Franke Tobey Jones Senior University Includes UW Tacoma Faculty

Main page content

Senior University brings UW Tacoma lecturers and professors to talk about their work to Franke Tobey Jones, a senior living center adjacent to Point Defiance Park.

They say you’re never too old to learn something new, and a number of UW Tacoma faculty are making sure that’s true. Franke Tobey Jones, a non-profit retirement community in Tacoma, hosts a Senior University that brings lecturers and professors to talk about their work. “The idea is to keep people involved and actively using their brains,” said Senior University Coordinator Jana Wennstrom.

UW Tacoma Senior Lecturer Nicole Blair gave a presentation in April 2018 titled “The Blues isn’t Blue.” “I gave a brief overview of the history of the Delta blues and talked about common misconceptions of blues as a genre of both music and literature,” said Blair. “I also played a few of my favorite blues tunes.”

Like Blair, UW Tacoma Lecturer Kim Davenport also spoke about music as part of her Senior University talk. “I’m really interested in Tacoma’s musical history and that’s what I discussed,” she said. “I love teaching but most of my audience is 18- to 25-year-olds and you get used to presenting information to that group and hearing their perspectives, so it was great to present to an older demographic and get their feedback.”

Senior University is one part of a larger continued learning program at Franke Tobey Jones. “We have residents who are place-bound and who can’t get out into the community,” said Wennstrom. “Education can really do a lot to improve a person’s quality of life.” Presenters at Franke Tobey Jones have talked about a range of subjects outside of music including computing, foreign policy and brain science. “When I reach out to someone I ask them to talk about something they’re enthusiastic about,” said Wennstrom.

They may have been the instructors, but Blair and Davenport said they both learned something from the experience. “The people who came to my session actually lived some of this history and it was wonderful to hear that unfiltered input,” said Davenport. Said Blair, “Teaching is a two-way street. While students reap benefits from the instruction, teachers reap benefits from student questions and inputs while the session is happening.”

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / March 15, 2019
Photos by: 
Courtesy Franke Tobey Jones
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or