From the President

(YYYY-MM From the President: Title)

2021-03 From the President: I hope you have considered the COVID-19 vaccine.

I hope you are safe and well and have considered the COVID-19 vaccine if it has been offered to you. Check with your health system, health provider, or the Minnesota Department of Health to see if you qualify and where the administration sites are located.

The UMRA A.M., Living Well Workshop, and UMRA Forum webinars via Zoom were all technically and expertly supported by Virgil Larson, John Anderson, and the UMRA Zoom Team in January and February. The team will continue their support as we move into March and beyond. Many thanks to Virgil and the team. 

If you have not yet made a $20 voluntary contribution via the UMRA website to Support Zoom Programming, please consider doing so. UMRA will incur technical expenses as the year continues.

The Minnesota Legislature is in the process of appointing new regents. UMRA, with Bill Donohue’s shepherding, submitted a commentary that was published in MinnPost on February 11: “New U of M regents should be nonpartisan people of substantial accomplishment.”

At the UMRA retreat last August, there was a discussion about social isolation during the pandemic and what additional approaches UMRA could provide to promote community engagement. One of the suggestions was to create an UMRA Facebook group open to all retirees. Gary Engstrand, with help from the UMRA Communications & Outreach Committee, has done that. Read “Connect with UMRA on Facebook” to learn more. 

It is time to develop a slate of candidates for the UMRA Board. Past President Bill Donohue is leading this effort. If you are interested, please email Bill at and let him know.

The University has received a large grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to establish the Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), one of 16 institutes within the new Manufacturing USA network. The institute will engineer microbes such as bacteria, yeast, and algae into products to purify drinking water and prevent corrosion on metals; are resistant to fire; and can be used for other innovative applications. BioMADE will be the focus of the March 9 UMRA A.M. via Zoom and is described in “BioMADE: a catalyst for growth,” in an article by Jerry Rinehart. 

Thanks to Will Craig’s passion for written communication, the Journal of Opinions, Ideas and Essays (JOIE) is being re-energized with the appointment of a new editor. UMRA member Kristine Bettin came highly recommended for the position and is eager to get started. You can learn more about her at “JOIE has a new editor.”

Stay safe and well.

—Frank Cerra, MN, UMRA president


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