As a self-proclaimed lifelong learner, College of Education Professor Catherine Pangan MS ’99 was looking to “scratch an itch with adult learners,” she says.

“I believe curiosity never ends,” says Pangan, who’s been finding new ways to connect with the Butler community since she joined the College in 2008. That same year, Pangan moved into Schwitzer Hall as a Faculty-in-Residence (FIR). More than 15 years later, living in the much upgraded Fairview Residence Hall with her family as the FIR, she’s the Director of New Education Academy, an Innovation Fellow, and now, in her newest project, Director of The Lifelong Learning Collaborative.

Before the pandemic caused a halt in some new initiatives, the Butler Innovation Lab was brainstorming new ways to connect Butler’s diverse community with that of the greater-Indianapolis population. When Pangan joined as an Innovation Fellow in 2021, this was a project she knew she wanted to jump on.

“I have a passion for learning!” Pangan exclaims. “We have so much expertise here and in the community that we want to provide alternative educational experiences in engaging ways.”

The goal was to offer these classes to anyone with interest, be it alumni groups, neighbors, or senior living communities. She talked to directors of similar extended learning programs at schools all over the country, researched the Smithsonian Lifelong Learning model, collaborated with Callie Wright, the Lead Project Manager in the Transformation Lab, and the Lifelong Learning Collaborative was born.

The courses and their commitments vary—some are one-hour lectures, some expert-led experiences or field trips, and some divided into four-part minicourses. Beginning summer 2023 and following the Butler semester calendar, there’s no shortage of offerings and no subject is off the table.

“I had the privilege of participating in the Butler Garden Tour through the Butler Lifelong Learning Collaborative this past summer,” recounts participant Tina Vawter. “Even though I have been a lifelong gardener, I learned so many valuable things during the tour that will help me to be a better steward of our small farm, flower, and vegetable garden spaces. Learning about alternatives to the use of pesticides and how to amend the soil for future plantings was so helpful. The Butler Garden is a beautiful reflection of the labor of love provided by so many who truly care about working together with nature, and who want to share this knowledge with future generations.”

“Seeing the joyful, engaged learning taking place has been so exciting,” says Pagan. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

For more about the Lifelong Learning Collaborative, as well as a listing of upcoming courses, visit