and began film studies in Berlin, where he supported himself writing film reviews. While in Berlin, Mike also started a career in international management with Lufthansa airlines, which later brought him to San Francisco. Mr. Herbst was involved in starting the International Film Festival in Egypt, and was later involved with the British Film Institute in London. He draws upon his extensive personal film collection for this Osher course.
Dale received his BA degree in radio/television/film from Temple University’s School of Communication and Theater. His career in motion picture and television production spanned 35 years, where he worked in both the public and private sectors, as well as many network and independent freelance projects. Most recently, Dale was a member of the judging panel at the 2015 American Documentary Film Festival.
Dr. McDonald attended San Diego State University and the University of Hawaii, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1995. He reads Greek and is a specialist in Plato and Greek philosophy and drama. Michael has broad interests and has taught classes at CSUSB on Thomas Jefferson and early American history. At Prescott College in Arizona, he taught Western and Chinese philosophy, emphasizing the Chinese Book of Changes. Dr. McDonald is a great believer in lifelong learning and has taken over 60 college-level courses in the last ten years.
Dr. Novick spent his career in the electronics industry where he managed groups developing materials and processes used to manufacture electronic circuits. The technology used to manufacture hybrid electronic circuits derives from the technologies used to decorate glass and china. As technical director of an international corporation developing both materials, David worked with scientists at the Corning Museum of Glass and those instrumental in what became the studio glass movement. Those contacts instilled a deep interest in the history of glass and, in particular, glass as an art medium.
Kevin has had a lifelong, deep interest in American history, especially in the American Civil War and the life of Abraham Lincoln. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master’s degree in political science, and has done doctoral work in political science. Following a career of over 25 years as an investment banker, Mr. Peterson is now semi-retired and a private investor. Prior to moving to the Coachella Valley, Kevin also taught history courses for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Utah.
Dr. Poland is a retired lawyer turned theologian and professor. She holds a BS in political science from UC Berkeley, an MA in religion from Claremont School of Theology, a juris doctor from San Francisco Law School, and a PhD from Claremont Graduate University. Arlette has been teaching at the college level for 15 years and lecturing with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute since 2005. Her areas of specialty include Buddhism, Judaism, science and religion, and world religions.
Shawn is the senior wine educator and store director for Total Wine & More in Palm Desert. Previously, he was the director of training and development for Bevmo, and also was a wine buyer for Cost Plus World Market. Shawn has worked on the retail side of the wine and spirits business in Southern California for over twenty years. He is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of spirits. When he is not working or learning about wine, Shawn enjoys losing at basketball to his two teenage sons.
For over forty years, Gary Smaby's artistic eye has peered through a camera lens. His acclaimed body of work has been featured on gallery walls and album jackets. He has become internationally known and an oft-quoted observer on the leading edge of technology; serving as an advisor to premier research institutions like IBM's TJ Watson Lab and AT&T's Bell Labs and guest lecturer at NASA's Langley Research Center. Since 2009, he's been a visiting scholar/artist at UCSD and UCSB; most recently at UCSB's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Smaby is a cum laude graduate of St. Olaf College with majors in East Asian studies and art.
Gary has enjoyed fascinating careers as an award-winning educator, political speechwriter, playwright, director, producer, performer and entertainment journalist. He is a two-time recipient of the Desert Theatre League’s award for best original writing. Gary is in his twenty-ninth year teaching English and speech at College of the Desert. He also teaches courses at the Art Institute of California and writes the weekly “Curtain Time” column for Desert Entertainer magazine..
Dr. Weinberg has been a cardiologist since 1978. He authored a book entitled U.S. Healthcare on Life Support (2007) detailing the financial crisis surrounding the nation's healthcare delivery system. As a lecturer at the Wharton Healthcare MBA program and a clinical professor of medicine at two Philadelphia area medical schools, he has been an educator for more than 30 years. Additionally, he was a founder and managing partner of a 26-person cardiology group in southern New Jersey. As a consultant to several local and national insurance companies, he has intimate knowledge of financial aspects of the healthcare industry.