Emeriti Professors Julie Johnson and John Bernthal attended the Big Ten Retirees Association Conference on August 8-9th hosted by the University of Minnesota Immediately following, Dr. Johnson attended the national AROHE meeting (Association of Retired Organizations in Higher Education) also hosted by the University. The Big Ten Retirees Conference in 2016 will be hosted by UNL.
The theme of this year's conference was Retiree-University Synergy and emphasized the importance of retirees and retiree organizations finding ways to provide sustained value to their university. The Conference also explored strategies on how universities can support and use their retirees. Panels discussed (1) a professional grants program for emeriti engaged in research, (2) a Retiree's Volunteer Center which focuses on recruiting and matching volunteers for needed university projects, (3) meeting with university administrators and determining how emeriti and retired professionals can help with issues facing the university, and (4) the value of communication and the use newsletters. A closing session was devoted to sharing best practices as well as issues of concern on each campus.
The AROHE Conference dealt with a similar theme, Colleges, Universities and Retirees: Building Connections. Topics included: (1) the evolution of retirement organizations and how to continually change and update, (2) connecting retirees with on-campus volunteer opportunities, (3) student mentoring for recruitment and retention by emeriti faculty, (4) legacy scholarships, (5) transitioning faculty through stages of retirement (pre-retirement, retirement, and post-retirement), (6) building relationships on and off campus, and (8) emeriti participation as volunteers. The Retiree's Volunteer Center at the University of Minnesota connects emeriti with projects such as serving as jurors for mock trials, assisting blood donation centers, participating as research subjects, working at food pantries, mentoring international students, and ushering at university events.
Weekend activities also showcased the Minnesota campus. Attendees learned about a variety of special programs/facilities including a recently constructed Science and Teaching Student Service building which included a dozen state-of-the-art active learning classrooms. They also crossed the Mississippi River that bisects the campus on a pedestrian bridge providing an excellent view of the architecturally unique Weisman Art Museum.
Johnson and Bernthal will share what they learned at the conference to improve and enhance emeriti programs at UNL.