Impact of PDGR program is deep and wide
The Professional Development Grants for Retirees (PDGR) program is the only grant program in the United States to offer funding to retirees who want to continue their intellectual work. Whether in their academic field or starting something fresh, PDGR grant recipients can stay engaged for personal fulfillment and also for greater academic and societal benefit. Since 2009, the PDGR program has awarded more than 130 grants for a wide range of projects, from advancing international prevention science to documenting the life of civil rights activist and University leader Josie Johnson.
To date, these grants have helped to generate nine books, 48 journal articles, and an untold number of public and professional presentations. In addition, a mix of videos, websites, public exhibits, software, and educational material has been produced or updated with PDGR funding. Many of these achievements are recognized and used nationally and internationally, thus enhancing the reputation of the University of Minnesota.
Most grant recipients (71 percent) said the PDGR program was their only source of funding. More than half the others said their PDGR awards helped them to leverage additional funds.
Engineering Professor Emeritus Patrick Brezonik received nearly $680,000 in National Science Foundation and other grants. He said, “I am convinced that none of these grants would have been obtained without the seed funding the PDGR provided.”
Gaining new knowledge
In a survey of grant recipients from 2014 to 2019, PDGR grant recipients cite the benefits of gaining new knowledge and expanding professional networks. Many received recognition, requests for keynote presentations, and offers to organize sessions or write (or edit) a book on topics originally supported with a PDGR grant.
Emeritus Professor of History William D. Phillips Jr., to cite just one example, used his grant to study the ethnographic observations of foreign travelers in Iberia in the 15th and 16th centuries. “It enabled me to begin a successful post-retirement trajectory of scholarship,” he said.
Strikingly, more than two thirds of the projects have benefited society at large, both in the United States and around the world.
2014-19 PDGR-supported projects
Here is a sampling of the projects supported over the past five years.
Art. A dance film based on a refugee's memoirs of Nazi Germany; new metal sculptures, displayed worldwide.
Early modern history. Evidence of global trade through a study of dress and textiles in Nigeria; foreign travelers' views of slavery in 15th and 16th century Iberia.
Education and learning. A new approach in learner social identity for people acquiring a second language; a multicultural video series showing parent-child interaction, and a new company to disseminate the videos.
Environment. Determining water quality in lakes through remote sensing; how Spanish fishermen controlled the mainstay tuna population in the 14th to 16th centuries; a video series on the critical importance of mining to the U.S. economy and national security.
Exemplary achievement. A biography of a woman who contributed to the successes of both Planned Parenthood and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; folk and fairy tales of a forgotten folklorist; early American Indian writers—the “founding mothers” of Native American literature.
Health. Using biostatistical data to develop approaches leading to better outcomes for younger AIDs patients; analyzing circadian rhythms in chronomics.
History. Interviews with women in Minnesota local government 1970–2000; archiving historic documents on campus religious organizations; collecting an oral history of the founders of early lesbian organizations in Minnesota.
The human condition. Suffering and quality of life; evolutionary developmental psychology theory on personality and how individuals respond to the environment.
Racial equity. Josie Johnson's civil rights memoir; a history of the U of M's early racial housing policies; an online anti-bias course for New York police.
Statistics. Summarizing large amounts of data with a single number; game theory.
A complete listing of the projects supported since 2009 can be found under Grants for Retirees on the UMRA website.
—Will Craig, member, UMRA Board of Directors
At A Glance
Sep 21 2021 - 11:00am
Sep 28 2021 - 12:00pm
Oct 12 2021 - 9:00am
The University of Minnesota Retirees Association’s response to COVID-19 developments is aligned with the University's Safe Campus guidelines.
Accordingly, all these events will be held via Zoom.
More than a century after the timeframe of this tale of harrowing illness and intertwined heartbreak, the parallels with today’s COVID-19 pandemic and current wars struck Book Club II participants as eerie. More …
When Yoel Blum travels from his home in Israel to Amsterdam, where he was born, he begins a journey of finding out the many things his mother kept from him, which leads to a new understanding of who he is. More …
On a clear and sunny Tuesday in August, the Retirees Association held its first all-member, in-person event in more than a year. Nearly 100 members and guests gathered at the Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul to enjoy lunch and being together outdoors. More …
UMRA member Julie Medbery grew up on a farm in South Dakota, and at one time during her career at the U of M knew the names of nearly 200 (agricultural) Extension educators across the state. More …
The 2022 PDGR awards competition opens October 15, and the application deadline is December 31. The program is open to all retirees from all five campuses in the University of Minnesota System. More …
When you park your vehicle on campus, use the square QR code on the back of your new 2021–22 UMRA membership card to obtain the UMRA parking discount. More …
Are you curious about UMRA’s past or are you someone who simply enjoys working with others to put together innovative projects? If so, UMRA needs you. More …
The Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE), has seen a recent influx of new articles on a wide variety of topics. With the addition of six articles, the number of papers downloaded for reading during the first seven months of 2021 was nearly 20% higher than during the same period one year previously. Everyone associated with the University of Minnesota, both active and retired, qualifies as an author -- faculty, P & A employees, civil service/bargaining unit staff, and alumni. More …
More than 50 UMRA members and guests enjoyed a delightful late afternoon together learning about wine and wine tasting and then tasting three excellent Minnesota wines. More …
UMRA had over 600 members in August 2021. With help from U-Spatial we mapped the location of members in the Twin Cities area, both to show the distribution of members and to help our members see potential car-pool opportunities. Click to enlarge map. Use the Member Search to find other members by city, state and zip.