Make your own discoveries in Portugal in 2025 on this journey to medieval monasteries, fertile vineyards and cities that are equal parts history and modern energy. Deadline to express an interest is Friday June 7, 2024.


Spend eight nights in Madrid and Barcelona in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Embrace the colorful history of the Canadian Maritime provinces for 11 nights in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Spend four nights in Québec City in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Spend 9 nights on the Douro River in Portugal in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


Embrace and explore Mexico City as it showcases all facets of Mexico’s national character in 2025. Deadline to express an interest is Friday, June 7, 2024.


Bright and bold living history awaits you in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida in 2025. Express your interest by June 7, 2024.


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.


“I convinced myself I could handle this problem without support groups or doing additional research, but that’s only because I didn’t want to make it any more real than it already was. Denial comes in many forms, and one is to avoid thinking about the problem any more than need be.” —Alice A. Larson


Meet UMRA member Peter Moe. He retired in 2023 after a career that spanned nearly half a century at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and is credited with developing the “Arb” into one of the few in the U.S. with world-class fruit and landscape breeding programs.


The University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC) has welcomed two new members with valuable skills and experience to the URVC Leadership Council: Lynn Slifer and Jeanne Jacobson.


The University plans to remove retirees from the internet identity domain on December 7. UMRA has advocated for ensuring continued access to this identity (including email, Google Workspace, and associated services), citing University retirees’ enduring contributions to and engagement with the University. Thus far, our efforts have not prompted any change of plans. 


If you’re looking for an opportunity to explore your photographic interests, hone your photographic skills, and hear what other retirees are up to, the UMRA Photo Club is a great place to be. We have fun! And whatever your skill level, there is room for everybody. 


Leading the online Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays has been a labor of love for Kris Bettin. Alas, a change in family needs has necessitated her retirement. So, JOIE is seeking a new leader to join a savvy editorial committee of five and bring fresh ideas for continued development of the UMRA-sponsored journal.


Soon you will receive an email or letter inviting you to renew your UMRA membership for the 2024–25 year. Please renew before you get busy with your summer activities. Your support helps to make our programs and many other member benefits possible!


This will be a new regular column where you can find organizational tasks that need your help! We are currently looking for help researching a new UMRA Membership Database and URVC volunteer database, and a co-producer for UMRA's Zoom webinars. See more details:



The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Homelessness is a housing problem

Tue, April 26 2022, 12pm

“The homeless problem is a housing problem,” according to Tim Marx, the informative and engaging speaker at the UMRA Forum on April 26, 2022. Speaking on the topic “Advancing the Public Good Through Housing,” Marx maintained that many challenges may increase the risk of homelessness (such as chemical dependence, ex-offender status, and domestic abuse), but the root cause of the homeless problem is the housing crisis.

Marx is a leading authority on homelessness in the Twin Cities, having served as president and CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 2011 to 2020 and, prior to that, as commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency from 2003 to 2008.  During his tenure at Catholic Charities, the organization dramatically rebuilt and expanded the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul to provide home, shelter, and services to more than 1,000 people per day.  

Except during the Great Depression, homelessness was not a significant problem in the U.S. until the mid to late 1980s, according to Marx. At that time, our country de-institutionalized health care for severe mental illness without providing housing alternatives, wiped out “flop houses” through urban renewal, and stopped investing in public housing. 

Upward trends threaten decades of progress

Once we recognized homelessness as primarily a housing problem, the U.S. made progress by implementing a “housing first” philosophy that emphasizes building more housing, with supportive financial assistance for renters and homeowners. However, trends for the unsheltered population have moved upward again since 2016, threatening decades of progress. 

The good news nationally is that homelessness among veterans has been nearly eliminated. Good progress also has been made with families. Those age 55 and older are experiencing the largest increase in homelessness, exacerbated by their loss of skills and connections. Unfortunately, among the homeless, Marx said, “50 is the new 75.”

Marx provided 2020 statistics showing that Minnesota ranks 17th in the U.S. in terms of the number of homeless people, with approximately 8,000. The states in the top ten are politically blue, red, and purple; the one thing they all have in common is a very tight housing market. According to Marx, Minnesota needs 55,000 more units across the state, and the Twin Cities are at risk of facing the same homeless challenges as Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland.

Throughout his presentation and the question-and-answer session that followed, Marx sought to put a face on the homeless. He referred to a man named Karl who frequented the Dorothy Day Center and inspired Catholic Charities’ work when he said, “Everybody here just wants a job and a place of their own.”  (See video). 

Marx closed by saying we need the political will as a nation to invest in more affordable housing, and he encouraged attendees to “advocate, donate and volunteer.”  

—Barbara Shiels, UMRA Program Committee member

Event recording
Click on , then    to view recording in full screen.




Advancing the public good through housing

Tue, April 26 2022, 12pm
Tim Marx
President emeritus
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Event to be held via Zoom.

UMRA’s April 2022 Forum will feature Tim Marx, the long-time president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis (2011–20) and one of Minnesota’s leading authorities on the homeless crisis in the Twin Cities. He is most famously responsible for Catholic Charities Dorothy Day Place in St. Paul which provides homes, shelter, and services to more than 1,000 people a day. It is the largest public-private partnership in housing and social services in state history.

Marx will comment on the causes of homelessness, its extent, its context in relationship to other major poverty-related challenges, and solutions. He is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic not only because of his 10 years as the head of Catholic Charities but also because of his work as executive director of Breaking Ground in New York City, a housing and community development nonprofit aimed at providing supportive housing to the formerly homeless and special needs populations.

Marx also served as the commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (2003–08) and as St. Paul deputy mayor and city attorney (1994–98). He has dedicated his career to public policy, concentrating on solutions to homelessness in our communities.

A big talent lawyer and advocate

He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983 and earned a Master of Public Affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in the same year. He engaged in the private practice of law at Briggs and Morgan (now Taft) for several years, representing and advising private, public, and nonprofit entities. He recently returned to the practice of law with the Winthrop & Weinstine law firm, which has a national affordable housing practice.

Marx is a big talent lawyer and public policy advocate who has devoted his considerable skills to advancing the public good, particularly with respect to the least fortunate in our community. 

Please register for this Zoom webinar and join us at 12 noon on Tuesday, April 26, to learn about homelessness and Tim Marx’s incredible advocacy.

—Bill Donohue and Barbara Shiels, UMRA Board members