Big Ten Retirees Association


Annual Meeting August 24-26, 1997, The Pennsylvania State University

Planning for the August 1997 annual meeting at Penn State began a year earlier with the President, Jim Wright. Jim made the necessary reservations for the Nittany Lion Inn Alumni Lounge, guestrooms and meal arrangements. Special reservations and room rates were set for Sunday and Monday nights. Unfortunately, later on it was learned that the university representatives arriving by air could travel round trip from their respective home areas for about one third of the cost if they arrived on Saturday rather than on Sunday. When this was relayed to the PSRF/SC board members and committee chairs, there were numerous offers to host BEURA representatives for Saturday night lodging. This occurred in three instances when the Criders, Manevals and Zieglers hosted guests. Because of this problem with air travel costs, the hosts for 1998 in Illinois will consider the possibility of moving the annual meeting to a Sunday beginning.

In 1997 for the first time, ten universities were represented at the annual meeting. Wisconsin appeared for the first time and Northwestern still has no organization to be represented.

Early on Dr. Billie Willits, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, was contacted and she pledged the total support of her office to the BEURA annual meeting plans and execution. The work of Nancy Fultz and Mary Jo Livergood of the staff of the Office of Human Resources was of major importance to the success of this meeting. They followed up on all suggestions for speakers, contributions, meal arrangements, room reservations, entertainment, registration needs, etc. The major financial contributions for the meeting were:

The Penn State Alumni Association       $500

Penn State Federal Credit Union         $500

TIAA-CREF                             $l,000

Health America                        $l,000

Penn State University                 $l,000


Other contributions were received from Dr. Richard Craig (18 Ben Franklin geraniums), The Cat's Meow (centerpiece) and TIAA-CREF (imprinted 250 caps and 250 umbrellas) with the '97 Big 11 Retirees Association,

Also, for the first time, the annual meeting began with a three-hour reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday evening. All BEURA representatives and all PSRF/SC members were invited to this reception at no cost since it was underwritten by the Penn State Federal Credit Union. This event was attended by 18 BEURA reps, 59 PSRF/SC members and one Credit Union Rep. On Monday night there was a banquet to which all PSRF/SC members and guests were invited but for which all participants were charges $18.00. The attendees at the banquet included the l 8 BEURA reps, three from TIAA-CREF plus the speaker, and 36 PSRF/SC members. Since all meals were taken at the Nittany Lion Inn, there was no charge for the use of the meeting rooms.

The following comments are related to the meeting agenda as distributed to all attendees and recorded on Monday by Betty Blazer and on Tuesday by Jean Crider.

Monday 8:15 a.m. President Graham Spanier welcomed the group and discussed the development of a retirement village. He reported that the planned village will be built with no university funds, it should bring additional incomes to the area, it will be for individuals who are 55 years or older and it will have various types of housing possibilities. He also reported that they hope to have a volunteer office on site with various activities sponsored by retiree volunteers. This village should consist of mostly townhouses in a wooded area with a continuous care facility. To date there have been contacts with developers, surveys have been distributed regarding marketing, some preliminary sketches have been completed, and a decision has been made to require a $1,000 deposit. The "Village at Penn State" will have a requirement that at death the investment in property will revert back to the retirement home. President Spanier was presented a hat and umbrella and reminded that his help to establish an organization of retirees at Northwestern University would be welcomed.

8:50 a.m. John Ziegler reported that currently there are 657 paid members in the PSRF/SC and he called on the following reps from other institutions to be introduced:

9:10 a.m. Billie Willits, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, described the many things that are handled under the Office for Human Resources at Penn State. Nancy Hensal, Manager of the Employee Benefits Division. reviewed recent and anticipated changes in benefits for retirees and distributed a handout to each attendee.

10:30 a.m. At this time each institutional rep was given the opportunity to say something about his/her organization.

Ohio reported that they are part of the overall state retirement benefit system and not that specifically for the university. Ohio currently has 600 retirees in a HMO. They are now sending questionnaire to all retirees to collect data on all aspects of retirement life. Ohio also distributed a list of trips sponsored by this group. They have three committees-Social, Cultural Affairs and Travel-and they had 35 events in one year or almost one activity for each committee each month.

Purdue reported the results of a survey relative to what retirees have contributed to the university during the last three years which included:

  1. Actual money donated to the university
  2. Services provided including courses taught
  3. Services provided to the community which amount to a contribution to the life of the area
    (This survey was completed in 1997.)

Iowa indicated they will have the annual meeting in 1999 and would appreciate ideas on how to conduct the meeting. Iowa has 350 members and they are anxious to have newsletter exchanges. Some of the questions they would like to hear answers to are:

  1. What are the cooperative relationships with universities?
  2. How to get retired faculty and staff active?
  3. What is university support?
  4. What are the ranges for dues?
  5. What might be the best dates for the meeting in Iowa City?

Minnesota reported they have a Volunteer Center, which is the retirees largest activity for the 700+ members. There are 175 volunteers on the list to provide several thousand hours of service per year-particularly volunteers for theater functions, etc. The university provides $5,000 per year for the Volunteer Center and nothing to the Retirees Association directly.

Michigan reported no help from their university except for one annual mailing for postage. In 1996 they rewrote their constitution with some help from a law school person after which they received tax exempt status.

Illinois reported that the Champaign Chapter is part of the statewide organization headquartered in Springfield. Their dues are $20 per year and $15 of that goes to Springfield. In Illinois most retiree activities relate to watch dogging the legislature's handling of pension funds.

Gene Lindstrom reported that to get volunteers involved they must be approached within a month of their retirement!

Penn State presented information on the PSRF/SC Assistance Fund that was established in 1952 by Penn State retirees to provide supplemental funding for needy retirees in emergency situations. Contributions from retirees were used to establish this fund. Currently a three-member committee administers the Assistance Fund. During the years prior to 1993. small disbursements from the fund were made to a few needy members. In 1994, the Assistance Fund Committee with the cooperation of the university advised the 4500 +or- retirees of this fund. As a result, more than 60 requests for assistance were received in l 994. Fifty requests were approved by the committee and a total of $18,634 was dispersed to those needy individuals. In 1995. $2,664 was approved to assist nine retirees. In 1996, $2,116 was approved from eight requests. To date in 1997, $1,095 was approved to satisfy three requests. It is anticipated that sometime in 1998 or 1999, another mailing will be sent to all retirees advising them again of the existence of this fund. Currently, there is a balance of about $65,000. This presentation spawned considerable discussion about the difficulty of verifying the needs when assistance is requested.

1:30 - 4:15 p.m. Jane Ziegler conducted a bus tour of the Penn State campus and a walking tour of the Bryce Jordon Center for the BEURA reps, their spouses and some PSRF/SC members.

5:30 p.m. There was a social hour in the NLI Alumni Lounge with ample hors d'oeuvres, punch and a cash bar. This was the same spread as experienced on Sunday night for the initial reception. Jim Langton provided piano music on Sunday night and Ray Fortunato did the same on Monday. During the Monday social hour, Tom King took two photographs of the reps and attendees which he had developed and distributed to the participants during the dinner which began at 6:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m. John McCormack, Executive Vice President of TIAA-CREF, discussed Social Security Reform and answered many, many questions from the diners.

Tuesday -
9:00 a.m. Dr. Helen Wright, Penn State Professor of Nutrition, and Dr. Gordon Jense, Director of the Penn State Geisinger Health System, presented a comprehensive program on Wellness and Nutrition. Dr. Jense indicated the frequency of under nutrition in retirees is considerable, that many physicians have little or no training in nutrition, and that there are too many older, overweight persons. Dr. Wright discussed the dietary guidelines and how they relate to retirees. She indicated she believes the RADS are too low for vitamins B6, B12, C, folic acid and calcium. She recommended consumption of more fruits and vegetables.

10:30 a.m. At this time, the items on the suggested priority list were specifically approached.

The University of Michigan will distribute the 1995 version of the original survey of members. There was considerable support for an updated version of that survey in order to obtain more detailed answers to the questions. Wilfred Kaplan may be asked to consider a revision of the 1995 survey.

John Ziegler volunteered to coordinate a list of common addresses for mailings. Some reps gave him updates for general mailing addresses. At some universities an office address has been established for the retiree organization so that when officers change, the address remains constant.

Relationships with alumni associations were discussed and it was learned that some are good and productive and others are adversarial.

The question arose as to the existence or possibility of a national retirees organization Should other national organizations be reviewed to learn if there would be advantages to have a national retirees association?

Another discussion was related to possible privileges that are reciprocal among the organizations for travel plans. It was reported that most travel plans and programs are generated by alumni groups.

There was considerable interest in the discussion relative to what retiree organizations can do for their universities. Ohio State has conducted a questionnaire and enumerated the ways and the number of activities that have been carried out to the benefit of the university. They will share this information.

11:15 a.m. Ron Avillion, Director of Continuing and Distance Education, discussed Continuing Education, CALL and Go 60 Program. Ron distributed materials describing all of the possibilities for educational activities for retirees under his umbrella.

At this time Will Stallman invited everyone to Illinois for their l 998 annual meeting. He indicated that the preliminary dates had been set however, he would consider the possibility of changing to a date that would make air travel more economical if that is possible. The tentative Illinois dates are August l 7 and l 8, 1998.

200 p.m. Dr. Richard Porter conducted a tour of the Old Main rotunda and gave a detailed explanation of the Henry Varnum Poor "Land Grant Frescoes." For the group of persons who took advantage of this opportunity, it was a most enjoyable finish to an outstanding BEURA annual meeting.

Afterthought - Each visiting university rep received a basket of mementos appropriately in a blue and white moti. At registration each participant received a packet with a name tag, pen, small tablet with PSU emblem and maps of the NLI, campus and surrounding areas. Also included was a copy of Senior Citizens Interest Guide to Campus Life and the T&G for August 1997 which included "An Insiders' Guide: Tips for Living in Centre County."

11-5-97   JHZ

4021 Wolverine Tower   Ann Arbor MI   48109