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Each study group – there are about 25 different ones each term – usually consists of 14 participants. A volunteer Coordinator acts as the group leader, but everyone has the opportunity to lead, to learn and to participate in the discussions. The groups meet for two-hours during the day each week for 14 weeks. Each member becomes the discussion leader for one meeting and is responsible for an in-depth investigation of some aspect of the course topic. Reading materials are recommended or provided for each week so that all members are prepared to join in lively, well-informed, provocative meetings that make for a truly engaging learning experience.


Typically, a PLATO member participates in one Study/Discussion Group in each of the three terms each year. Some seven-week courses are available to accommodate travel schedules. There are no academic requirements, age limits, grades or exams. Not all members have college degrees; some have multiple ones. All have the desire to learn about subjects they know little or nothing about or to deepen their knowledge of familiar topics.

Topics are proposed by members and submitted to the Curriculum Committee, which creates the schedule. While the schedule changes each term, some courses are repeated by popular demand.

Only a limited number of new members can be accepted each year due to space restrictions. 
Therefore, an application for membership does not guarantee admission to The PLATO Society.
Applications are accepted at any time. Interviews are scheduled a month or two prior to the start of each term.
click here for the photos and bios of those who have just joined.
Tuition is $485 per year, which entitles you to all the benefits and opportunities of membership.  A few events
( The PLATO Retreat, Holiday Party, daylong Milhaupt Seminar and Day Trips ) may require additional fees. 

How to apply

you may print out the application and mail it  to The  PLATO SOCIETY , 1083 Gayley Avenue – 2nd floor, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1333.  
You may also fax it to (310) 310-443-7709


When your application has been received, you will be called to set up an interview, where you will talk with a few typical PLATO members. They will answer your questions and have a chance to learn more about you, while you see the PLATO facilities and learn more about the nature of your participation. Most applicants sit in on a Study/Discussion Group prior to registering. We want to be sure that you are comfortable about PLATO and ready to join.

When you are accepted, you would usually start at the beginning of the next term (first weeks of January, May and September). 
A payment of $485 for 12 months (payable by check, Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover) is required for registration.  A new member orientation is held just prior to the start of the new term.



Adapted from a reminiscence by Charter Member, Ed Bressler

Past Presidents of the PLATO Society of UCLA PLATO was, and still is, a product of the mind and for the mind. The idea for PLATO came in 1980 from the mind of Liz Cless, who developed the feasibility study that led to the founding. Rosemary Park and UCLA Extension’s Dean Leonard Freedman, along with Liz Cless, cultivated and guided, monitored and mentored, so that the primary goal was always kept in mind: “To further the intellectual pursuits of our members.” Other important early players included Dr. Philip Frandson, Dr. and Mrs. Armand Hammer, Dr. Franklin Murphy, and Mrs. Yolande Chambers Adelson. What was PLATO like in the beginning? That’s easy – almost exactly as it is now, but with additional committees and the ancillary activities they facilitate.
The basic structure of coordinator-headed Study/Discussion Groups (S/DGs) has remained unchanged from day one. One feature that is significantly different is the philosophy behind the Colloquia. Today, these sessions cover a broad range of subjects and speakers designed to interest our members. Liz Cless saw Colloquia as a way that PLATO members, who had mostly been out of academic environs for decades, could catch up on the newest trends in various academic and intellectual endeavors, including cutting-edge research. Our speakers were exclusively the cream of UCLA’s faculty who often provided background reading to prepare for the talks. Another significant difference today is the annual Milhaupt Seminar which has grown into a major study of an issue with guest speakers as well as member discussions. Originally, these were simpler sessions not unlike our S/DGs but delving into a singular topic. The beginning of PLATO “on the ground” must include two sterling gentlemen, Art Milhaupt and Sam Young, both of whom served as presidents of PLATO. Art was a retired lumberman. He was a thorough autodidact and had an iron fist in a velvet glove. There was so much velvet that one was very rarely aware of the fist, but it was there the few times it was needed in those early years. We are indebted to Art for his willingness to take on the burden of the presidency for PLATO’s first two years. He was terrific in that role and also set a very high intellectual standard in the many S/DGs he coordinated. He is memorialized in the Milhaupt Seminars. Sam Young was a lovely human being. He was everywhere in PLATO, doing everything from leading sophisticated S/DGs on Biblical history and archaeology to heading an ad hoc group which read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, to moving the furniture, hanging the pictures and being a wonderful friend and pal to many many PLATO members. From such beginnings, it’s no surprise that we’ve grown into such a substantial and worthy organization!

Past presidents of the PLA TO Society of UCLA 1980-2013


1980-1982 Arthur Milhaupt 1982-83 Sam Young 1983-84 Francis A. Meyers 1984-85 Bernice Park 1985-86 Ray Buckley 1986-87 Arnold Varney 1987-88 Betty Young 1988-89 Ed Bressler 1989-90 Felicia Zeidenfeld 1990-91 Bill Carter 1991-92 Paula Menkin 1992-93 Eleanor Blumenberg 1993-94 Orville Golub 1994-95 Jack Carter 1995-96 Irene Mayer 1996-97 Karl Bouvier 1997-98 Addison Kermath 1998-99 Jerry Gallop 1999-00 Ruth Gussen 2000-01 Susan Siegel 2001-02 Gerry Watkins 2002-03 Linda Rice 2003-04 Art Bernstein 2004-05 Chris Holabird 2005-06 Maria Kornet 2006-07 Mimi Harris 2007-08 James Adler 2008-09 Bill Rohrer 2009-10 Ed Keane 2010-11 Harvey Kibel 2011-12 Carol Emerling Fred Goldberger 2012-13


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