Hello Emeriti and Retirees:
It’s my honor to be the 2021 president of the UNL Emeriti and Retirees Association. Many thanks are owed to those who have filled this position before. I especially thank Don Weeks for his leadership in 2020. Don stepped into the role somewhat unexpectedly in late 2019 and he kept us on even keel.
I am tired of the words “unprecedented,” “pivot” and “pandemic,” yet they are entrenched in our language now, thanks to COVID-19. I applaud the association board and our membership for being flexible and gracious as we waded through closures, lockdowns, shutdowns, masks and now, we hope, the prospect of a vaccine that will allow us to cautiously find a new normal. In the meantime, we will continue to meet via Zoom format to keep us safe.
The good news to report is that your leadership team had very productive meetings with both Chancellor Ronnie Green and NU President Ted Carter. We are lucky to have visionary thinkers at the university, and both have expressed interest in working with an engaged Emeriti and Retirees Association to help advance the university as we all move forward. We also had great meetings this past fall with interesting speakers. And we as usual honored several faculty with Wisherd Awards.
Kudos to Rita Kean, who helped craft an agreement with OLLI to allow our members to take their on-line classes during certain course periods without being OLLI-members. And thanks to Alfred Stark, who has done wonderful work on our webpage, listservs and other IT-backshop work that keeps the association running smoothly. Julie Johnson, Doug Jose and Charlyne Berens do a tremendous job on the newsletters. We have, alas, placed our coffee chats on hold; Jane Zatechka and Rita Weeks were doing a great job organizing those.
We also said thanks to Kay Rockwell, who this year has retired from the board. Since her retirement from UNL more than 10 years ago, Kay organized tours of various university buildings and programs, which were popular and fun for ERA members.
Thanks also to Jim Griesen and Julie Johnson for their work on updating our bylaws. We welcomed to the board Lloyd Ambrosius, Dora Dill, Chuck Hibberd and Tom Hoegmeyer. And we bid farewell to past president Jeff Keown who has been a steady presence, and John Bernthal who has completed his terms.
We have a few priorities for 2021.
• We continue to work with the university to find ways to allow surviving spouses of faculty to have temporary access to email accounts in the event of the faculty member’s death or incapacity. This will allow family to transfer those accounts and their contents to a non-university email system. Don Weeks is heading this effort.
• We are exploring offering seminar or workshop series on helping colleagues transition to retirement and find new identity and meaning as retirees. Often retirement planning looks at the important facets of financial security, insurance and other elements, but the mental and emotional preparation for this big change is equally important to make a successful move into retirement.
• And we will continue to explore ways to work with the university to help support students, perhaps through mentoring opportunities, and through Big Red Resilience. Linda Major is championing this initiative.
Finally, giant applause and thanks to Pat Crews, who not only did a great job managing the Wisherd Awards process but who also graciously accepted nomination as President Elect. Part of that job is organizing our monthly meetings. Here’s the schedule for Spring Semester. Watch your email for the Zoom links. We will, as usual, have a short business meeting prior to the speaker and open the Zoom room early to allow for conversation. The speaker start times are flexible, depending on the business meeting agenda but the goal is to keep those business meetings short.
Tuesday, Jan. 19: Zoom room opens at 12:30, business meeting at 12:45, speaker at 1 p.m.
“COVID-19 Vaccines” –James Lawler, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine; Director, International Programs and Innovation, Global Center for Health Security; and Director, Clinical and Biodefense Research, University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Tuesday, Feb. 16, Zoom room opens at 11:30 a.m., business meeting at 11: 45, speaker at noon.
“Nebraska Extension Responds: Floods, Blizzards, Droughts and Pandemics” – Dr. Charles Hibberd, Dean and Director Emeritus, Nebraska Cooperative Extension, IANR
Thursday, March 18, Zoom room opens at 11:30 a.m., business meeting at 11: 45, speaker at noon.
“Climate Change,” Dr. Don Wilhite, professor and director emeritus, Drought Mitigation Center, UNL School of Natural Resources
Wednesday, April 14, Zoom room opens at 11:30 a.m., business meeting at 11: 45, speaker at noon
“The buzz about bees: research updates and education efforts across Nebraska and beyond,” Dr. Judy Wu-Smart, Extension & Research Entomologist, CASNR
I hope to see many of you this Spring as we Zoom through the semester.
Emeriti and Retirees Association