The Staff Emeriti Association just completed its fifth successful year as an approved JMU organization!  SEA is sponsored by the Office of Human Resources, with Director Chuck Flick providing funding and staffing support.  We greatly appreciate our HR connection and especially the support given by the Director, his assistant Amanda Thomas, the retirement specialist Tiffany French and web support by Reagan Neese. Kathy Sarver, Director of Planned Giving, serves as our liaison to that office. Kathy regularly attends our committee meetings and membership events. We are grateful for her advice and support. 

In January, three new members were added to the SEA Steering Committee for a total of nine members serving this year: Christina Updike (chair), Jane Beach, Rosemary Brenner, Norma Burkholder, Alma Hale-Cooper, Gail May, Barbara Monger, Louise White and Milla Sue Wisecarver. The Steering Committee met regularly (5 times) throughout 2019 to work on the 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 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 nomination procedure was prepared and emailed to all academic and non-academic unit heads during spring and fall semester. The email letter includes a link to the SEA brochure, which was redesigned and updated this year. A total of 484 Director level administrators received the biannual communication. 
  2. Limited Opportunity for Staff Emeriti Status Designations: In 2018, 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.”  A total of 10 retirees earned the Staff Emeriti designation under this program. 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.  New this year, the President's Offices sends the Chair of the SEA Steering Committee a copy of the Staff Emeriti approval letters signed by the President. This facilitates the SEA mailing a new member packet in a timely manner and adding that member to the SEA database. 
    A Staff Emeriti Association column is a regular feature in JMU’s Madison Magazine, which is published three times a year, to highlight our activities throughout the year.  We send the copy for the article and and photographs for each issue to the editors. 
    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 190 staff emeriti; 29 were added in 2019.

  4. Organize events for the Association: This year, we continued our monthly dutch-treat luncheon series, which has increased member participation by having more frequent events for networking. Several luncheons were combined with a speaker, tour, or learning component.  Twelve SEA events were planned and enthusiastically attended this year: 
  • January luncheon at Bella Mia.
  • February luncheon at Union Station, with presentation by Rodney Wolfenbarger, Director of the Lifelong Learning Institute, on their spring offerings.
  • March luncheon at Rocktown Kitchen, held after members attended a LLI Brown Bag lecture.
  • April luncheon at Ruby's Arcade with access to games.
  • May luncheon with address by President Jonathan Alger on the “State of the University” at E-Hall’s Montpelier room, sponsored by the Office of Human Resources. This event draws our largest attendance.
  • June luncheon at the Cracked Pillar's Pub outdoor pavilion, Bridgewater.
  • July dinner at Jalapeno Southwest Grill, Bridgewater.
  • August tour and luncheon at JMU's D-Hall. Tour led by food service director Matthew Gardner.
  • September luncheon at O'Neill's Grill.
  • October luncheon at Traditions.
  • November luncheon at the Hotel Madison's Montpelier restaurant, followed by a guided tour of the newly renovated Wilson Hall on the JMU campus.
  • December Holiday luncheon at Village Inn, with a presentation by Phillip Updike, LLI Membership Chair on the upcoming spring semester of classes and events. 

    For the year, we had 192 attendees total; an average of 16 per event with the last 5 months averaging 19 per event. Our highest attendances occurred with President Alger's address and our Holiday luncheon. Enthusiasm for the continued development of the SEA was expressed by attendees throughout the year. 

  • 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 participating in 3 volunteer activities. Members hosted an information table at a CHOICES event in early April and an information table at the JMU Employee Appreciation Day the second week of May. A new event was added this year, the annual Retirement Fair hosted by Human Resources. SEA volunteers spoke to attendees, answered questions by soon-to-be retirees and handed out our new brochures. During the Fair's luncheon, SEA member Wanda Layman served on the retiree panel.

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.

All Steering Committee members will return to sever in 2020. During this year, other SEA members will be cultivated to serve next year. 

Respectfully submitted: 
Christina Updike (chair), Jane Beach, Rosemary Brenner, Norma Burkholder, Alma Hale-Cooper, Gail May, Barbara Monger, Louise White and Milla Sue Wisecarver.

January 30, 2020

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