The MIT Quarter Century Club Dickson Fund assists retired QCC members with continued education.

Quarter Century Club
T: 617-253-7914

Mailing address
77 Massachusetts Avenue
MIT Room E19-711
Cambridge, MA 02139

Dickson Fund Grants

Please enjoy reading these descriptions of classes taken by fellow QCC members who were awarded William R. Dickson Fund grants.


Northern European Art (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

"From this course, I learned a lot about the evolution of northern Europe through the paintings we visited during the course. I now have a good understanding as to why these artists' works are considered so important, both in terms of their skill and how they impacted the world of fine art."

"Degas and His World" (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

"My ability to look at works of art from a wider variety of perspectives was enhanced and I now gain a lot more satisfaction out of viewing fine art in general."

Watercolor Painting Class

"I'm learning a lot more about technique and as mentioned in the summary of my first course, I continue to find that the most valuable learning component is the exposure to different levels of experience and expertise and the sharing of knowledge and technique among class participants."

Computer Courses

Photoshop CS6 (private instruction)

"One will never learn everything there is to know about Photoshop, but I feel more confident and plan to take more workshops to learn as much as I can about it."

Photoshop CS6 (The Photography Institute of Naples, FL)

"As a result of these sessions, I am now able to combine effectively some of the more advanced tools and options available in Photoshop. Photoshop CS6 is a complex editing program with a steep learning curve... I feel that I continue to make progress towards the goal of learning as much as possible about it."

Web 2.0 Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts (Mass. Bay Community College)

"I have just proven that I can still study and learn useful and applicable information at age 83. I certainly would encourage all retirees to continue learning."


Stained Glass Design (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"In the beginning, I was so afraid of just touching the glass or, worse still, hurting myself (or others), but soon overcame this fear after I learned how to handle the tools and the various textures of glass. Learning how to use just the right amount of pressure for scoring and snapping the glass was exciting."

Wood Turning: Bowls and Beyond (Eliot School of Fine Arts, Jamaica Plain)

"The instructor of this class is the same one I took my first instruction in turning from many years ago…I have progressed some in my turning skills since then, but he is an exceptional teacher. It will be really useful to receive further instruction from him."

Ceramics (North Shore Clay Studio)

"The weekly lessons provide the demonstrations and hands-on instructions, which I find are critical. It also provides an environment where techniques and ideas are exchanged with fellow students working on developing similar skills… this hobby has given me hours of enjoyment."

Basic Ceramics (The Potters School, Needham)

"This 3rd pottery course focused on the more advanced aspects of ceramics including wheel throwing of vessel covers and enclosures, throwing "off the hump" (multiple objects from a single mound of clay on the wheel), bowls, tall vessels, and mugs with handles and importantly improving my general pottery throwing skills."


"Improve skills in wheel throwing and hand building."

"Learned basic handbuilding techniques for clay – pinching, coiling, and slab work – as well as how to use molds for forming desired shapes, and the various clay stages of drying, bisque firing, and glazing."

Beginning Pottery (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

Manipulation of clay, both in hand-molded projects and in using the pottery wheel; attachment procedures (slipping and scoring), construction of slabs, building pots on the wheel and trimming them in a leather-hard state, and the use of glazes, underglazes, and oxide washes for decorations. (Course description)

Intermediate and Advanced Pottery

"The focus of the pottery class during the first half of the year was to prepare for a group exhibit at the Marblehead Arts Association in June. This event motivated everyone to be creative, as making presentable items for this juried event proved to be quite a challenge. We were able to assemble quite an impressive show by June. The exhibit was well received and as an added bonus, the gift shop at Marblehead Arts Association now carries my pottery!"

Glaze Intensive Workshop

"Covered the theory of glaze formulation and materials a well as firing temperatures to achieve various surface colors and textures. The main focus was to learn to mix glazes safely and create colors that are not available at the studio. Working in small groups, we were able to generate several colors of interest."

Terra Sigilatta Workshop

"An ancient surface treating technique that creates a satin finish with organic appearance. Vessels are dipped in slurry prior to bisque firing. Then soda ash applied before second firing to create the satin finish. The workshop included demonstrations to generate several different types of terra sigillata material as well as application."

Basket Workshops

"Each basket was very different in style, materials and weaving method. From every class there was new information and techniques learned."

Sculpture (Quincy Art Association)

"I really enjoy using 'sculpey' clay, it is easier to use and does not dry out until you fire it and you can fire it in your home oven at 275 degrees."

All About Veneering (Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Beverly, MA)

"During this course, I worked on a veneered table top for the Federal Work Table I completed this spring… When I finish this top, it will really be a standout—a mottled cherry center with satinwood cross banding."

Advanced Furniture Making (Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Beverly, MA)

This class is for those who have had instruction in basic machine use and hand tools and would like instruction in building a project of their own liking. This is a great opportunity to learn from one of the leading furniture makers in the country. (Course description)

Carving a Newport Shell (Breed School, Maine)

"I needed to learn this skill for the Townsend Document case I am building. It involved choosing appropriate carving gouges, laying out the work, and carving the piece paying particular attention to grain direction."

French Polishing (Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Beverly, MA)

Adult Jewelry: Beaded Jewelry Course (Danforth Museum)

"A beading course that covers multiple techniques in the art of making beaded jewelry and how different types of beads provide visual and color appeal. I learned many different techniques including peyote stitch, herringbone weaving, using double-holed beads to enhance use of color, and choosing clasps and findings that can enrich the final product."


Pilates and Therapeutic Exercise (Your Center, Cambridge)

"Both my back pain and balance are improving significantly with these sessions and the customized attention [that the instructor] gives."

Golf (Brookline Adult and Community Education Center)

"By the time the course ended, I had developed a fairly consistent and well executed swing. After taking this class, I feel confident in understanding all aspects of the game and capable of going to a golf course and playing a game while being respectful of other players, an important part of the game."

Adult Weight Management Program (Lahey Clinic Medical Center)

"The benefit of having taken this course has been increased awareness of what my nutrition needs are and the benefits of wight loss after a bypass."

Especially for Women Golf (private instruction)

"I learned a lot, but as a golfer knows, it's a head game. The good news is that once you know the basics you may just have a good day on the course!"

Feldenkrais/Bones for Life (private instruction)

"I have found Feldenkrais classes very helpful in reducing pain from osteoporosis and hip replacement surgery, and I wanted to focus specifically on the osteoporosis-prevention aspect... I now walk daily, without serious pain."

Gyrotonic Intensive Sessions (Movement Center of Boston)

"Taking Gyrotonic classes regularly has been more beneficial to me, in terms of building strength, flexibility, and coordination, than any other form of exercise….As I age, my goal is to stay as physically active as possible. Taking weekly Gyrotonic classes and workshops is the best way for me to achieve this."

Personal Training Sessions (YMCA, Gold's Gym)

"My cardio endurance and my balance had improved somewhat, I had increased the weight resistance to the arm and leg equipment I was using, and Steve had added some new exercises and increased the number of repetitions I was performing. On top of that, I had lost a few pounds and tightened up some muscles, so I was really feeling good."

"Meet with personal trainer approximately twice a week for strength training / flexibility. Also improve core strength and aerobic capacity."

Tai Chi (Brookline Adult Education Center)

Start your day with new energy and inner calm with the practice of one of the original ancient Chinese martial arts. (Course description)

Stretch and Strengthen (Newton Wellesley Hospital Wellness Center)

"Let me thank the QCC Board for their generosity and foresight in providing this reimbursement incentive for members to pursue healthful and helpful personal objectives. The added incentive tipped the balance scales for me in favor of trying something which I would probably have put off again otherwise. Both of the courses I have taken... focused on improving posture and balance while increasing muscle strength and flexibility."

Gentle Stretch and Core Strength (Newton Wellesley Hospital Wellness Center)

"GS and CS... [added] in elements from Pilates and Yoga as well as traditional strength training. I found both programs to be useful and helpful, but the additional elements... enhanced the exercise experience for me, and are why I switched to and continued this program."

Swimming Lessons (MIT and Boston Sports Club)

"The course was focused on floating, treading, changing body positions and comfort in and around water….gave me confidence in the water and I am looking forward to taking the next course."

"After learning the basics of breathing and kicking last term, we spent most of this time working on the crawl... we were taught how to breathe on both sides in case we happen to be in the middle of a storm and the waves are blowing the wrong way!"

"I was impressed with the new swimming pool. I learned backstroke, breaststroke, and elementary swimming skills."

"We were very pleased to find that we were losing several inches from our waistlines as a byproduct of this workout program…My stamina and comfort in the water have increased enormously. We look forward to continuing this exercise for many years."

Zumba Gold Aerobics (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"Zumba looked so easy and a lot of fun on TV... When the music began, everyone started moving around so professionally and here I was in the middle of the floor, with mirrors all around not knowing what to do... Now I can almost keep up with the others (who had been attending this Zumba class regularly)... Zumba is finally getting to be fun!"



"Learned how to prevent and cure cancer, flu, head colds, and sore throats."

Cardiac Rehabilitation and Maintenance

"My participation in this program allows me to continue my education regarding cardiovascular disease risk management. In addition, the supervised exercise training part of the program helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle in my retirement."


International Human Rights: Victims, Violators, and Enforcers

"The instructor and several of the class members had worked in NGOs in Africa and Asia, and this personal experience enhanced the classroom discussion. One particularly interesting guest speaker participated in the war crimes trials in Bosnia Herzegovina and the difficulty of prosecuting war criminals. Basically, I learned that although the UN is far from perfect, it has made progress since WWII in promoting human rights."

American Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"The class included weekly discussion of selections from 'Real Education' by Charles Murray and 'The Death and Life of the Great American School System' by Diane Ravitch, plus some other sources. There was consensus within the class and in the sources that standardized testing of only reading and math was counter-productive.Public funding of preschool seemed likely to have a greater impact than any of the other programs."

Geronimo and the Breakout

"Learned about Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches and their treatment by the US Government."

Cochise and his Apache War

"Learned about Cochise and his tribe of Chiricahua Apaches and their brutal treatment by the US government. Not a proud moment for the US."

Historic Hotels in Arizona II

"Learned about a number of historic hotels of Arizona and their history. Compliments other history courses on Arizona that I have taken."

Modern Arizona History

"Learning about the modern history of Arizona, from 1850 to the present. This course compliments other Arizona history courses I have taken."

Optics Made Clear: The Nature of Light and Its Uses

"Learned about the significant inventions concerning optics and how useful they are in our modern world."

Manned Space Flight

"It was a most interesting course, well taught and I could understand and appreciate the material."

The Book of Books: A History of the Bible

This course examined the historical development of the various "Books of the Bible" content plus the various Bible's historical impact on societies and cultures.

The Roswell Incident

This course reviewed the reported history of the July 1947 "Roswell Incident" about extraterrestrial contact.

How Do I Feel? How Should I Feel?

A discussion class about the changing values and cultural shifts in the Jewish Community, with a focus on the response of mainline Jews to the changing circumstances. Led by author, journalist, and sociologist Sol Littman.

Jewish Leadership During the Holocaust

Confronted by Nazi overseers, Jewish leaders in Warsaw, Lodz, Kaunas, and Vilna faced difficult choices while attempting to keep their communities alive; between defiance or cooperation with the Nazis, between sacrificing some to save others, between supporting the underground or repressing it, trusting the Jewish police or despising them, and between saving their own families or saving the rest of the Jewish community. This discussion class is led by author, journalist, and sociologist Sol Littman.

"We were presented with review of five Jewish leaders in ghettos of Eastern Europe... I gained a far deeper appreciation of what these leaders faced and how their morality guided and or misguided them. Often it ws difficult to judge if they were right or wrong in their decisions."

Science Smorgasbord, News & Views

Film discussion, Poverty in American Society

Water Resources of the Colorado River Region

Online Certificate in Genealogical Research (Boston University)

"…this course was rich with many other experiences besides the nuts and bolts of genealogical research. The course also provides many connections to otter people in the field, my classmates… and other former attendees of the class."


Contract Bridge (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"When the course ended we found that the Cambridge Adult Center had no follow-up advanced course and we were rearing to go, so we formed our own bridge club! Five of us met every Wednesday to play for about three hours….This course has definitely added another dimension to my retired life and I am so happy I signed up for it."


Latin American Women Writers (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"I loved the authors who used humor and irony to present the horrors of what was happening in their country... This course gave me many hours of enjoyable reading and insights into the lives of women in different countries of Latin America during different time periods."

Cinema and Conversation in Spanish (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"In addition to enhancing my Spanish, I continue to learn a lot about films and have new appreciation for things such as lighting, camera angles, sound, etc. I no longer watch them just for the story... I have never felt so comfortable xpressing my opinions in class... It is such good practice in speaking... I learned a part of history of my own country that was new to me."

Italian (Orbit Lingua School in Italy)

"I don't consider myself fluent yet, but I am continually increasing my confidence and will keep trying to improve my skills, thanks to the school and my very skilled teacher Valentina. In retirement it is important to keep learning, to maintain connections with family, to meet new people, and engage with life. These Italian classes have helped me with all of that."

Italian (Private Lessons)

"We start each lesson with a conversation about what we have been doing. I am delighted to have her correct my mistakes on the spot. Sometimes these errors turn into mini-lessons on grammar and often lead to an assignment covering that grammatical point... I am really learning a lot from the mistakes I make. My confidence in speaking Italian is growing thanks to these lessons."

Advanced Reading and Conversation in Spanish (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"In addition to getting practice listening and speaking Spanish I got a lot of practice writing and since we occasionally also had grammar review homework, I got to brush up on my grammar."

Latin American Literature (Cambridge Center for Adult Education)

"In addition to the opportunity to read new stories and authors, I am meeting and exchanging ideas with different groups of students each term. Most of the students are considerably younger than I am and so often they have different viewpoints from mine."

"I love the stories, the opportunity to read new authors, the opportunity to have an intellectual discussion in Spanish and the instructor is fantastic. I hope she continues to offer the class with different stories for a long time to come."


Piano Lessons (private instruction)

"We focused on three areas: sight reading, with attention to tempo, fingering, and coordination between left and right hands; Ear-training and transposing; and intervals and chords."

Baroque Ensembles (Longy School of Music, Cambridge)

"Through taking this course I was able to improve my knowledge and skill in interpretation of French Baroque music, which demands a special style and playing technique. Also, I enjoyed becoming acquainted with the work of a composer previously unknown to me."

Musical Instruction, Consort of Viols (Longy School of Music, Cambridge)

"Through taking this course I was able to significantly improve my playing technique for English consort music, and learned new repertoire that I hope to return to in the future."

Professional Certification

Pharmacy Technician Program (InterCoast Colleges/InterCoast Career Institute of NH)

Includes courses in Professional Development, Pharmacy Fundamentals, Pharmacy Compounding, Pharmacy Calculations, Sterile Product Preparation, Health Care Fundamentals, Anatomy and Physiology, and Pharmacology with completion of externship training.

Drums Alive Teacher Certificate Course (Colby-Sawyer College)

"This exercise and training is improving my physical health, as well as neurological wellbeing. Both of them together are a mind/body experience, and are greatly enhanced by the rhythmical drumming patterns. With the instructor's training, I hope to share this with others of all ages."

Health Coach Training Program (Institute for Integrative Nutrition; online course)

"I think you can see that the issue of improving the health of our children is of vital importance/interest to me. I thank the Institute of Integrative Nutrition for giving me a venue to work in this area as a Certified Health Coach in my community."

Zentangle Teacher Seminar

"The course covered the philosophy of Zentangle, the basics of drawing "tangles", based on five basic strokes, Zentangle as a business, and tips on teaching methods and tools... I am thankful that I had the opportunity to become certified and hope that I can use this method to help myself and others in the future."

Other Studies

Fundamental Theology (Theological Institute at St. John's Seminary)

"This is not a course in which you learned a skill, but more one in which, if you are a person of faith, it had the effect of deepening that faith as a result of the depth of knowledge it presented. It clarified basic theological concepts of which you have had limited knowledge. I audited this course, which was good since the written assignments required a different style of writing than what I was used to in my work."

Leadership Embodiment (Watertown Center for the Healing Arts, Watertown)

"[During Feldenkrais method fitness training], I also was impressed with the Leadership Embodiment portion of the class, which taught ways to change posture and body position to increase overall confidence and reduce stress. I found that these exercises significantly improved my work productivity."


The Psychology of Strong Characters (Grub Street, Boston)

"This class was extremely helpful in taking characters in stories I'm working on and bringing them to the next level. I now have tools I can use to make the characters unique, make their actions more compelling, and make their motivations more interesting to readers."

The Messy Essay (Grub Street, Boston)

"By the end of this class, I had a clear understanding of what a narrative essay is and some points to keep in mind when working on one."

Epiphany and a Side Order of Meaning (Grub Street, Boston)

In this seminar geared toward writers of personal essay and memoir, we'll examine the work of authors who do it well…We'll discuss ways of working and revising that can help you unlock your own personal truths, and we'll try our hand at different writing exercises designed to get you working in that direction. (Course description)

Happy Neurons: Writing Sensory Detail That's Truly Sensory (Grub Street, Boston)

"I continue to work on my own creative writing and this class gave me some more tools to work with and also taught me how to use them wisely."

Basics of Writing Book Reviews (Grub Street, Boston)

"I would like to go back to writing book reviews, something I did extensively earlier in my career... I left feeling I had the skills and confidence to move forward with approaching editors and developing a reputation again."

Basics of Writing Book Reviews (Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Cambridge)

"The instructor combined both blogging and social media into one, packed presentation. I am in the process of building a website and marketing myself as a freelance writer... the strategies were invaluable..."

Writing from Your Own Experience (Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Cambridge)

"I took the course because, as an experienced science journalist, I wanted to learn how to incorporate personal stories, including my own, into my writing, as a way of making science topics more compelling and accessible."

Hand-built butter dishHand-built butter dish

Demilune oblique tableCrafted by Bruce Wedlock, this mahogany demilune table has a curved apron with birdseye maple veneer. The legs are decorated with sand-shaded oval fans and bellflowers. The diamond banding and holly stringing are typical of the Federal period.

Hand-built octagon boxHand-built octagon box

Marble tableAlso by Bruce, this curved apron table is made from cherry. The legs are inlaid with cocobolo panels, a Central American hardwood and holly stringing. The top is marble.

Wheel-thrown red tea setWheel-thrown red tea set

Massachusetts Institute of Technology