Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Student profile

Penney and Ray Seider are two Florida Atlantic University students heading to their next class. Like many others, they wear white sneakers and black backpacks. What sets them apart is their age. The Seiders are 77.

The Seiders, who describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” are participants of FAU’s 60+ Audit Program. This program offers those over the age of 60 the opportunity to audit college courses without charge, if space is available. Senior citizens have a special registration day following enrolled-student registration. The auditing students are considered guests in the classrooms and their participation is minimal.

I caught up with Mr. and Mrs. Seider in the Cafeteria as they shared a tuna-fish sandwich and drank coffee with milk. They said they have been attending classes at FAU two days a week for the last four years. This semester the Seiders are auditing two courses, U.S. History to 1877 and U.S. History Since 1877. History and political science are their favorite courses.

The Seiders arrive on campus around 10 a.m. on class days. That gives them enough time to read the newspaper and have a cup of coffee before the first class. They remain on campus until about four each afternoon.

The Seiders say the professors treat them well. “We have had very good experiences so far.” They say that Dr. Walid Phares, associate professor of political science, told them they are “always welcome” in his classes, and Dr. Marianne Sauna, assistant professor of Judaic studies, said she is “glad to have them.”

“We try not to be intrusive. We usually just listen, but if we feel we have something to contribute, we will raise our hand and, if recognized by the professor, we will speak,” Seider adds.

The students “accept us and really listen when we say something,” Mrs. Seider says, “because our experiences come from real life, not a textbook.”

The Seiders, who have been married 52 years, retired to South Florida from Long Island, N.Y., in 1974. A few years later, they began taking classes at Broward Community College where Mrs. Seider, a former court reporter, earned her associate’s degree in art.

Mrs. Seider describes her art by saying, “My paintings have a Georgia O’Keefe style, but I paint other things besides flowers.”

She had an exhibit, titled “Imaginative Interpretation: A Collection of Acrylic Paintings,” that was recently displayed at the Delray Beach Public Library.

Seider, a World War II Navy veteran and retired manufacturer’s representative, first studied liberal arts. “I have enough credits to have graduated twice,” he says, but he had trouble with the math courses. “At this point in my life, I don’t need the piece of paper,” Seider says, and he moved on to courses that he found more stimulating.

The Seiders have attended classes at the Senior Summer Program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, every summer since they heard about the program four years ago.

The Seiders have a daughter, Susan, who has given them three grandsons: Joshua, 20, and twins Jake and Sam, 18. They live in Connecticut.

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