Fortunately, groups such as the University of Saskatchewan Retirees Association (USRA) are there to make the transition a little easier.
Formed in 1989, USRA’s goals were initially pension reform—switching from defined to indexed—according to president Judith Henderson. Twenty-seven years later, the group now aims to promote the interests and welfare of the university’s retirees—both faculty and staff—while helping them maintain their ties to the institution.
“We still can have an advocacy role, but I think a lot of us want to stay in touch with the university,” said Henderson, herself a retired English professor who also previously served as assistant dean of student affairs and associate dean of humanities and fine arts in the College of Arts and Science. Maintaining that engagement after retirement can be tricky. For example, the U of S Alumni Association has a wide membership base, but many staff and faculty are not U of S alumni, she explained.
There are also those who retire outside of the city or province, but who are still members of USRA. “For those of us here, we have a lot of activities that keep us in touch with each other and we work hard to find ways to support the university,” she said.
USRA is open to retired faculty members, members of the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) union and exempt staff from the U of S and its federated and affiliated colleges. Contract research scientists from on-campus centres (such as the National Research Council) are also eligible to enrol in USRA.
Locally, aside from discounts at campus retail outlets, USRA offers a monthly luncheon series available to members. While some of the topics are pertinent to the demographic base, others focus on societal and political issues (such as the needs of Syrian refugees or the expectations of a new federal government). Other events are “things that are rather fun,” said Henderson, noting an upcoming luncheon on craft beer.
Regardless of the topic, explained Henderson, the point of the monthly gathering is to “help seniors stay active, both getting out to meet with friends and former colleagues but also stay involved.”
USRA also has an awards program, which recognizes retirees who remain active in their profession and their community.“Some members remain quite active with grants and labs,” she said. Others excel outside of the office, because “not every person who retires wants to continue professional work. Some of them are very active in serving society through the university and their community. We like to recognize those things.”