History and Mission
The Oregon State University Retirement Association (OSURA) promotes engagement among OSU retirees and between retirees and the University by providing information, programs, scholarships and volunteer service opportunities that contribute to a rewarding retirement and that support the University's mission.
To promote ongoing intellectual stimulation and activity.
To promote social interaction.
To promote volunteerism in the OSU community.
To provide a knowledgeable advocacy voice in support of retirees and of the University.
During the summer of 2001, a group of retired and actively employed OSU faculty and staff met to discuss the need for an OSU retirement association. Unlike most comparable institutions, OSU did not have an organization for retired faculty and staff. In September, 2001, a steering committee was formed. It included OSU retirees such as Kathy Meddaugh, George Keller, former Vice President for Research, and Bill Wilkins, former Dean of Liberal Arts, plus other retired and current administrators, faculty and staff. Extremely helpful to the committee was the active participation of Les Risser, wife of former OSU President Paul Risser. The Oregon State University Retirement Association (OSURA) received official recognition in December 2001 in a letter from President Risser, which granted OSURA affiliate status with the OSU Foundation, as required by OUS 580-046-00205.
OSURA's stated mission is to provide continuing collegial ties among OSU retirees, and between retirees and the University community, by providing opportunities for social interaction and support, ongoing intellectual growth, and service to the University. This is achieved through programs that bring retirees back on campus. The Association also works with campus units to provide opportunities for retirees to volunteer their lifetime of experience to current students and faculty. An early activity of the steering committee was working with OSU Continuing Education to develop a plan for a "Learning in Retirement" function for retirees. It was subsequently spun off as an independent program to serve a wider community audience that would include OSURA members as well as other retirees. The Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALL) is a peer-led, fees-paying cooperative which provides a wide variety of interesting courses.
Currently OSURA has over 425 active members. Membership is open to both retired and actively employed faculty and staff, spouses, surviving spouses, and domestic partners. On application and approval by the OSURA Board, retirees from other colleges and universities are eligible for membership. Annual dues are $20 per retiree or spouse. This is insufficient to cover expenses, so additional contributions are welcome from members to help cover costs. In the fall of 2003, the University provided a two-year grant to assist with newsletter production and mailing, and Website development and maintenance. This grant enables OSURA to better serve OSU retirees and the University.
Support from OSU's administration continues to be vital to the successful development of the organization. Following President Risser's departure to another institution, Interim President Tim White, speaking at the OSURA 2002 Annual Meeting, indicated support for the organization would continue. in an effort to enlist their support , a follow-up presentation was made by the OSURA Executive Officers to the Provost's Council in an effort to enlist their support. Soon after taking office, new President Ed Ray indicated his support for the organization. In 2005, the board applied to achieve permanent status as a recognized University organization. In May 2005, Provost Sabah Randhawa granted that request, thus “institutionalizing” OSURA with a regular budget and staff, which is based in University Advancement.
In 2002 and 2003, OSURA participated in meetings with representatives from university retirement associations in the Northwest region, held in conjunction with UWRA's Annual Festival. In addition to OSU and University of Washington, there were representatives from Portland State University, from Western, Central, and Eastern Washington State Universities, University of Idaho, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University . It was deemed undesirable to formalize another layer of association. However, the groups voted to continue meeting annually to provide mutual support. Of concern for all these organizations, including OSURA, is how to best serve its members.
Since its founding, OSURA has offered members the chance to volunteer at annual University events such as New Student Week and the Career Fairs. In a two week period in November 2004, 76 people filled 81 slots to hand out half of the over 19,000 new student ID cards.
Members have also been able to tour University departments such as Veterinary Medicine, the College of Education , the Clark Meat Center , the Bone Research Lab, the University Theatre, and the Linus Pauling Institute. They have attended a women's basketball game, a women's softball game, and a university play. In February 2004, OSURA and the Office of Human Resources co-sponsored “Retirement and Change: the Emotional Aspects”, comprising three workshops over a two week period .
It also sponsors an annual Golf Tournament and Party at the beginning of the school year.
Members receive two issues a year of the OSURA News & Views newsletter, an annual Retiree Directory, Terra the OSU Research Magazine, the annual President's Report and a Web site. Through the efforts of one board member, parking fees for emeritus faculty were reduced in 2004.
These tangible examples of mutual benefits for retirees and the University illustrate OSURA's vital role at OSU. But the intangibles that are nurtured through active involvement and support of a university which members have dedicated much of their working lives to cannot be adequately measured. The Oregon State University Retirement Association hopes to fulfill this role for all current and future OSU retirees.