UMRA History

This page holds documents related to UMRA's development.

Condensed History of UMRA, 1976-2022  

UMRA was founded in 1976 by a group of retired faculty and staff who luncheoned regularly at the Campus Club and wanted to continue to do so following retirement. With Campus Club support a series of luncheons were established which eventually were expanded to include guest speakers from the University administration.

From these early days UMRA’s speakers and other activities have aligned with three primary areas of interests: staying informed, staying engaged, and serving the University community. University Presidents, state and local leaders, and media dignitaries have regularly been featured presenters at monthly luncheons. Special interest groups have blossomed (photography, book clubs, hiking, finances etc) allowing members to interact with others around shared topics and passions.  And commitment to supporting and serving others has led to a Cares Committee which reaches out to members and families experiencing loss or grief, and a University Retiree Volunteer Center which matches retirees’ skills and talents with University and community needs.

Since its bylaws were developed in 1977, organization leadership, planning and communications have been the charge of a 20-person Board of Directors. A team of liaisons has developed keeping the organization connected with other University units, e.g. central administration, faculty governance, alumni affairs, Board of Regents. A robust website and a monthly newsletter have developed into first-class communication tools keeping members informed and connected.

Several developments in UMRA’s history set it apart among higher education retiree associations:

  • In 2008, the UMRA and Office of the Vice President for Research jointly announced a program of professional development grants (PDRG) intended to support retirees wishing to pursue projects related to their research, instruction, or other work history. Over 100 grants have since been awarded contributing to the reputation of the University, as well as the intellectual life of retirees.
  • A “Journal of Opinions, Ideas and Essays” was established in 2013, as an open-access venue for publishing articles on a variety of scholarly, artistic, educational, and civic issues written by members of the University community, both retired and employed. JOIE has published thirty articles since its inception.
  • In 2017, UMRA and the Office of the Provost signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) demonstrating support for their respective missions, goals, and programs. Revised and renewed in 2022, the MOU has formalized UMRA’s home within the University’s Provost’s Office.
  • Included in the 2022 MOU was recognition of the reaffiliation of UMRA and the University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC). With over 500 registered volunteers prior to COVID and the reaffiliation, UMRA's Volunteer Center is now uniquely poised to address and positively impact  University and community needs.

As UMRA membership has grown (25 at inception, 420 in 1982, and approximately 700 in 2022) attendance at monthly luncheons has increased significantly. In 2018, UMRA was able to move its monthly luncheon meetings from the East Wing of the Campus Club (which had accommodated UMRA for over 30 years) to the more spacious and stately West Wing.

Though the organization was able to maintain a very full schedule of Zoom activities during COVID, many are looking forward to the return of on campus programming in 2022-23.

 -- Jerry Rinehart, UMRA Past President,  and Co-Chair of the Continuity Committee
 -- Will Craig, UMRA Board Member

  published April 22, 2022