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Adventures in learning

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ATTENDANCE GRADE:Over 70 North Manchester residents follow along with Professor David Waas’ lecture on Wednesday morning.
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A LIFE OF TEACHING:Retired Professor David Waas, 92, gives a lecture in his weekly Wednesday morning current events series, a free class that has been running for 36 years.

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

NORTH MANCHESTER — Every Wednesday, the Merritt Room in the Town Life Center in North Manchester fills ups, nearly running out of chairs for those eager to hear the next lecture from Professor David Waas.

Waas is a 92-year-old retired history professor from Manchester University. He started directing classrooms in 1949, earning his degree from Manchester before going on to get his Ph.D at the University of Illinois.

He’s taught in Colorado and served as a dean before coming back home again to Indiana, and in 1964 he started lecturing at Manchester where he taught history until he retired.

The lecture series started nearly 40 years ago as a free event on the college calendar, Waas said. It later came to Shepherd’s Center when the staff was looking for activities for residents over 55, and a former professor at the university recommended Waas host a class Wednesday mornings.

“There had been a old professor at Manchester who had an informal session in the union where he would just sit and talk (in a forum) like this,” he said. “So we proposed that as a Shepherd’s Center program. It started in 1982 and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Shepherd’s Center’s goal is to educate and empower local communities with educational activities like the lectures Waas has been giving for the last 36 years.

On Wednesday morning, he started at the French Revolution and made it to the 1960s within an hour, talking on ideologies like liberalism and conservatism and how they existed then and today. Discussions on Trevor Noah from “The Daily Show,” racism in different countries and ethnocentrist tendencies in today’s politics kept the Merritt Room lively until the hour was up.

Ruthann Angle, president of the Shepherd’s Center in North Manchester, said Waas’ talks are engaging and always bring in a good crowd.

“People who come here get an education and stimulating conversation,” she said. “That’s what we’re all about, and that’s what they’re taking away from this.”

Waas said the series is something he looks forward to each week.

“It keeps me alive,” he said smiling. “We come here to have a discussion on current events and it’s quite interesting.”

Waas will be speaking at the Town Life Center on the first floor in the Merritt Room next Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The activity is free and open to the public.