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James Madison University Staff Emeriti Association

2015 Year End Report

The Staff Emeriti Association pilot program was a success!  Sponsored by James Madison University Human Resources, a Steering Committee was established of five members (Christina Updike, Mike Lam, Mary Lynne Smith, Gail May and Nancy Dove) who met regularly throughout 2015 with Diane Yerian, Director of HR, and members of her staff to establish a purpose for the SEA, set goals for the year, and plan events for the membership.

Purpose: The Staff Emeriti Association is a multifaceted organization open to all retired full-time classified employees who have been granted Emerita or Emeritus status by the JMU President. The organization provides an opportunity for Staff Emeriti to continue association with colleagues and to maintain ties to the University. The SEA is a professional and social organization that encourages the interaction of Staff Emeriti through a wide variety of activities. 

Goals: The Steering Committee discovered that there was a lack of awareness for the Staff Emeriti designation and a need for an Association to maintain contact with these retirees.  They discussed measures to increase awareness on the JMU campus and highlight the process for being granted the status. The following goals were identified for the Association and accomplished during the year:

  1. Create Awareness: A Staff Emeriti Association website was created and the Association’s link added to JMU’s A-Z Index Directory (https://www.jmu.edu/staffemeriti/). The website includes Meeting Minutes; the Association’s purpose; event news and photo gallery; the Staff Emeriti Policy with eligibility requirements, and the process necessary to become recognized as a Staff Emeriti; Staff Emeriti benefits; and links to other on-campus events.  A shared mailbox was established for member communications and for individuals to submit questions and comments (staffemeriti@jmu.edu). The committee wrote and published an article on page 5 of the September HR Horizons regarding the Staff Emeriti designation and the newly formed Association (https://www.jmu.edu/humanresources/cpc/_files/september15-hrhorizons.pdf).
  2.  Update Staff Emeriti membership list:  After obtaining the current list of JMU affiliates with the staff emeriti designation from Steve Smith, Associate VP in Constituent Relations, the committee worked throughout the year to verify contact information and maintain communication with current and new staff emeriti.  
  3.  Organize events for the Association: Four SEA events were planned and enthusiastically attended this year: Spring reception and Lisanby Gallery talk at the JMU Festival Center; Summer dinner and music at Cross Keys Vineyard; Fall reception and JMU Planetarium program; and Winter gathering at the JMU Women’s Basketball opening game with dinner afterwards.  The response to these events were terrific.  Out of 122 members 68 responded positively with 47 members attending at least one event.  This is a 56% response rate. Enthusiasm for the continued development of the SEA was expressed by attendees throughout the year at each event.  
  4.  Develop a collegial relationship with the JMU Faculty Emeriti: Throughout the year, communication was maintained with Violet Allain, FEA President and Sherry King, Director of Parent Relations, as the SEA pilot project progressed.  This culminated in a joint Holiday Gala held in December sponsored by the FEA.  Nineteen Staff Emeriti and guests attended.  Tina Updike provided a recap of the SEA pilot project at the event. 
  5.  Pursue a volunteer activity: The SEA is aware of the Madison Plan’s commitment to volunteerism, and set a goal to carry out one volunteer activity at JMU to give back to the University. The committee made progress identifying several volunteer opportunities for next year: helping with Choices, participating in The Big Event, or helping with Fall Open Houses.
  6.  Other items: Kathy Sarver, JMU Development, became a member of the Steering Committee and serves as a liaison to the SEA.  She has been very helpful with event planning and as a resource person.   A Staff Emeriti link was added to the current JMU HR Benefit’s page.

The current Steering Committee members will continue in 2016 and new members will be added so that a wide variety of interests are presented.  Goals for the upcoming year have been identified: to establish a governance structure; to coordinate a volunteer activity; to grow the Association by developing a brochure and logo for the SEA to reach all potential members; and to continue to increase awareness by writing an article for Madison Magazine.

After one year, we highly recommend that the initiative be continued based on the expressed interest and value the Association brings to JMU’s Staff Emeriti retirees.  Thank you for the opportunity to organize!

Respectfully submitted, January 15, 2016:

Christina Updike, Nancy Dove, Mike Lam, Gail May, Mary Lynne Smith

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