2017-03 From the President: Be an Advocate for the U

This month's President's message was written by Board member Jeanne Markell, who is the UMRA representative to the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. This is the first in a series of articles that we will bring to you about UMRA's effort to work cooperatively with UMAA.

--Donna Peterson

Retirees have a unique perspective on the consequences of diminished state investment in higher education, and our former employer needs our help!

Over the decades of our careers, most of us saw the power of public dollars leveraging private dollars, including tuition, at the U of M. We worked for the U in the golden years, when it wasn’t so much if, but where, state dollars would be allocated. Times have changed. We’re in a different era. A more competitive public funding climate means that higher ed doesn’t rise to the top of the food chain in most instances. It’s not the hottest issue on most folks' radar.

At its summer retreat, the board discussed UMRA’s mission activities, including appropriate roles in advocacy for the University. One idea is to explore ways we can partner with the U of M Alumni Association, which has a very active advocacy agenda. Over the coming months, we will be discussing ways our members can be kept informed and take action. The 2016 UMRA survey told us loud and clear that retirees are busy folks, so rest assured that we promise to keep thing uncomplicated and flexible. We also know, however, that retirees care about lots of policy and funding issues at all levels of government, so this will be approached with that in mind.

We’ll consider advocacy best practices on a wide spectrum of the time and interests our members have to offer. At a minimum, the goal is to keep this on everyone’s radar. The 2017 legislative session is well underway, but your relationship with elected officials is important all year long. As the current UMRA-UMAA liaison, I welcome your responses to this article and your suggestions for moving forward. Email me at: marke002@umn.edu. Please mention “UMRA Advocacy” in the subject line.

Watch for updates in coming newsletters and emails. To get started, check out these these U of M Alumni Association links: