Past Programs

Past UMRA Forums

June 1, 2019 - 11:00pm

The University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) is dedicated to connecting U of M retirees in lifelong, mutual support of the University and each other. Membership is open to all faculty, civil service, P&A, and bargaining unit retirees from all U of M campuses and their spouses or partners.

Incorporated in 1978, UMRA has served, supported, and advocated for the interests of the University for more than 40 years.

By the numbers

    •    Nearly 600. The number of UMRA members as of March 2019. 
o 235 faculty
o 213 staff
o 147 spouses and partners 

    •    8. The number of monthly programs UMRA hosts annually. Programs typically begin with a luncheon or reception and include a featured speaker plus a workshop on the theme of living well in later life. Excellent programming has been a hallmark of UMRA since its inception. 

    •    100–150 members and guests. The typical monthly program attendance. 

    •    $23.2 million. The total amount contributed (FY12–FY18) by current UMRA members to 
the U’s ongoing “Driven” campaign. 

    •    $5,000. Grants of up to $5,000 each are available to U of M retirees through the 
competitive Professional Development Grants for Retirees program, administered by 
UMRA and the Office of the Vice President for Research. 

    •    8. The number of newsletters UMRA publishes annually (September–May) and 
distributes by mail and online at 
In addition to its eight monthly programs, UMRA offers a variety of group activities, including: 


In addition to its eight monthly programs, UMRA offers a variety of group activities, including:

    •    Armchair Traveler
    •    Book Club
    •    UMRA Cares
    •    Financial and Legal Issues Group
    •    Journal for Opinions, Ideas, and Essays
    •    Photo Club
    •    Social Activities
    •    Volunteer Opportunities

Designated UMRA board liaisons attend and report on the activities of the Board of Regents, the Alumni Association, the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs, the Benefits Advisory Committee, the University Retiree Volunteer Center, and the Campus Club.

Board of Regents
May 21, 2019 - 4:00pm

Featured Speaker
David McMillan, chair
Board of Regents

West Wing Dining Room, Campus Club
Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Buffet Menu
Salmon with festive and hearty appetizers, fresh fruit platter, coffee and tea, cash bar

Regent Chair David McMillan will speak about his extensive experience as a regent, including the selection of the University’s new president.

April 23, 2019 - 4:00pm

Featured Speaker
Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D. 

West Wing Dining Room, Campus Club
Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union 

Reception Menu
Assorted light hors d’oeuvres and a cheese tray will be served family style at each table

Professor Stephen Schondelmeyer, an expert in pharmaceutical care and its role in the healthcare system, will talk about drug pricing and his views on the current marketplace.

March 26, 2019 - 11:30am

Featured Speaker
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea

West Wing Dining Room, Campus Club
Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Luncheon Menu
Seared wild Alaskan salmon with tarragon butter over colcannon potatoes with broccoli.

UMM alumna Lorie Gildea will reflect on her work as chief justice and the effectiveness of the judicial system in Minnesota.

February 26, 2019 - 11:30am

Featured Speaker
Athletic Director Mark Coyle

Conference Room ABC, Campus Club
Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Luncheon Menu
Ferndale market turkey and wild rice meatloaf with mushroom demi-glace, mashed sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

AD Mark Coyle will join our February 26 luncheon to talk about “Gopher Advocacy,” addressing the current state of U of M Athletics and commenting on the national intercollegiate athletic scene. 

January 22, 2019 - 11:30am

Featured Speaker
Journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro

West Wing Dining Room, Campus Club Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Luncheon Menu
Fennel crusted cod with caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and roasted potatoes.

Fred de Sam Lazaro has reported from more than 60 countries in his 30-plus years as a correspondent for PBS and is the director of the Under-told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas. He will explain and show for us, with video clips, how his commitment to “making the foreign less foreign” has informed his life’s work.

November 27, 2018 - 11:30am

November 27, 2018 – 11:30am

Featured Speaker
Kathryn Pearson, Ph.D., Department of Political Science

West Wing Dining Room, Campus Club Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Luncheon Menu
Cider-braised boneless, skinless chicken breast, with caramelized onions, Minnesota apples, and cider sauce. Served with roasted squash and Brussels sprouts. 

Our November luncheon speaker will be Kathryn Pearson, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota associate professor of political science and well-known political commentator. She will analyze the results of the November 6, 2018, elections, including contests for the U.S. Congress, Minnesota’s constitutional offices and state house, and other races in states across the nation.

October 23, 2018 - 11:30am

Featured Speakers
Jonathan Ravdin, M.D., Department of Medicine
Joanne Eicher, Ph.D., Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel

Conference Room ABC, Coffman Memorial Union

Luncheon Menu
Gerhard bratwurst, sauerkraut, and German potato salad  with local potatoes, onions, and Iowa Berkshire bacon

Joanne Eicher and Jonathan Ravdin, recipients of Professional Development Grants for Retirees, will share highlights of their diverse research projects.  Jonathan Ravdin was Nesbitt professor and chair of the Department of Medicine when he retired from the University. “Utilizing Biostatistical Analysis of Case Management Data to Enhance Future Outcomes of the Youth and AIDS Projects” is the title of his grant winning research project.  Joanne Eicher retired from the College of Design as a Regents professor. “Analysis of Traditions of Kalabari Living Abroad” is the title of her project.

September 25, 2018 - 4:00pm

West Wing Reception and Meeting

William Doherty, professor
Department of Family Social Science
and project director, Citizen Professional Center

Our era may be the most divisive in the U.S. since the Civil War. Yet polls suggest even the hyper-partisan yearn for greater unity and civility. Our September speaker, William Doherty, Ph.D., is doing something about it. In a talk entitled, “Beyond Polarization: Bridging the Red/Blue Divide in Communities,” he will tell us about a remarkable nationwide effort to help people with differing views learn to speak and listen respectfully to each other. He has developed a model of grassroots organizing among parents and other citizens around cultural, community, and health issues. As a therapist, he works with couples on the brink of divorce.


Past Living Well Workshops

June 1, 2019 - 11:00pm

May 21, 2019 - 2:30pm

The UMRA board has invited representatives of two senior living facilities with University connections to provide information about their facilities and the services they provide.

April 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

CANCELED. Our April workshop presenter has had to cancel her presentation for health reasons. We wish Professor Madelon Sprengnether a speedy recovery and look forward to rescheduling her memoir writing workshop in the 2019-20 program year. The regular April meeting will proceed as scheduled in the West Wing, beginning at 4 p.m.



March 26, 2019 - 1:30pm

Neurologist Michael Howell, M.D., an associate professor and vice chair of education in the Department of Neurology, will be the presenter for our March workshop on how sleep patterns are affected by aging. 

Retirement planning
February 26, 2019 - 1:30pm

Representatives from the Office of Human Resources will present and discuss with us changes being made to the University’s Faculty Retirement Plan. These changes will be rolled out during 2019 and should be of interest to all persons with funds in the Faculty Retirement Plan.

Please attend the workshop to hear about the changes and ask questions.

January 22, 2019 - 1:30pm

How to start practicing meditation and mindfulness will be the subject of a panel discussion for our January workshop. The panel will include poet Michael Dennis Browne and two other members of UMRA.

Come and share your own experiences as well as your questions about meditation.

November 27, 2018 - 1:30pm

Maintaining resiliency and honest hope for self and others can be challenging. For our November workshop, family and grief educator Ted Bowman will share his extensive experience teaching about life transition decisions and coping with grief.

October 23, 2018 - 1:30pm

A representative from the U’s Office of Human Resources will provide an overview of the new health plan options available to retirees, including rates for 2019. There will be more changes in the coming year than usual because Medicare Cost plans will no longer be available in certain areas of Minnesota due to the implementation of a federal law. A representative from the U’s Office of Human Resources (OHR) will provide an overview and comparison of the new benefit plans, including rates for 2019.

April 24, 2018 - 1:00pm

Joseph Gaugler, Ph.D., a gerontologist and professor of long-term care, will give an overview of Alzheimer’s disease and related diseases (ADRD).

With his team of a dozen researchers, Professor Gaugler simultaneously runs a variety of studies to learn both the quality of care provided to those with ADRD but also the effectiveness of existing programs and new tools for family caregivers. In addition to his very busy research and teaching schedule, he also holds an annual event called “Caring for a Person with Memory Loss Conference.”