REPORT OF BIG TEN RETIREES CONFERENCE
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY AUGUST 2002
As delegates from UMRA, Pat Butler and I attended the Big-10 Retirees Association meeting held in Columbus under the auspices of the Ohio State University Retirees Association from Saturday evening, August 17 through noon of August 19. Fifteen people were present as official delegates, representing every institution except Northwestern and Illinois. Total attendance was much higher (approximately fifty), due to the presence of spouses and Ohio State members.
The meeting was well organized, with lavish hospitality from the host institution. A number of facilities were used, these being among the most elegant university venues I've seen. Delegates (plus spouses and local members) were transported by buses as necessary.
The conference format deliberately deviated from the "show and tell" past tradition, in which representatives of the respective institutions described their organization, along with its achievements and problems. Instead, delegates concentrated on four crucial focus areas. These were respectively Needs of university retirees (that might be addressed by retirees associations); volunteerism; university/association relationships and advocacy; attracting and retaining members.
To obtain and organize ideas on these topics, the fifteen representative members were organized into three teams, each of which brainstormed the respective topics under the guidance of facilitators. The facilitators then organized the brainstorming results, with the help of self-selected representative members. Using this material, the facilitators then composed organized written reports presented to the conference the next day. The reports themselves are too lengthy to summarize here. However, I have copies of these reports, and will be pleased to make them available.
Following the presentation of the above reports, there was a business meeting. This represented an effort by the Ohio State sponsors to put the Big Ten Retirees Association on an organized footing. A draft set of by-laws was presented for consideration and possible action at the next Big Ten meeting. The representatives also agreed that presentations by vendors (e.g. TIAA/CREF) was inappropriate, since it constitutes favoritism and moreover not be applicable to all associations. Membership in the Committee of Institutional Cooperation was considered and rejected as being of insufficient value to Big Ten associations. Finally, the chair was turned over to Pat Butler, as the Chairperson for the next Big Ten meeting to be held in Ann Arbor. She announced plans for next year's meeting in Ann Arbor.
The conference afforded me an opportunity to make some remarks and obtain information of specific interest to UMRA. It was generally recognized that sharing of information (especially officers addresses (1) and association benefits and activities) was inadequate. I was able to publicize our website as a vehicle for sharing such data and maintaining historical continuity. We were able to encourage the forwarding of relevant information to us for posting on the website. It is hoped that this will make the website more useful to the Big Ten associations.
Ohio State grants free membership for one year to new retirees. It seems to me that this is an idea we could well emulate. This group is easily identified by HRAA, and the cost to us would not be excessive. (2.) At the same time, it would appear to be a good way to encourage new membership in UMRA.
I spoke with the Iowa delegates, who thought very highly of Mary Sue Coleman. They assured me that she had been most supportive of their retiree organization, and had appeared at some of their meetings. They were certain she would respond positively to an invitation from UMRA, and that she would be sympathetic to our needs.
1 Lack of this information handicapped OSU in its publicity to potential attendees.
2.We would send a letter enclosing a newsletter, and put them on the mailing list for four more newsletters.
UMRA is a tax-exempt charitable organization and contributions to the Association may be included as "Gifts to Charity" for Federal Income Tax purposes.
OF MICHIGAN RETIREES ASSOCIATION
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