History, Mission & Vision
Though the University of Cincinnati Emeriti Association had existed for several decades, activity and interest had waned to such an extent that by 2012 several emeriti were questioning whether the Association had a viable future. At that time the Association did little beyond sponsoring an annual welcome luncheon for new emeriti and presenting a few luncheon speakers each year. Other than that, the Association was virtually inactive. The group of concerned emeriti decided to undertake ways to revitalize the organization by collaborating with the University to increase the activities of the Emeriti Association, and promoting a general sense of camaraderie among emeriti. These efforts set the stage for a revitalization that proved to be highly successful.
Revitalization of the Emeriti Association
Led by Carl (Bert) Huether in 2013, an Emeriti Board of Directors was elected, a constitution was drafted, Bert was elected president, and the stage was set for this working Board to transform the Emeriti Association into a vibrant, energetic, creative organization.
Meetings of the Board occurred monthly on campus that included regular attendance by a liaison from the Provost’s Office. During his five years as president, Bert built a diverse Board of Directors by tapping emeriti who had been active leaders across the University. Working committees, on which all Board members were expected to serve, were created. Though it was decided not to collect dues, an “Emeriti Activities Fund” was established with the UC Foundation whereby emeriti could direct gifts.
New initiatives included the spring Recognition & Appreciation Dinner for new emeriti, co-sponsored with the Provost’s Office and the UC Foundation. An Oral History project was introduced involving interviews of emeriti, a project which is ongoing, through the A&S History and Journalism Departments. In addition, an Undergraduate Research Mentorship program was started which continues to fund emeriti/student partnerships.
The Association’s Transitions to Retirement Committee soon collaborated with three key UC components in an effort to improve retirement practices. Working in tandem with the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and the AAUP, they produced an improved HR website “Checklist” for pre-retirees, a “white paper” proposal on Phased Retirement, and Retirement Seminars. Implementation of these new initiatives led to the highly effective current Emeriti Pre-Retirement Mentoring program.
President Santa Ono encouraged the Emeriti Association to consider the creation of a “University Village” where retired faculty and alumni might live near campus. In 2015 a working group consisting of emeriti Board members, the University Architect, DAAP faculty members, several students, alumni and community developers was formed for the purpose of investigating this possibility. Previous work from 2008 by administrators and faculty, including Pat Mezinskis, regarding university-linked retirement communities was taken into consideration. Market researchers and retirement community builders were then consulted, and the results were presented to university leaders and members of the Board of Trustees. This project, however, did not move forward at the time. Three years later in 2018 Aaron Bartels, a developer with Trinitas, contacted the Emeriti Board with the desire to build senior housing in the Straight Street area. Consultation with Emeriti Board members continues today.
In addition to his service as president of the Association at UC, Bert Huether served for two terms on the Board of the Association for Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE). Through his interactions with various member organizations, Bert gleaned valuable information about Emeriti Centers and Colleges across the nation. In 2016 the Emeriti Board submitted a proposal, modeled after Emory University’s Emeritus College, to Provost Davenport for the creation of an Emeritus College with space on campus along with funding to hire a director and support staff. The goal was to establish a sustainable structure with professional staff to carry out the mission of the Emeriti Association, not subject to continual changes in volunteer officers and Board members. Although the administration did not provide physical space or the funding requested at that time, approval was granted for the establishment of this structure with the title Emeriti Center.
Emeriti Center Established
In 2016 Patricia Mezinskis, then Secretary of the Association, was appointed Interim Executive Director of the new Emeriti Center and served for eighteen months from November 2016 until June 2018. This appointment was a significant event in the history of the Association. Pat increased the visibility of the Association & Center and expanded relationships with administrators and faculty across the University. In September 2017, Pat published the first issue of the Emeriti Connection newsletter. Work on the Emeriti Association website was begun.
In 2018, Provost Nelson approved funding for a faculty member who would serve half-time as Executive Director of the Emeriti Association & Center. Professor Peter DePietro (CCM, Electronic Media Division) was hired as the first Executive Director in June 2018. Also at that time, Pat Mezinskis became the Association’s second president. When the Faculty Enrichment Center (FEC) opened in 2019, the Emeriti Association & Center was authorized to hold meetings there along with the other three component organizations: The Black Faculty Association, the Latino Faculty Association and the LGBTQ Faculty Association. The website was enhanced, and a YouTube channel offered captioned video of Luncheon Speakers and EmeriTalks, which consisted of in-depth interviews and discussions with prominent members of the Greater Cincinnati community.
Current active committees as listed on the website’s Committees page continue to advance the Association’s goals and create a wealth of intellectual, cultural, social, service, and health-promoting activities inviting emeriti participation. In 2021, the Board of the Emeriti Association established an Endowed Scholarship Fund to support underrepresented, first-generation undergraduate students. Emeriti faculty members continue to give generously to the UC Foundation by supporting myriad programs, scholarships and endeavors, thus strengthening connections between the Emeriti Association and the University.
The mission of the Emeriti Association of the University of Cincinnati is to advocate for the interests of emeriti, to provide intellectual and social opportunities to emeriti, and to strengthen ties between the emeriti and the university, local, national, and international communities.
The Emeriti Association & Center will become the organizational, social, and intellectual home for emeriti faculty, and a major resource for the University of Cincinnati that fully incorporates its emeriti into the life of the University.