Veteran Instructor Donates to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Kevin Staff
Kevin Staff says he is impressed by people who never stop

When Kevin Staff considers he has taught English as a second language (ESL) for nearly 35 years, he is impressed by people who never stop learning. That’s why he decided to donate posthumously 20 percent of his estate to SDSU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) for individuals 50 years of age and better.

“I believe in lifelong learning and using your mind,” he said. “If you don’t use it, it atrophies.”

Staff is a native San Diegan and sees this community as “a very special place.” He graduated in 1973 from Crawford High School, just up the road from SDSU.

During six subsequent years working in administration for the U.S. Army, he first earned an associate’s degree from George Washington University. Later, he completed night courses while in the military and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland in Frankfurt, Germany.


Kevin Staff
Kevin Staff has taught English as a second language (ESL) for 35

Staff then studied abroad one year in Peru as an SDSU graduate student in linguistics before teaching in Sapporo, Japan, from 1984-87. From there, he spent a year helping establish an ESL program in Guadalajara, Mexico, before spending the next eight years teaching primarily to Panasonic employees in Osaka, Japan.

After a year of being “semi-retired” in Prescott, Ariz., he came back to San Diego for good in 1997, spending his first summer teaching at SDSU’s American Language Institute. He taught at Palomar College from 1997-2015 and currently is teaching at Cuyamaca College, where he has been since 2002.

During it all, the Aztec for Life alumni member never forgot about SDSU. Staff discussed his possible donation with the SDSU Alumni Association before deciding that OLLI was the best way to go.

“When I turned 60 last year, it was time to draw up my living trust,” he said. “I was aware that OLLI existed at SDSU. To me, this was something good to do.”


Kevin Staff
Kevin Staff will leave part of his estate to SDSU’s Osher Lifelong
Learning Institute.

According to Staff, he would like to possibly organize a religious workshop each year through OLLI. His mother, an active member at the family’s lifelong church of Faith Presbyterian, worked as a secretary in the School of Social Work at SDSU.

“At Cuyamaca College, I am teaching Chaldean Christians alongside Muslims,” he said. “For the most part, they try to get along. They all left places that are not good.

“Different religions seem to have similarities. Can’t we all agree to disagree and get along?”

By leaving part of his legacy through OLLI at SDSU, Staff will help ensure that people 50 and better have a place for great classes and discussions.

OLLI at SDSU offers a vibrant and diverse learning community for adults 50 and better, with intellectually stimulating, university-quality courses and engaging leadership and volunteer opportunities. To learn more visit, call 619-594-2863, or email