Big Ten Retirees Association


Minutes of the Second Meeting
August 30-31, 1993, Michigan League, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Attendance: Michigan State University: Erling Jorgensen; Ohio State University: John T. Mount, James R. Roesch, Chalmer G. Hixson; Pennsylvania State University: Arthur M. Wellington and Opal Wellington; Purdue University: Margaret M. Conte, Samuel D. Conte, Mr. & Mrs. Richard W. McDowell; University of Michigan: Frederick Beutler, Ella Grenier, Marjorie Jackson, Wilfred Kaplan, Cecil Nesbitt, Lillian Ostrand; University of Minnesota: Paul Cartwright.

First Session, Morning of August 30
Marjorie Jackson, Secretary

     Welcome. At 10:00 a.m., W. Kaplan opened the morning session with a welcome from the University of Michigan. Directions were given for the luncheons at the Michigan League, dinner that evening, and a tour of the campus.

     Agenda and Minutes of 1992 Meeting. The proposed agenda was approved, as were the minutes of the First Annual Meeting, held in the Fawcett Center at Ohio State University. C. Hixson sounded a note of caution about the accuracy of the minutes. Although the 1992 meeting was taped, identification of the speaker or the university were often problematic for the recording secretary. W. Kaplan offered to help for the part of the meeting he attended, by providing his notes, which did keep track of the university, if not the speaker's name; his offer was welcomed.

     Big Eleven Survey. The Survey of the Big Eleven Retiree Associations, compiled by W. Kaplan. was distributed to the group. The University of Wisconsin did not respond, while Iowa and Northwestern have identified no organization on their campuses.

     Special Report, University of Minnesota. P. Cartwright presented an informative report on activities of the University of Minnesota's Retirees' Association, Inc. The Association is affiliated with a Retirees Volunteer Center, a group of 50 volunteer associations, with office on the St. Paul Campus, but with no financial or formal relationship with the University. However, the Office of the President of the University of Minnesota does provide approximately $5,000 a year to the U of MN's Retiree Association. The Association's assets are therefore stable. Dues are ten dollars for an individual and fifteen dollars for a family membership. The 1,030 membership is not limited to faculty (80%). but includes state civil service staff (10%) and administrators (5%).
     The activities of the Volunteer Center are broad and varied: tutoring, ushering, bloodmobile, a newspaper, and are primarily non-academic. In view of the wide range of activities by the retiree-volunteers, concern about legal liability is an issue. The U of MN is self-insured, with the retirees purportedly included under the University coverage.
     E. Jorgensen and P. Cartwright proposed a joint project: each association should research the liability status of their retirees as volunteers. The information will be sent to the University of Michigan for collection and dissemination. A formal vote approved of this course of action.

     Special report, Purdue University. M. Conte gave an enthusiastic and instructive account of an adventure in elderhostel innovation. In 1993, Purdue Retirees' Committee on Service and Outreach planned and successfully implemented 5 classes in the spring. The endeavor was so popular that 8 classes are planned for the fall of 1993.
     A formal organization emerged, called WALLA, with a $50 membership entitling members to attend any or all classes. The striking innovations are a collaboration with the Park and Recreation Department of the community and use of community facilities. Courses are given by Purdue University professors and staff who enjoy eager, mature and unusual students.
     Public relations activities are unusual, such as distributing information to Mall Walkers, Senior groups, Credit Unions, banks and public libraries. A University library card is provided for classes and a new interaction between Purdue University and the surrounding community is emerging.
     At 12:00 noon, adjournment for lunch did not interrupt conversation about this venture.

Second Session, Afternoon of August 30
Ella Grenier, Secretary

     Report of Arthur Wellington for the Faculty/Staff Club of Pennsylvania State University.
     A. Wellington opened the afternoon session at 2 p.m. with a report on indigents in retiree associations. The discussion was concerned with retirees in critical need who were living on very small pensions and may not have social security. Enrollment in social security was optional at one time (e.g., Ohio State University offered none for some years). Also pensions did not offer COLA. A. Wellington said that at retirement he had a $5000 insurance policy from Penn. State. and another $5000 private policy, and that was all he was allowed to have. He noted that Penn. State has the oldest retiree association of the Big Eleven institutions.
     Some years ago Penn. State was given a $40,000 endowment, whose Income was expendable to assist indigent Penn. State retirees. The fund is administered by three trustees and the Club Treasurer, and the grants are from $1 to $1000. A written request to the chairperson of the committee is required for grants. The problem has been that no grants have been requested. It is assumed that the retirees in the relatively small community are to proud to seek the available assistance. Accordingly, the fund has grown to $70,000.
     It was suggested that perhaps people in need could be found through the local nursing homes. No help was received from their Council on Aging.
     There was a question of universities paying for life insurance, since social security pays only $250 after death, which is not even enough for burial. However, Penn. State is feeling the pinch of people taking early retirement and thereby receiving considerably larger pensions. Also more people will be staying on beyond 65 in the future and then retiring at a larger pension.
     Many retirees are feeling the reduction in TIAA payments. Another problem is the increase in health care costs.
     W. Kaplan reported that the Univ. of Michigan some years ago made an extra payment to retirees without social security. E. Jorgensen said that this has occurred twice at Mich. State Univ. Ohio State Univ. has started an endowment to help needy retirees. At Purdue the retirement benefits are read at the annual banquet for retirees. It was noted that indigent retirees with serious medical problems can be helped by Medicaid.

     Future plans. It was moved, seconded and voted to meet next year at the University of Minnesota on August 29 and 30. It was also voted to create a steering committee to manage affairs of the organization. The committee would consist of the presidents of three associations: the past host, the present host and the future host. Thus for now the associations at Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of Minnesota and Michigan State University would be represented (it being assumed that Mich. State would be the host in 1995). It was also agreed to call the organization the Committee of the Big Eleven Retiree Associations.
     Proposals were made to learn more about the Committee on Inter-institutional Cooperation (CIC),which is concerned with the administrative and academic affairs of the Big Ten universities and the Univ. of Chicago. It was also proposed to learn more about its Council of Presidents: when they meet and who is the present chair.

     The Minnesota and Mich. State delegates said they wished to stay independent of their university administrations, but Purdue is closely tied to the administration and the Ohio association meets two times a year with their presidents, past and elected, their provost and legal advisor.
     It was agreed to delay preparation of by-laws for the organization.
     It was urged that information about CIC, liability and health care be shared as soon as possible.

Third Session, Morning of August 31
Frederick Beutler, Secretary

     Discussion of the Survey. The session opened at 9 a.m. Comments were made on the survey items, both as to stated responses, and on refinement of the survey questions. It was urged that each participant take the copy of the Survey home and check his/her institution's response as to accuracy. In this regard, the following were noted:

     Change Item 3 to call for phone number and office held, officers (if not contact persons) and professorial titles. Modify Item 4 to request identification of office dealing with retirees. Combine Items 6 and 7, phrasing membership queries in free form reflective of the variety of practices at various institutions.
     Revise Item 10 to allow for differently structured retiree organizations, some of which may have no governing board. Add a question on members of an executive board. Clarify questions on frequency of meetings and staff support. Rephrase Item 11.
     With respect to Item 13, MS and OS noted that they organized annual meetings for retirees in Florida. In fact, OS sends down a representative to run the meeting program. Since many retirees move to Florida, this idea met with enthusiastic response. It was pointed out that requesting retirees' permanent and seasonal addresses (with dates) made such a meeting feasible.
     Item 24 should be deleted. Items 32 and 33 have caused much confusion and should be revised to request information on pre-retirement programs and nature of the retirement plan (also, redundantly, requested in Item 25).
     UM will send out a revised questionnaire form. New responses will be requested in the light of the revisions. All current responses should be reviewed for accuracy.

     Mission statement. P. Cartwright proposed that it would be appropriate to draft a mission statement for the Committee of the Big Eleven Retiree Associations. It was suggested that relevant items should be exchange of information, development of services to retirees and service by retirees to their institutions. The MS Newsletter statement (see vol. 14, no. 3, p. 3) was mentioned by E. Jorgensen as a possible model. It was proposed that acting as an advocate for retirees should be included, and "inter-institutional communication among the members" be regarded as a key phrase.
     It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously that John Mount of OS be requested to draft a mission statement.

     Special report from Michigan State University. This was presented by E. Jorgensen. He called attention to the Spring 1993 Newsletter, p. 7, which contained an official statement on a policy for post-retirement opportunities, which would encourage retirees to provide ongoing support to the University. This policy has led to negotiated arrangements that allow faculty to continue as before, but without pay. These retired faculty now constitute an important resource.
     C. Hixson pointed out that continued activity promotes retiree happiness and longevity. R. McDowell mentioned Faculty Fellows, who serve at PU residence halls, interacting with the students there in many informal ways; both active and retired faculty serve in this capacity. He added that PU presidents have taken an active interest in retiree well being.

     Special report from University of Michigan. This was presented by Professor Stephen Darwall, who recently chaired a committee on the effects of ending mandatory retirement at the University. [The State of Michigan in 1991 passed a law ending mandatory retirement for tenured professors] His committee considered systemic issues, such as demographic effects, as well as individual issues, such as senility.
     He remarked that his committee had considered the provision of more privileges for retirees, to attain a closer connection to the University. He said that periodic tenure review (say, at 5 year intervals) was considered, but rejected as being a superstructure burdensome to already stressed faculty.
     He quoted a University of Chicago study by Stigler that had investigated the retention rate each year between ages 65 and 70, and had thus arrived at an estimate that (at Chicago) between 8.3% and 12.5% of the faculty is expected to be between the ages of 70 and 80 by the year 2006. Chicago is considering various phased retirement plans (buy-outs) as incentives to retire. The University is also considering capping their contribution to pensions, if that can be accomplished legally.
     Using Stigler's model and UM statistics yields a comparable figure of from 8.3% to 12.5%. Actual experience at UM since 1991 indicates that 42% of faculty chose to continue after age 70. If this is indicative of the retention rate, then by the year 2006 UM will have from 6% to 8% of faculty between the ages of 70 and 80. The UM retention rate was also studied by a questionnaire sent to UM faculty; thc result predicts an annual retention rate of 58%, with an estimated 5.8% to 9.6% being between 70 and 80 in 2006. [The questionnaire, which asked about plans for retirement, did not take into account prospective mortality or changes in plans due to declining health or energy.]
     At UM, the number of faculty over 60 increased by 35% in the past decade, suggesting that there might be a scarcity of young scholars for replacement. This effect is countered by those postponing retirement, as well as the downsizing at some institutions.
     Extended discussion followed this presentation. It was noted that retirement decisions are partially fueled by finances, such as prospective income and the effects of inflation. Nevertheless, it was emphasized that non-financial factors were an important consideration in the decision to retire. These include privileges such as office space and secretarial support and, more generally, continuation of status as a faculty member. However, retirement needs vary widely, with some faculty wishing to continue as before, and others finding fulfillment in a variety of activities unrelated to their university role.
     F. Beutler indicated that there should be little hardship if a university capped contributions to pensions after 35 years of service, as numerical studies have shown. P. Cartwright suggested that such a change might violate an implied employment contract; however, one could apply such a policy to new faculty, anticipating long-range savings. W. Kaplan mentioned that benefits intended as incentives to retire must legally be available to all retirees.
     Several present who had retired in the 1970s pointed out that their annuities were based on the salaries of that time, when less comprehensive policies were in place. [Certain institutions did not participate in the social security system, so that some retirees are not receiving social security income.] This has led to considerable financial hardship for many older retirees.
     Session closure. J. Mount moved that the group express its appreciation to UM for its presentation. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
P. Cartwright moved that UM receive an expression of appreciation for hosting the entire meeting. This motion was also seconded and carried unanimously.

Last Session, Afternoon of August 31
Wilfred Kaplan, Secretary

     The session, which began at 1:15 p.m., was devoted to an informal discussion of plans for future activities. W. Kaplan asked whether the time schedule of the annual meeting could be rearranged to shorten the total time, for example, by starting later on the first day, so that only one overnight would be required. He also mentioned again the idea of a meeting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chicago airport; this idea was not supported. However, it was agreed that polling of the institutions about meeting format would be helpful.
     It was agreed that for 1994 health insurance would be a major topic, and it would be good if each institution could send an administrator to the meeting. The CIC link might help in this. It was suggested that a panel discussion, involving administrators, would be helpful.
     The idea of an invited outside speaker was discussed. It was agreed that this would be good only if the speaker confined his talk to a narrow issue, e.g., health care.
     It was suggested that the questionnaire also request fax numbers. E-mail was discussed, but apparently it is not yet widely used by members.
     C. Hixson told of an organization: the Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees. It is concerned with state support for the universities. He discussed some of the political battles for control of higher education in Ohio.
     The session and meeting adjourned at 2:15 p.m.

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