2022-04 From the president | Welcome, spring!
As I write this in mid-March, the temperature outdoors is below zero, but my neighbors in rural Wisconsin are getting their equipment out in the woods ready to tap their trees. They’re anticipating the freeze/thaw weather that brings the sap and sugars so that they can make syrup. The trees feel spring coming before we do.
Our organization, UMRA, hasn’t been hibernating over the winter, but it still feels to me like we, too, are getting ready to feel our sap flow and to emerge like the trees in spring. Our Board, Program Committee, and technical team are gearing up to return to in-person forum. Barring any public health surprises, that will be in time for the 2022 annual meeting of our membership on May 24. A team of volunteers—Diane Young, Diane Gihl, Char Greenwald, and Nancy Helmich—has come together to serve as our Host Committee for UMRA’s in-person luncheon forums, to create a welcoming environment, manage registrations, and be our liaison with the Campus Club. After two years of meeting only virtually, it’s like re-learning a set of lost skills.
The Social Activities Committee is getting ready for in-person outings this spring and summer. We experimented with some virtual social events in January and March that were successful enough that we might include those on the calendar again next winter, while members are more homebound or able to join from anywhere they are in the world. The Hiking Club, active through the winter with ice cleats on their boots (!), is adding to their hiking calendar for the coming better weather.
The Communication and Outreach Committee has a team working on the redesign of the UMRA website on a new platform. Kris Mortensen has likened it to “moving house” when you must look at everything you have and decide whether to keep it, and where it goes. It’s a great opportunity to rebuild the “house” where UMRA lives on the web.
Another strong current running through our tree is the work to develop our relationship with the University Retirees Volunteer Center. UMRA and URVC started from the same roots, branched away from each other for a while, and are now getting ready to grow together again in ways that will strengthen our community and better serve our members and volunteers. We’ll hear more about that in the weeks to come.
A refreshed and more vigorous Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by UMRA and Provost Rachel Croson, deepens our roots with the University and brings renewed energy for the Professional Development Grants for Retirees program, the work of URVC, our recruitment of new members, and other cooperation that may bud out in the future.
And, speaking of new energy, the Nominating Committee under Frank Cerra’s leadership has heard from many of you with excellent recommendations for our upcoming election of officers and board members in May. Thanks to those serving on the committee and to the talents, commitment, and spirit of our membership.
—Jan Morlock, UMRA president, email@example.com