2019-05 From the President: Looking back, looking forward

Several years ago, UMRA presidents and leaders set the stage for reasserting our role within the University as both advocates and constructive supporters. Through their wisdom and persistence, they developed our 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Provost’s office, which clarifies UMRA’s alignment and partnership with the University.

The MOU was essential when we worked with the Office of Human Resources to restore our ability to contact recent retirees with information about UMRA.

After an almost two-year decline in new members, we have now returned to growth and will likely match or exceed our peak membership of more than 600 in 2015, and our voice has become more influential. This year alone we met with the Regents Candidate Advisory Committee and published our perspectives on both the hiring of the new University president and the upcoming regents selection process.

UMRA’s return to membership growth has coincided with our success in securing the expanded seating capacity and improved ambience of the West Wing dining room for our monthly meetings. Now, when members see someone in the room they want to greet, they’re actually able to move across the room to do so!

Membership organizations like UMRA grow and sustain themselves when they have a visible identity in the community. We have a number of initiatives moving forward that will expand our reach and help establish this identity. For example, we are now capable of capturing and posting online the presentations of our monthly speakers. Soon you will see new signage at our events and have access to UMRA business cards you can distribute to potential new members.

As we study the results of the UMRA-URVC survey of volunteer activities (to which I hope you have responded by now), we will undoubtedly find evidence of the impact of our members’ activities on the University and surrounding communities. This information will complement the data we have regarding our members’ significant financial contributions to the U.

I look forward to serving UMRA as a past president, and as I leave my position this year, I want to thank all those whose work and efforts have brought the organization to where it is today. Formal leaders (officers, committee chairs, et al are, of course, the most visible, but the real “life” and success of the organization rests with all of you who engage in UMRA activities and programs and who help spread the word about UMRA to your friends and colleagues. Thank you.