2022 PDGR Announcement

We are still driven to discover.


In 2007, the UMRA Board appointed a committee to explore a program of financial assistance for retirees who wished to continue their professional work and research projects. With a commitment of $10,000 seed money from UMRA, the committee gained support from the University and the Graduate School in launching a pilot program. In 2008, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the University of Minnesota Retirees Association jointly announced a program of annual professional development grants intended to support faculty, P&A, and civil service retirees wishing to pursue projects related to their research, instruction, or other work history and that contribute to the educational, scholarly and academic reputation of the University. One may review a list of grants that have been awarded since 2009 at Previous PDGR Awards. A summary of some of the things accomplished by these awards can be found at PDGR Impact Study.

Until recently, the University made an annual financial contribution to support the PDGR program. However, because of COVID-19 and University budget reductions made necessary by the pandemic, the University’s financial contributions to the program have been suspended. We hope the suspension will be temporary but, because of this reduction in support, it may be necessary to reduce the total to be awarded in 2022.

Next Year’s Professional Development Grants for Retirees

The PDGR program is an annual competition. All University of Minnesota retirees from the Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and Crookston Campuses who are eligible for University retirement benefits and who will be fully retired by the time of their award may apply for grants of any amount. However, awards will not usually exceed $3,000 unless a student mentee is part of the proposal in which case awards of $4,000 or more will be considered. A PDGR Committee reviews applications and makes recommendations regarding funding. The competition for next year’s awards opens on October 15, 2021. The deadline for applications is December 31, 2021. Approved proposals will be announced in February, 2022. Grants will start on April 1, 2022, and extend to June 30 of the following year.

As the award structure suggests, PDGR applicants are encouraged to engage undergraduate students in their projects. This is a good way to contribute to the overall University mission. Moreover, developing faculty-student mentorship relationships is likely to be valuable for all concerned and may encourage the University to resume PDGR financial support. The University’s Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS) program for honor students selected during the admission process and its Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) for all undergraduate students are good places for PDGR awardees to find students to mentor. In both programs, students can work with any University faculty member, can join an already established program or a new program and must complete 120 hours of research. Of note, stipends for URS and UROP students are provided by the University. Details about these two programs can be found at

Allowed expenses in PDGR awards include travel and per diem costs related to research trips and conference attendance; stipends for undergraduate and/or graduate research assistants; the purchase of books, computers, and software; photocopying; and other relevant costs of scholarship. Ineligible expenses include salary for the applicant and institutional overhead charges.

Application Instructions

The Application Instructions (linked below) provide information about funding requirements and how to apply. Applications may be submitted by email or as paper copies as explained in the instructions.

Supporting the PDGR Program

UMRA recently initiated an ambitious campaign with the goal of building a substantial reserve fund for our PDGR program. One can make a tax deductible contribution by credit card at online or by check payable to the University of Minnesota Foundation (P.O. Box 860266, Minneapolis MN 55486-0266). Please note “UMRA Fund 4867” on your check. We encourage UMRA members who have not yet made a contribution to do so and, if members have already made a contribution or pledge, to consider adding to it.

If you are 70 1⁄2 or older, you can also make a qualified charitable distribution for the PDGR program directly from your IRA to the U of M Foundation and avoid paying federal income tax (up to $100,000 per year). An additional option is to support the program with a future estate gift. For more information or if you have questions, please contact Lynn Praska, Senior Planned Giving Officer, U of M Foundation at 612-624-4158 or [email protected].

Questions about the Program

Anyone with questions or suggestions should contact John Bantle, MD, Chair of the PDGR Committee.



The election of UMRA officers and new board members for 2024–25 will be conducted via an online poll from May 13 to 19, with the results to be announced at our annual meeting on May 21. Look for the ballot in your email inbox on May 13. Diane Young has been nominated to be president-elect.