2019-02 From the President: UMRA is growing, active, and thriving

As UMRA moves into 2019, I thought I should offer a “State of the Association” report. (Spoiler alert—I think we’re doing pretty darn well.)

Our total membership is approaching 600, having nicely recovered from the drop-off we experienced after the Office of Human Resources stopped providing us with contact information for new University retirees (our primary mode for recruiting members). UMRA reached a new agreement with OHR last spring and we now have more new members—105—than ever before.

Our longest-standing member, Francis Paulu, joined UMRA in 1978! 

Helping to keep members engaged, the Social Activities Committee has introduced myriad new activities and events, including tours (e.g., the new Bell Museum, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum) and tie-ins with Campus Club events and Gopher Athletics. This past month it spun off a new “Armchair Traveler” series (see article on page 7).

Another new initiative, the Finance and Legal Issues Group (FLG), has been providing access to important information for UMRA regarding major changes in federal tax law, savvy strategies for charitable giving, and similar timely topics. FLG joins the Photo Club and the Book Club in creating vibrant communities for learning, sharing, and discovery.

Keeping us informed and in touch, the Communications Committee has overseen significant upgrades to our newsletter and website and is currently working to make our monthly luncheon presentations accessible online.

A major upgrade of our data systems has allowed us to establish a single database containing virtually every person who has been a part of UMRA since its inception in 1976. 

 

A more active role
As evident in UMRA’s engagement in the search for the new University president and the selection of new regents, UMRA is taking a more active role in advocacy and support for the University.

For many, of course, the most visible elements of UMRA are our monthly luncheon presentations and workshops. Being able to hold these events in the Campus Club’s spacious West Wing Dining Room has certainly improved participant experience and allowed us to accommodate many more members. As those who saw Fred de Sam Lazaro’s January presentation and participated in the Meditation and Mindfulness workshop can attest, the quality of these sessions remains superb.

If you look through recent newsletters you certainly get a sense of the scope and range of events and services our members have created and organized. Additional good ideas are in the works, and the best news of all is that good ideas seem to spark more good ideas. 

All of us currently in leadership positions stand on the shoulders of our UMRA predecessors. Thanks to our collective work and dedication, UMRA is thriving today and, I believe, well positioned to serve University retirees going forward.