The Staff Emeriti Association just completed its fourth successful year as an approved JMU organization!  SEA is sponsored by the Office of Human Resources, with Director Diane Yerian providing funding and staffing support.  In January, one new member was added to the SEA Steering Committee and three completed their terms for a total of seven members serving this year: Christina Updike (chair), Jane Beach, Norma Burkholder, Alma Hale-Cooper, Mike Lam, Gail May, and Milla Sue Wisecarver.  The Steering Committee met regularly (7 times) throughout 2018 with Lisa Hajdasz, Assistant to the Director of HR, to work on the goals for the year, and plan events for the membership.  We greatly appreciate our HR connection and especially the support given by the Director and her assistant.  Kathy Sarver, Director of Planned Giving, serves as our liaison to that Office.  She regularly attends our committee meetings and events and we are grateful for her advice and support.

Purpose: The Staff Emeriti Association is a multifaceted organization open to all retired full-time classified employees who have earned Emerita/us status and are approved by the JMU President. The organization provides an opportunity for Staff Emeriti to continue to be engaged with colleagues and to maintain ties to the University. SEA is a professional and social organization that encourages the engagement of Staff Emeriti through a wide variety of activities. 

Goals: The Steering Committee identified that there was a lack of awareness for the Staff Emeriti designation both on campus and in the community and a need for an Association to maintain contact with these retirees.  Our focus this year was to continue to increase awareness on the JMU campus by highlighting the process for being granted the designation and to provide quality programming to engage the membership. The following goals were identified for the Association and accomplished during the year:

  1. Communicate with Administrators: A letter providing information on the Staff Emeriti designation outlining the new 2017 nomination procedure was prepared and emailed to all academic and non-academic unit heads during spring semester. As established last year, there is a yearly email notification schedule of April and then November for Director level administrators.  The second email letter with a link to the SEA brochure was sent in mid-November.
  2. Limited Opportunity for Staff Emeriti Status Designations: The SEA worked with the Director of HR and Senior Administration to establish a limited opportunity for staff emeriti nominations for retirees prior to 2016, who met the criteria for the designation, but were not nominated in a timely manner. The following policy was communicated to all supervisors at JMU.  “An individual who was employed prior to 2016[1] as a full-time staff member at James Madison University will have a unique opportunity to gain emeritus status if nominated by their former supervisor between September 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019.  A full-time staff member who retired prior to 2016 can, for a limited time, be nominated by their former supervisor[2] for emeritus status if the individual served full-time for a minimum of 10 years at JMU, had a record of noteworthy contributions throughout his or her JMU career and retired from JMU in good standing. To nominate an eligible employee who retired before 2016, supervisors must complete the Recommendation for Emeritus Status  form along with a justification statement  between September 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019. Nominations received by February 28 will be processed through the spring semester, for final approval no later than June 1, 2019.”  We are grateful to the JMU administration for implementing this unique opportunity.
  3. Increase Awareness on campus and for members: The Staff Emeriti Association website was maintained and updated throughout the year. ( The website includes Steering Committee meeting minutes; the Association’s purpose and Bylaws; event news and photo gallery; the Staff Emeriti Policy with eligibility requirements and the nomination process to receive the designation; Staff Emeriti benefits; and links to other on-campus events.  A Welcome Message by President Jon Alger along with an updated Welcome Message by Christina Updike, Steering Committee chair opens the website.  The shared mailbox was used for member communications and for individuals to submit questions and comments. (
    During the year, all new Staff Emeriti receive a mailing consisting of our brochure, a letter from the Steering Committee chair, and a response card requesting contact information and permission to contact along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.  The response card queries communication and participation preferences.  The responses are used to plan activities each year.  An HR staff member receives all incoming Staff Emeriti approval letters, and then a new member packet with SEA information is mailed in a timely manner.  In April, current members were mailed the new permission card to gather the most up-to-date contact information.
    A Staff Emeriti Association column has been added to JMU’s Madison Magazine to highlight our activities throughout the year.  We send copy and pictures for each issue, which is published three times a year.
    With these efforts, there has been an increase in staff emeriti nominations submitted by supervisors for qualifying retirees and approved by the President.  There are now 165 staff emeriti.
  4. Organize events for the Association: This year, a new monthly luncheon series was instituted to increase member participation by having more frequent events for networking. Several luncheons combined with a speaker, tour, or learning component.  Twelve SEA events were planned and enthusiastically attended this year: 
  • January DUO workshop, a joint event with the Faculty Emeriti Association.
  • February/March luncheon at Union Station (February was snowed out).
  • April luncheon at O’Neill’s Grill.
  • May luncheon with address by President Jonathan Alger on the “State of the University” at E-Hall’s Montpelier room.
  • June luncheon with artist Claudia Bernardi speaking about the “Walls of Hope” mural at the JMU Center for Global Engagement.
  • July luncheon at Ruby’s Arcade with access to games.
  • August luncheon at Vito’s Italian.
  • September luncheon at Beyond.
  • October luncheon at Thomas House.
  • November tour of the new Hotel Madison and Shenandoah Valley Conference Center and luncheon in the Hotel’s Montpelier restaurant.
  • December Holiday Gala, which is a joint event with the Faculty Emeriti Association at Festival Center ballroom.
    Out of 165 members, 40% of the membership attended at least one event with an average attendance of 18 per event.  Enthusiasm for the continued development of the SEA was expressed by attendees throughout the year.  The luncheon with President Alger speaking will become an annual event
  • Pursue a volunteer activity: SEA is aware of the Madison Plan’s commitment to volunteerism and set a goal to carry out at least one volunteer activity at JMU to give back to the University. SEA exceeded this goal by hosting an information table at a JMU CHOICES event in early April and hosting an information table at the JMU Employee Appreciation Day the second week of May, where committee members spoke to attendees and handed out our new brochures.


Goals for the upcoming year will continue to be:

  1. Focus on membership development through increased communication and engaging the membership in new activities.
  2. Coordinate a volunteer activity.
  3. Increase awareness of the SEA on the JMU campus and in the community.

One member’s term ends on the Steering Committee in December 2018 (Mike Lam) and three new members (Rosemary Brenner, Barbara Monger, Louise White) will join in January 2019.

 Respectfully submitted: 

Christina Updike (chair), Jane Beach, Norma Burkholder, Alma Hale-Cooper, Mike Lam, Gail May, and Milla Sue Wisecarver.

January 30, 2019

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