2011-2012 End-of-Year Report

Retired Faculty Association
End of Year Report, 2011-2012

Phoebe S. Liebig, President

 The purpose of the RFA is to promote the well-being, interests and concerns of retired faculty and to support the University’s vision and goals, in collaboration with the Emeriti Center and the Staff Retirement Association. Membership in the RFA includes all who have been full- or part-time USC faculty in one or more academic ranks and who have been identified by the Office of the Provost as having retired. Current faculty members in the above academic ranks wishing to activate an RFA membership prior to retirement are welcome to do so. The spouse or partner of a living or deceased RFA member also can become an active RFA member. A partner is one who is legally recognized as such by the laws of the State of California.

Fiscal Highlights

On June 30, 2011 – 732 members, including 72 spouses/partners, had paid annual dues of $20. In addition, members contributed almost $4,000 to the RFA’s Robert P. Biller Endowment Fund; $5,200 to the Caldwell Scholarship Fund; and $7,170 for general operations. As of July 1, 2011, the RFA Board approved a 2011-2012 operating budget of $22,000. At the end of this reporting year, a budget of $26,500 was approved for the coming academic year (2012-2013).

Leadership Changes

This year began with Bob Baker as President. Unfortunately, health problems necessitated Bob’s resignation as President in October; however, he has remained a Board member. The Vice-President/President Elect, Phoebe Liebig, assumed the presidency. Both she and Immediate Past President John Orr agreed to serve for the remainder of 2011-2012 in those capacities and for 2012-2013. While also serving as RFA Treasurer, Bill Petak was approved as President/Elect, an action subsequently confirmed by RFA members in the spring election.

New 2011-2012 Initiatives

A. RFA Strategic Vision 2022. During this year, the RFA created an ad hoc committee to develop a strategic vision based on the University’s stated goals for 2022. Two representatives (Art Donovan and Phoebe Liebig) attended the January Academic Senate/Provost retreat. After several Board and Executive Committee discussions, this new committee, comprising the Executive Committee and Art Donovan, was established to create a guide to future RFA goals and priorities over the next decade. Key themes include: innovation, technology, international/global and interdisciplinary emphases, and self/lifelong learning. Demographic data have revealed that nearly 30% of RFA members are age 85+, with implications for RFA programs and outreach. It is anticipated that a summary of the Vision will be available to RFA members via the RFA website for comment at the annual meeting in Spring, 2013 and by email. A final website in the early part of 2013-2014.

B. Website Revision. Working with ITS and the Emeriti Center, a major revision of content and format was undertaken, starting in the summer of 2011. Phoebe Liebig generated much of the new content, with John Orr as webmaster. Updated information is now provided on a timely basis by RFA committee chairs. The Communications Committee, headed by John Orr and Bob Baker, and other Board members have made suggestions about format that is easier to read. These will be shared with ITS as a basis for new revisions. Bob Stallings, RFA secretary, created a blog that is integrated with the RFA website and Twitter (http//

C. Assistive Hearing Systems. John Orr developed a proposal to address the need for improved technology on campus for faculty, staff, students and visitors with hearing impairments. He and Bob Scales conducted extensive research on the newest assistive listening system (ASL) technology and devices. Emeriti Center and RFA purchases of equipment for USC retiree events and a key campus location, as well as collaboration with University offices charged with accommodating persons with disabilities, will contribute to the quality of on-campus life and learning.

D. Retiree Travel Program. Suggestions from the Widow/Widowers Committee last year were the basis for a multi-day travel option to provide opportunities for new and stronger connections with other USC retirees. Art Donovan and other members of the Emeriti Center Benefits and Resources Committee explored several regional travel possibilities. In April, 20 retirees (of whom nearly half were singles) enjoyed 4 days at USC’s Wrigley Institute. Traveler feedback was uniformly positive; other 3-5 day regional trips, probably twice a year, are being planned.

E. Enhanced Participation in University Initiatives. As part of the RFA goal to be a more visible member of the Trojan Family, activities have included contributions to USC’s Neighborhood Campaign and the Robert Biller Scholarship Fund of the School of Policy, Planning and Development (now the Price School of Policy) and higher levels of support for the Caldwell Scholars fund. John Orr served as RFA liaison to the University Senate and brought their attention to the continued decline in the awarding of emeriti status. He provided monthly reports about the Senate’s proceedings at RFA Board meetings.

In addition, the RFA has become more engaged in providing input to USC’s new goals and activities, such as Strategic Vision 2022 and changes in General Education requirements Additionally, Bob Stallings, with Janette Brown, Emeriti Center Director, is providing input concerning retired faculty profiles in the developing USC Faculty Career Records Management program. Professional activities of retirees will be part of this new record keeping system.

F. Outreach Program. An ad hoc committee was appointed to explore ways for the RFA to strengthen connections with spouses and partners of retired faculty members, through informal gatherings in particular geographic areas or neighborhoods with high numbers of retirees, such as “drop in” coffees and book clubs in Pasadena or Rancho Palos Verdes. Yvonne Biller, Bob Coffey, John Orr and Ruberta Weaver agreed to lead this effort. Plans are underway to develop specific kinds of events and recruit other RFA members and/or spouses and partners to launch this new venture.

RFA Committees

Most RFA Board members serve on more than one committee. They are joined by a handful of other RFA members. Our goal is to expand participation in the coming year.

A. Nominating Committee. Chaired by Art Donovan, this committee made recommendations to the Board in February. Elections were conducted electronically and results presented at the RFA Annual Meeting in March. The 2012-2013 officers will be: Phoebe Liebig, President; John Orr, Past President; Bill Petak, Vice-President/President Elect, and Jim Halls as Treasurer. Bob Stallings continued as Secretary. Hazel Lord was elected as a new at-large member; Natalie Cohen, Ken Williams and Jack Sanders returned in that capacity. Steb Chandor and Jack Wills were thanked for their many years of RFA Board service.

B. Finance Committee. Headed by Bill Petak, this ad hoc committee proposed financial goals and strategies and developed the annual budget proposal for 2012-2013 with reference to the emerging RFA Strategic Vision and the RFA’s core missions. The Board approved a bigger budget for 2012-2013 to reflect support for new activities, such as the installation of a hearing loop system, and stronger support for the Caldwell Scholarship program.

C. Ombudsman/Advocacy Committee. Natalie Cohen replaced Bob Coffey as chair of this ad hoc committee, created to assist individual retired faculty with problems that may relate to University policies and procedures, seek solutions that affect all retirees, and advance proposals that may be of interest to RFA members. Accessing University library and electronic resources, clarifying application procedures for achieving emeriti status, and advocating for University-related housing for retirees were major activities. This last item was deemed infeasible for the time being.

D. Program and Events Committee. Co-chairs Jack Crossley and Ruberta Weaver coordinated several events. These included 5 Sherry Hours, held in Doheny Library and the Fisher Museum for RFA and Staff Retirement Association (SRA) members, spouses or partners. Topics ranged from legal rights in a multicultural society to longevity in different human societies, and student art at USC. Special arrangements were made for attendance at Visions & Voices events such as the Metropolitan Opera HD screenings and lectures on medical ethics. Retirees also attended special dinners preceding USC theatrical performances.

E. Scholarship Committee. Informally known as the Caldwell Scholars Committee, co-chairs Kaaren Hoffman and Victor Marshand Webb planned two luncheons attended by undergraduate students receiving support from this scholarship program, RFA Board members and key USC administrators and staff. In the fall, students reported on their summer experiences and talked about the upcoming year; in the spring, they revealed their plans for graduation or their next year at USC. Mentoring relationships between the Scholars and RFA members have been established over the last two years. A brochure describing this program was designed and proposals for raising additional funding beyond RFA contributions were proposed. The active faculty-staff payroll deduction program proposed last year is still pending.

F. Communications Committee. This committee continues to have primary responsibility for the ways the RFA communicates with its members and the entire USC retiree community. Co-chairs John Orr and Bob Baker provided oversight for the RFA’s annual dues/contributions solicitation, the birthday and sympathy card program, information found in the Retiree Newsletter, and the RFA website. The RFA Board approved a change in the birthday card program. All USC retired faculty will receive e-mail greetings; cards will be mailed to active dues-paying RFA members. Jack Sanders, RFA Board member, and Bob Scales, Emeriti Center Associate Director, are in charge of this modified program.

G. Widows/Widowers/Surviving Partners Committee. Under the guidance of Ruberta Weaver, this committee recommended abandoning that specific name. The Board approved their request, noting that the new travel program also included single retirees. The activities of the new Outreach Committee, noted above, will assume the roles played by this earlier committee.

H. Committee on University Service and Awards. Under the leadership of Jim Halls, in collaboration with Jerry Walker of the Emeriti Center, this committee identified retired faculty members who expressed willingness to serve on University Committees and a list was submitted to the Office of the Provost. Committee members are also encouraged to submit nominees for the Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award, the Paul E. Hadley Faculty Award and the J. Tillman Hall Staff Award to USC, all of which honor special service after retirement. Allan G. Redeker, MD received the Hadley Faculty Award in November at the Provost’s Luncheon for retired faculty, while the Tillman Award was presented posthumously to Mitzi Tsujimoto in March.

RFA Relations with the Emeriti Center/Emeriti Center College

A. Service on the Emeriti Center (EC) Executive Committee. Five RFA Board members served as members of this committee: Natalie Cohen, Art Donovan, Phoebe Liebig, John Orr and Bob Stallings. They provided input on various issues or liaison to other USC entities: ombudsman/advocacy and the Academic Senate, benefits/travel, ITS and website design and maintenance, and technological advice and recommendations for the Center’s educational programs.

B. Participation in Major EC Projects. RFA members played important roles in three areas during 2011-2012. These included hands-on assistance in designing and promoting responses to the Faculty Retirement Transition Survey and in developing, writing and proof-reading the successful application to American Council of Education (ACE)/Sloan Foundation. Sloan award funds will be used to expand current activities and develop innovations to retirement programming at USC and nationally. Vice Provost Martin Levine, the Emeriti Center and the RFA will play key roles in the implementation of the “Sloan Project” over the next two years.

Individual retired USC faculty and staff served as advisory committee members and focus group participants for the New Life Stage project. This research on retirement is led by Helen Dennis, and emphasizes the higher education experience that is often neglected in most studies.

RFA members also served as resource persons for Emeriti Center publications, such as “Upon the Death of a Loved One.” and for transitions workshops offered during the past year. Together RFA and SRA members greeted their colleagues and others at the EC’s Hospitality tent at November’s Homecoming celebration. The RFA and SRA also contributed substantially to EC’s annual fundraising, generated by a matching program initiated by Sterling and Frank Sterling, through the Morris S. Smith Foundation.

C. Participation in Emeriti Center College (ECC) Programming. Under the auspices of the Emeriti Center College, Jack Wills, RFA Board member, and James Moore, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, continued to coordinate the Intergenerational Forum on Global Change. The Forum offered an opportunity for conversations about pressing contemporary issues. Undergraduate and graduate students and current and retired faculty and staff participate in these monthly forums during the academic year. The RFA also provided recommendations for possible speakers in ECC classes.

D. Membership on the RFA Board. Janette Brown, EC Executive Director, and Jerry Walker, ECC Director, are ex officio members of the RFA Board the RFA Board.

RFA Relations with the USC Staff Retirement (SRA) Association

 A. Reciprocal Board Membership. The SRA President, Dixon Johnson or his representatives (Jeanne and Bob Church or Dick Martin) served as ex officio members of the RFA Board. They presented monthly reports about SRA activities. RFA President Phoebe Liebig, designated Bob Stallings as her representative to serve as an ex officio member of the SRA Board.

B. Annual SRA/RFA Holiday Party. The sixth retiree holiday celebration was held on December 7 in Town and Gown. The event was attended by almost 250 SRA and RFA members and spouses/partners; the RFA contingent represented less than a third of attendees. SRA members, assisted by RFA Board members, welcomed their colleagues and the more than 200 pounds of professional clothing they brought to donate to the WorkSource closet. Musical entertainment was provided by the School of School of Music’s Parmer Fuller and student vocalists and a special gift from the two retiree organizations was presented to EC Executive Director Janette Brown by Vice Provost Martin Levine.

C. RFA Participation in SRA-Coordinated Activities. RFA members joined staff retirees in several events or activities arranged by SRA’s Dick Martin. These included day trips to the Huntington Library in Pasadena and the Banning Mansion in Wilmington and attendance at the annual School of Theatre musical, “City of Angels,” at the Bing Theatre.

RFA Contributions to USC Programs and Activities

A. Provost’s Faculty Retirement Recognition Luncheon. Serving as an agent of the Office of the Provost, the RFA organized this annual event on November 17, with the help of Gloria Reyes of the Emeriti Center. John Orr, RFA Past President, greeted the 13 honorees who attended with their family and friends. RFA President Phoebe Liebig described the aggregate 943 years of service provided by the 35 faculty who retired in 2010-2011. Provost Elizabeth Garrett reminded the retirees of their contributions to building USC’s solid foundation and identified several opportunities for continued learning and engagement with the University.

B. Attendance at Major Academic Events. The RFA actively recruited faculty members to attend the 31st USC Academic Honors Convocation in April. Three retired faculty received Lifetime Achievement Awards: Murray Fromson, William Rutherford and Carole Shammas. RFA members were also urged to attend commencement exercises in May as a group. Several attended the faculty breakfast before the exercises began and. more than 20 members marched in the procession along with the Half Century Trojans.

C. Post-Retirement Productivity. The RFA actively encouraged its members to serve as volunteers in a variety of University programs, such as functioning as mentors for USC undergraduate and graduate students and serving as research subjects. The early deliberations of the RFA Strategic Vision Committee identified a need for more effective marketing strategies to increase retired faculty participation in these activities.

The RFA also sought to identify colleagues who continue to pursue research and publication of those results. It also requested more publicity about seed funds available from the EC and ECC to support this continuing productivity.

D. Contributions to University Fundraising. During this past year, the RFA contributed $ 2,000 to the University’s Good Neighbors program. Constituting nearly 10% of its annual budget, the RFA was gratified to receive a letter from President Nikias acknowledging this donation. A total contribution of $7,200 to the Caldwell Scholars fund was made, an important step in providing financial assistance to students who are graduates of the ten neighborhood high schools near USC.

Relations with AROHE

A. Membership. The RFA maintains membership in the Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education, an international organization of retiree organizations at colleges and universities. A small number of RFA members and EC staff attended the annual meeting held in October.

B. Leadership. Janette Brown serves as the Executive Director of AROHE. She presented the AROHE survey of campus retirement organizations at more than 100 institutions in the United States and Canada at two conferences, one in Albany, New York and the other in Victoria, Canada.