Robert Hartmann ’54 is one of the founders of Quest, a communal learning experience for retired and semi-retired adults in a relaxed and informal setting.

“After I retired, I needed a new focal point,” said Robert Hartmann ’54. For 35 years, Hartmann had put his Adelphi degree in Spanish to good use and carved out a successful career in international sales. His job had afforded him the opportunity to travel around the world setting up distribution channels for his company’s products. His career culminated in the role of vice president, international of Fieldcrest-Cannon Inc., a producer of towels, bed sheets, bath accessories, bath rugs, and furniture coverings.

When he retired in 1992, Hartmann longed to continue his education but could not find a program with the flexibility he was looking for. Rather than being discouraged by the restrictions and rigidity of available courses, Hartmann set out to create a program that could adapt to the lifestyle of non-traditional students like him.

In 1995, Hartmann, and other members of a New York-based academic program with whom he had collaborated, decided to initiate a platform for lifelong learning, exchanging ideas and developing new interests. Thus, Quest was founded. “Quest is a communal learning experience for retired and semi-retired adults in a relaxed and informal setting,” he said. “This is a program designed to expand students’ intellectual and social worlds.”

The members of Quest were able to secure the daytime facilities of the Center for Worker Education of the City College of New York. The facility includes three classrooms, an auditorium and lecture hall with computers set up in every room. The program, which is now part of the CUNY system, started out with 114 new members. Today, Quest has over 230 active members.

What makes the program so unique is that all of the classes at Quest are peer taught. “The students both teach and learn from each other,” said Hartmann of the more than 35-peer taught courses offered each semester. Hartmann, who is a student currently enrolled in the courses Turning Points in American History and Film Today, has also been the moderator of several classes including Reading Don Quixote, Women Spies of the United States, Famous Assassinations and Beginning Spanish.

“The variety of courses Quest offers gives students the opportunity to engage others in a multitude of topics,” said Hartmann. “We feel it’s important to have ‘unconventional’ classes. The goal is to offer students the chance to expand their knowledge on topics they are interested in but may never have had an opportunity to learn.”

Since Quest’s inception, Hartmann served as the organization’s president for two terms. He continues to provide his leadership, offering his time and experience on the governing council and various other committees.

“Quest has added another dimension to my life,” said Hartmann. “I’ve met many wonderful people, with whom I spend time with outside of the program.” In July 2016, he will be among the Quest members traveling to Ireland

“Adelphi is really where I became enthusiastic about receiving an education,” said Hartmann. “I’m happy that I’ve found a place where I can continue to learn.”

Published June 2016

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