University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Retirees Association
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University of Minnesota Retirees Association.


Retiree Activities

LINKS to Sections Below:

Synopsis of UMRA Activities
Service Engagement Committee Reports
Photo Club
Book Club
Strategic Planning Activities 2013
Retiree Encore Reports

Synopsis of UMRA Activities

At monthly luncheons throughout the academic year, members renew long-standing friendships with former colleagues, make new acquaintances, and strengthen a sense of connection with the university community. Each month speakers from within and outside the university address a variety of scholarly, informative, and entertaining topics. Luncheons are currently held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Campus Club.

At a general luncheon meeting each spring, members elect association officers and conduct other business. Each year, UMRA invites new faculty and staff retirees to join the organization and seeks ways to encourage existing members to participate in association activities. Membership Form (Word document).

In addition to this website, UMRA publishes a monthly newsletter reporting on association activities and providing information on health care issues, alumni activities, Regents’ decisions, and other matters of interest to the membership.

UMRA actively promotes improvements in faculty and staff retirement benefits. UMRA also tracks discussions of and seeks improvements in health insurance coverage for retirees. Additional descriptions of UMRA activites are given in the section called Member Benefits and How to Join Back


Photo Club

The UMRA Photo Club meets monthly on the last Friday of each month (1 to 3 p.m.). Upcoming meetings are March 28, April 25. New members are welcome. The group meets at Hennepin County Library, St. Anthony branch, and often goes to lunch beforehand. To learn more, please contact Vic Bloomfield,, or Jean Kinsey,

Learn about digital photography equipment and concepts, exchange information and ideas, participate in photographic outings, and share photographs, all in a non-competitive, fun, friendly atmosphere.

WAG - Weisman Art GallerySome months, when the weather is good, we may go as a group to an interesting location in the Twin Cities to take photos; share ideas about effective seeing, composition, and technique; and conclude with light refreshments. 

At other times, we will gather to share photos (often from our trips to interesting places around the world), hear educational presentations, and socialize.

. Back

Book Club

TThe UMRA Book Club was founded in March of 2011.  It meets at 2 p.m. on the third Friday of every month at 1666 Coffman near the St. Paul campus. 

Both fiction and non-fiction books are chosen by our members.  Recent books we’ve read include HOME by Toni Morrison, MY BELOVED WORLD by Sonia Sotomayor, and BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS by Katherine Boo, a book about modern India.  We were interested to see that Katherine Boo is a guest lecturer in the University’s English Department this fall. 

For the September 20th meeting, the book to be discussed is Madeleine Albright’s PRAGUE WINTER with Laura Hillenbrand’s UNBROKEN scheduled for October.  The November book will be MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson.  Books for 2014 will be planned at the upcoming meetings.  No meeting is planned for December.  We happily welcome new members. 

--Contact Pat Tollefson,, for more information. Back

President's Column, September 2013

Big trends confront us: How should UMRA respond? The world surrounding non-profit volunteer organizations is changing. Some fail to attract new members. Others have members but lack willing leaders. Some face financial challenges; some overlook their missions and lose their way. Meanwhile, critics question whether tax-exempt, non-profit service organizations should exist all (StarTribune, 18 Aug 2013), even as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits vigorously defends them (StarTribune, 26 Aug 2013).

UMRA leadership is assessing what these trends mean for our organization. I consider the tax-exempt issue as a sideshow, but other trends are serious. Michael J. Sandel (What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2012) argues that at an earlier time we were a society containing a market economy, but now we are becoming a market society. He asks “how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?” Sandel’s analysis helps me understand the larger forces that will influence UMRA’s future.

Most of us remember a time when service professions (i.e., health care, education, law, banking and finance, insurance, government, etc.) were mainly about providing service to the individual and the community — rather than about money. Service professionals enjoyed high levels of community esteem, while foregoing market-level compensation for significant job security.

But today many demand both. After WWII the number of governments in the U.S.—federal, state, county, local, and special districts—proliferated (over 90,000 today), and government employees emerged as a political interest group. As money devoted to health care began expanding with Medicare (1965), it led inevitably to today’s fights over who gets the money, diverting attention away from improving national health. Meanwhile college graduates flood law schools as careerism steadily displaces serving the community. Even the U.S. military moved away from the draft as a national service model to a volunteer market-based recruiting model (1973).

We’ve lived this in higher education. As Baby Boom children came to school, they expanded demand for teachers, for trainers of teachers, and for trainers of the trainers — i.e., many UMRA members. We who became professors in the 1960s discovered (unexpectedly) that we could do well (financially) by doing good (teaching, scholarship, outreach). It was hard not to relish our good fortune.

But as compensation kept rising and job security persisted, we’ve become aware of a downside: higher education no longer enjoys the public esteem and support of earlier decades. Like government, health care, law, elements of banking and finance, and other service sectors, higher education too often appears aloof and self-serving, unconcerned with efficiency, effectiveness, high tuition, student debt, maturity and employability of graduates, and community service.

Diagnosing a problem is one thing; doing something about it is another.

At UMRA’s recent leadership retreat (agenda below), we reviewed our mission, assessed the past year, examined programs for alignment with mission, and identified ways to attract and retain the next generation of University retirees in light of trends outlined above. We also discussed our status as an independent non-profit organization, and we debated potential partnership arrangements with the University.

UMRA is a University resource, so how do we help? Send me your thoughts.

— John S. Adams, UMRA President

(Additional documents relevant to planning will be posted here.) Back

Retiree Encores

August 2012, November 2012, January 2013


These reports from UMRA members were collected in web surveys beginning in August, 2012, again in October, and from November 1 to January 2013.This is part of our attempt to document retiree professional contributions, especially service to the U of MN, and remarkable events of special interest to fellow retirees. The UMRA Board endorsed this ongoing compilation of information.

Member opinions on this report would be appreciated, e.g., to what extent does this information serve a useful function and in what ways can it be used, e.g., as evidence of the potential contributions retirees can offer the University? If there is valuable information from the survey and it will help us in some way in the future, how might the questions be improved and in what order should they appear?


January 2013 Report

November 2012 Report

August 2012 Report




Group lunch.


The UMRA Committee on Service Engagement

has chosen the following recipients for three 2013 UMRA Awards for service, to be recognized at the May 28 annual Meeting.


Award for Service to UMRA: Judy Leahy Grimes

UMRA members know Judy as the efficient volunteer who, after participJudy Leahy Grimes and Julia Wallaceating in our “revolving reservations management” for a couple of years, stepped up to take responsibility as full-time reservationist for 2012-13. This has been an invaluable service.

Judy goes about her work with such quiet grace that few of us realize just what it takes to manage the reservations. She handles 75 to 100 reservations and payments every month, which sometimes involves dozens of phone calls, letters, and emails. At luncheons she manages the sign-in desk and name tags, greets members, and provides the list of new members and visitors to the president for his anouncements. Besides this critical role she also is volunteering to play a key role in the preparation for UMRA’s hosting of the AROHE conference in 2014.

Award for Service to the University: Paul Rosenblatt

Although he retired two years ago, Paul John Adams with Paul RosenblattRosenblatt not only continues to go into his office every day to write and do research, but he also continues in service to his department and its community of faculty and students. He is still advising five doctoral students, serving on the committees of 15 other grad students, and mentoring other students informally. In addition, he offers freely of his time to consult with colleagues about research and teaching problems.

He is an exemplary role model for retirees who want to keep their professional networks and provide help as needed to their department communities, asking for no direct reward in return. His books on families, couples, race relations, and grief—all still in print—provide an indirect service to a vast number of individuals and families around the world.

Award for Service to the Community: Gary C. McVey

Gary McVey and Ron AndersonAfter retiring in 1996 from teaching at the University of Minnesota-Crookston and as a scientist at the Northwest Experiment Station, Gary McVey continued to teach and consult until 1999. That year he and his wife embarked on a 14-year association with the Evangelical Lutheran Church Mission Builders, first in construction, and then pre-construction and design consulting with churches and camps.

Also active with the Habitat for Humanity Chapter in Kerr County, Texas, he helped build 25 homes and served on the local Habitat’s board of directors. Since his retirement he has volunteered 3,428 hours to Habitat to Humanity home construction and 5,440 hours to the Mission Builder construction projects, a total of 8,868 hours.

For the past five years he and his wife Nancy have delivered Meals on Wheels. In 2011 he helped establish the Marines Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht AMVET Post 1000 (Jacob was the 1000th soldier killed in Afghanistan) and served as vice commander for two years.

This extraordinary record of volunteering makes Gary C. McVey eminently suitable for the UMRA award for service to the Community.

— Victor Bloomfield, chair,
UMRA Service Engagement Committee