2020-04 From the President: Confronted with a pandemic

What a difference a month makes. Instead of preparing for spring and the planting of gardens, we are confronted with a global pandemic that threatens our health and well-being. As seniors we are among the most vulnerable people endangered by the pandemic. On top of that, the economy is seriously stalled, and our investments are negatively affected. 

It is, of course, a field day for the epidemiologists, and we are being educated about how viruses spread and what we can do. We will find out in the next several weeks whether our collective efforts have blunted the spread, “flattened the curve,” and enabled our health care system to deal with the pandemic. 

For our Retirees Association, we have been forced to cancel our forums, workshops, and other meetings for March and April. I will let you know in a few weeks if we are on for UMRA’s annual meeting and celebration in May. Assuming the crisis abates, we will consider some summer programming to make up for all the cancellations. Stay tuned.

Our April newsletter includes an article on the University’s response to the pandemic by Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, the U’s Medical School dean, vice president for Clinical Affairs, and campus public health officer. Dr. Tolar is an academic scientist and physician who has a unique perspective on these issues. Please take a look at what he has to say. 

Cautious but virtually connected

It is impressive that the University has responded so rapidly and so well to this emergency. President Gabel has taken strong steps to keep our community safe, and great efforts are being made to continue the education and graduation of our students. 

Also on the bright side, UMRA has announced a total of $69,000 in professional development and research grants to 18 University retirees. Our thanks to Dick Poppele, chair, and the other members of the UMRA Grants Committee who reviewed this year’s applications and selected the winners. 

In the meantime, we have become a cautious and virtually connected society.  Cares Committee Chair Ron Matross has compiled tips from UMRA members for coping during the shutdown. My own current favorites are as follows: 

Books. I am a murder mystery aficionado and just finished C. J. Box’s Long Range, the latest in a recurring series about a Wyoming game warden. I also recommend Rescued by David Rosenfelt, a tale about a criminal defense lawyer who is enthralled with dogs, and anything by Allen Eskens, a former criminal defense attorney from Mankato, who has written several books, most famously The Life We Bury.

Media and TV. I have enjoyed The West Wing on Netflix, a series about the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s (comforting nostalgia), and, on Amazon Prime Video, Bosch, based on Michael Connelly’s murder mysteries.

If you have books, TV shows, or activities to recommend, please send your suggestions to me. Ron and I will figure out how to put them on the website.

Stay Safe!

—Bill Donohue, president UMRA, 651-308-4229