Guest Column: Malibu emeritus classes in jeopardy

Letter to the Editor

The natural resources of Malibu are out there for all to see and enjoy, but its intellectual ones may be less obvious. Malibu has many of the latter, including the Emeritus College, a resource that many Malibuites may be unaware of.

Since 1975, Emeritus College, a department of Santa Monica College, has been offering free classes to seniors covering a wide variety of subjects. There are currently more than 160 classes taught by a faculty comprised of active teachers, retired teachers and others expert in their subject matter. Classes take place at the college’s home base at 1227 Second Street in Santa Monica and elsewhere in the community, including the Malibu Senior Center.

There are four Malibu classes: creative writing (Tuesday, 9 a.m.), Shakespeare (Tuesday, noon), literature (Wednesday, 10 a.m.) and writing autobiography (Friday, 12:30 p.m.). The classes are approximately two hours in length. The creative writing class is taught by Ellen Reich, a published poet and short story writer. Peter Sawaya, a retired high school and college teacher of literature, teaches Shakespeare. The literature and autobiography classes are taught by Carol Davis and Mary Jane Roberts, respectively. Davis is a published poet, professor at Santa Monica College and a winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Roberts is a published poet, short story writer and playwright.

Recent state budget cuts are jeopardizing the continuation of the Emeritus College classes. The college is attempting to husband its available funding and to this end has determined to eliminate those classes that do not have an attendance it deems adequate. It has announced that if any class has fewer than 18 students for two consecutive classes, it will be dropped. The Malibu classes are on this borderline. Ellen Reich, the creative writing teacher and a longtime Malibu resident, says, “My students are enthusiastic and dedicated. They would be devastated if the class were discontinued. Many began the class with little or no creative writing experience and they are now excellent writers.”

Class catalogs and enrollment forms can be obtained at the Malibu Senior Center or by calling Emeritus College at 310.434.4306. It is not necessary to enroll prior to attending a class. Students can hand in the enrollment form at their first class.