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
The Photo Club will be meeting this fall on the third Friday of each month. Most meetings are at the Hennepin County St. Anthony Public Library (2941 Pentagon Dr., N.E., St. Anthony) from 1 to 3 p.m.
All are welcome. The agenda for most meetings is sharing photos, photo tips, and ideas, and a large dose of good fellowship. Sometimes we gather at a Twin Cities location for a photo shoot.
Please contact Craig Swan, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jean Kinsey, email@example.com so we will know to expect you and can add your name to the contact list for updated information. See you at our next meeting for fun, fellowship and fotos..
In July and August of 2014, we read and discussed a nonfiction book by Peter Godwin about Zimbabwe named WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN and a novel by Jamie Ford named HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.
Upcoming books include BEWARE OF PITY by Stefan Zweig for September, BLACK, WHITE, BLUE by William Swanson for October, and DEAFENING by Canadian author, Frances Itani, for November. So far we’ve had an interesting mix of fiction and non- fiction books chosen by each of us members who then act as discussion leader for their book.
Our 2015 book list will be created at our November meeting with no meeting planned for December. We happily welcome new members.
--Contact Pat Tollefson, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
Six years ago in September, 2008, I wrote my first column for this newsletter. I had just become UMRA president, and I reviewed the accomplishments of the previous year. The contributions of the three presidents who served before me (Gayle Graham Yates, Frank Miller, and John Howe) had been substantial, even intimidating to a new president. Those contributions were intended to bring the University and its retirees closer together.
The Professional Development Grants Program was launched that year with a $10,000 donation from UMRA’s small treasury. John Howe, working with several other UMRA members, made the rounds to the University president and vice presidents to demonstrate that retirees still had much to contribute toward University research efforts. Convinced, the central officers donated $40,000 to the program that year.
As the program matured, the Vice President for Research, the Graduate School, and the Foundation cooperated with UMRA in “Still Driven to Discover.” In 2014 the program made its fiftieth grant out of approximately 70 requests. Although still funded with soft money, the program continues with contributions from the office of the Vice President for Research.
Also in 2007, the University Senate had discussed and approved a “Resolution on Retiree Benefits.” The provisions of the Senate action urged the University to take several steps to further engage retirees in the life of the University. Although overwhelmingly adopted by the Senate, the implementation of the recommendations would depend on the University administration—some recommendations were carried out, and some were not.
UMRA’s partner, the University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC) has, for years, carried on a vigorous program of service to the University and broader community. University volunteers have donated time to reading student applications to the honors program, ushering at events, serving as jurors at mock trials, mentoring international students, participating as research subjects, assisting at blood donation centers and working at food pantries. In this past year, nearly 200 volunteers contributed over 7,000 hours to these and other projects.
Another evidence of collaboration between UMRA and the University was their hosting, in August, of two conferences of retiree associations: the Big Ten Retirees Association and the National Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE). Partial funding for both conferences was provided by President Kaler’s office.
The conferences are described by past president John Adams on page 5 of this newsletter. They were well attended and UMRA members, led by president John Adams and past president John Anderson, did yeoman (and woman) service to make the conferences and programs successful. The underlying theme of both conferences was exploring ways of developing synergy between universities and their retirees.
The retiree programs represented a wide range of these synergies, from distant relationships between retiree organizations and their institutions to their integration with various university offices. A cursory look at the description of many of these relationships indicates that ours is similar to many: cordial but not integrated. Those close to the institutions enjoy financial support with staff members devoted to retirees.
One of the most expansive retiree organizations at the conferences was the University of Southern California with several full-time staff members who are part of the university budget. Michigan, as Minnesota, operates as a non-profit entity. Several Big Ten and other retiree organizations are part of, or are linked to, the human resources departments of their institutions.
Most recently UMRA has been making an effort to enhance that synergy at the U of M. During his presidential term, John Adams has worked hard to accomplish that. Showing ways that retirees, in general and UMRA in particular, can contribute toward the mission of the University, he has developed relationships with President Kaler, Provost Hanson, Vice President for Human Resources Brown, the University Foundation, the Alumni Association, several members of the Board of Regents, and deans of colleges. During the year ahead, I hope we will be able to keep moving toward even stronger ties with the University.