But for Thomas Wilson, who is president of the USRA and welcomed the members of the University of Saskatchewan Non-Academic Retirees Association (USNARA) into the newly expanded group, the move heralds far more hopeful possibilities than it does concerns.
“Our current luncheon meeting venue, for example, has a maximum capacity of 44 people, and we’ve been knocking at the door of that number for the past several months,” he said. “We may well outgrow that and find another place to host our luncheons and speaker meetings. The same goes with our June barbecue and the awards banquet, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on that.
“They always say be careful what you wish for, but I think the overarching idea is that new members and new ways of looking at things will help us in looking at our mandates. There’s good and there’s challenges, but certainly the good parts outweigh the challenging ones.”
The USRA is a longstanding retirement group associated with the U of S, and was started as a means of promoting and safeguarding the interests of retirees and to provide a unifying bridge between its membership and the institution to which they devoted their careers.
The decision to dovetail the two organizations came as a result of the USNARA formally dissolving on Sept. 18. The USRA membership ultimately thought it better to bring the two groups together rather than risk seeing anyone fall through the cracks.
Former USRA president Judith Henderson, Mary Dykes and others led the negotiations, while University Secretary Beth Bilson donated her legal expertise, and the merger was completed.
Wilson said that the development will bring about few noticeable, immediate changes to the USRA, outside of a brief rewriting of its constitution to define membership as inclusive of retirees from outside of academia and the continuation of the USNARA pensions committee.
In the future, however, he said the door is very much open to more ideas for expansion, benefits and social gatherings.
“I know USNARA had weekly coffee meetings, I think at one of the malls here in town,” Wilson said.
“That seems like a perfectly reasonable idea, and I think that some new members may want to continue that. There are other ideas floating around that we may pursue as time goes on.”
In the end, Wilson said there’s no doubting that more people working together means better advantages for all.
“The opportunity to expand the number of members, I think, expands the number of good brains with good ideas for the organization moving forward,” he said. “The more good brains you have working on an idea, the more chances you have of solving it.”
HenryTye Glazebrook is a freelance writer and former U of S communications co-ordinator.