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James Madison University Staff Emeriti Association

2022 Year End Report

The Staff Emeriti Association just completed its eighth 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, and Julie Byers the benefits specialist.  Kathy Sarver, Director of Planned Giving, serves as our liaison to the Development Office.  Kathy regularly attends our Steering Committee meetings and membership events.  We are grateful for her advice and support.


The SEA Steering Committee members are: 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 meets regularly throughout the year to work on the goals for the year, and plan events for the membership.  This group of dedicated members continued to work on issues and maintained communication throughout the Covid pandemic.  Their dedicated leadership and vision are greatly appreciated!


Note on Covid years 2020-2021:  In March 2020, the university abruptly closed due to the worldwide Covid pandemic.  All face-to-face activities of the Staff Emeriti Association were halted for two years.  During that time period, the SEA Steering Committee members continued communications with the membership by email, welcomed new members with a mailed “Welcome Packet”, provided input to Michael Swartley, Director of Information Technolory and shared new JMU IT policies on use of e-ID’s and access to JMU email addresses, worked with V.P. Towana Moore and facilities management staff on updating the Staff Emeriti commemorative brick pavers project on the quad surrounding the James Madison statue project, and maintained campus and community contact through Madison Magazine articles published three times a year.  In early 2022, JMU resumed in-person classes, so the SEA Steering Committee began meeting together to plan in-person activities.


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:

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 (https://www.jmu.edu/staffemeriti/_files/sea-informational-brochure.pdf ).  All Director level administrators received the biannual communication.  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 290 staff emeriti; 30 were added in 2022.  During the Covid pandemic: 35 were added in 2020, and 43 added in 2021.

Increase Awareness on campus and for members: The Staff Emeriti Association website was maintained and updated throughout the year (https://www.jmu.edu/staffemeriti/).  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 staff emeriti mailbox was used for member communications and for individuals to submit questions and comments. (staffemeriti@jmu.edu)

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.  The President’s Office 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. The SEA article highlights our activities throughout the year.  We send the copy for the article and photographs for each issue to the editors.


During the year, informational emails are sent to the membership.  These included event invitations, how to order tickets for faculty-staff appreciation days at athletic events, JMU’s new virtual vehicle registration for staff emeriti permit parking, and other policies that affect retirees.  


Organize events for the Association: The SEA resumed in-person events in March after the Covid isolation years of 2020-2021.  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.  Ten SEA events were planned to begin in March and enthusiastically attended this year: 

  • March tour of JMU Mineral Museum and lunch at Vito’s Italian restaurant. (This event was cancelled due to inclement weather and rescheduled in June).
  • April luncheon on patio at Cross Keys Vineyard, Mt. Crawford.
  • May luncheon with address by Tim Miller, V.P. of Student Affairs on the “State of the University” at E-Hall’s Montpelier room, sponsored by the Office of Human Resources. (President Jon Alger was originally scheduled to speak, but Dr. Miller stepped in when the President notified us that he had a conflict, due to his attendance at an international conference).
  • June tour of JMU Mineral Museum led by Drs. Lance and Cynthia Kearnes, Geology professors and lunch at Vito’s Italian restaurant, Harrisonburg.
  • July luncheon at Cracked Pillar, Bridgewater.
  • August tour of Jennings Hall dormitory led by Holmes Browne, associate director of Residence Life and lunch at Island Wing Company, Harrisonburg.
  • September luncheon at Romano’s Italian Grill, McGaheysville.
  • October tour of the College of Business complex led by CoB Dean Dr. Michael Busing and Kristen Herring, building manager and lunch at O’Neill’s, Harrisonburg.
  • November tour of the Lisanby Gallery’s Japanese art exhibition led by Ginny Soenksen, Director of the Madison Art Collection and Lisanby Museum and lunch at the Taste of Thai, Harrisonburg.
  • December Holiday luncheon at Cross Keys Vineyard, Mount Crawford.


For the year, we had 230 attendees total: an average of 25 per event.  Our highest attendances occurred with V.P Tim Miller’s address (37) and our Holiday luncheon (46).  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 two volunteer activities.  Members hosted a CHOICES information station on April 1st greeting prospective new students and their parents to campus.  A new event was added in June this year, the first annual Staff Retirement Breakfast hosted by Human Resources.  Eighty new retirees from 2019-2021 were recognized at the event.  SEA Steering Committee members greeted the new retirees and handed out our brochures and registration/contact cards to staff emeriti designees.


Goals for 2023 are:

  1. Continue to focus on membership development through increased communication and engaging the membership in new activities.
  2. Coordinate a new volunteer activity. The SEA will adopt JMU’s The Pantry.  After consultation with Jeremy Hawkins, Asst. Director of Off Campus Life and Kathy Sarver, Director of Planned Giving, support will be in the form of monetary donations and needed supplies.  This project will be promoted at all SEA events, through informational emails to the membership, and on the SEA website.
  3. Maintain awareness of the SEA on the JMU campus and in the community.


All Steering Committee members will return to serve in 2023; however, a few will be completing their terms of office this year.  During the 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.

February 8, 2023

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