2018-02 From the President: Short-term priorities

Short-term priorities

At its January meeting, the Board continued sifting through the plethora of suggestions from the membership “town hall” in October. The Board proposes the following priorities for the rest of this academic year

Solve the problem of luncheon overcrowding. President-elect Jerry Rinehart’s task force is making good progress on this front.

Improve communications. The Board approved the report, more than a year in the making, of the Communications Task Force. After initially focusing on developing the new electronic version of the newsletter, the task force turned its attention to such issues such as raising the profile of UMRA in the University and improving website usability. A new standing Communications and Outreach Committee, chaired by Board member Claudia Parliament, will spearhead implementation of the report. Many thanks to task force chair Jean Kinsey and members John Anderson, Scott Elton, Cathy Lee Gierke, Ginny Hanson, and Dave Naumann, plus those invited from the editorial team: Kris Mortensen, Becky Anderson, Julie Medbery, and Sadie Brendalen.

Find an effective way to reach potential members. The University’s Office of Human Resources has ruled that HIPAA privacy provisions preclude the University from sharing lists of new retirees with UMRA as it used to do. We are working with OHR to find a satisfactory alternative.

Expand the range of activities offered to members. There is great potential for more UMRA-wide events (success of the skyway tour and the UMRA tables at various Campus Club events is encouraging), as well as more special interest groups (as illustrated by the takeoff of the new Finance and Legal Group addressing these issues in retirement). See additional comments below.

Develop relations with the University. In the broad areas of what UMRA can do for the University and what the University can do for UMRA and retirees more generally, the Board asked the Council of Past Presidents to sift further the town hall suggestions and recommend priorities for the remainder of this academic year.

Longer-term priorities

The Board voted to undertake a fourth biennial one-day leadership retreat this summer. These retreats have permitted Board members, committee chairs, past presidents, etc., to step back from day-to-day issues and reflect on the overall direction of the organization and develop longer-term priorities.

Additional thoughts on special interest groups

The Board believes that clubs and other sorts of self-organizing groups have great potential as engines for expanding the range of activities available to UMRA members. A few notes on creating such groups:

  • Process: Any UMRA member(s) may propose a new special interest group. Once approved by the Board, a group becomes eligible for a website presence, use of the UMRA membership listserv for an organizing message, and announcements in the UMRA E-news and Newsletter.
  • Examples: Currently we have only three such groups: the photo club, the book discussion club, and the retiree financial and legal issues group. What other common interests can bring us together? Please see article on [page X ] for some ideas from other universities’ retiree organizations, as well as some of our own.

— Chip Peterson, UMRA President 2017–18

     c-pete@umn.edu