USC

Imagining the RFA of 2022

IMAGINING THE RFA OF 2022

 The Retired Faculty Association (RFA) of the University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1949.  Since then, its purpose has been to promote the well-being of its members and contribute to their collegiality and intellectual and social interests, as well as support the mission and goals of the university.  Today, it champions active post-retirement participation in university life, respect for and acknowledgment of continued intellectual and creative productivity in the later years, and heightened visibility as vital members of the Trojan Family.

In January 2012, the Provost/Academic Senate Retreat featured discussion of the USC’s Strategic Vision.  Key concepts were innovation, globalization, interdisciplinary, self-directed/lifetime learning, and technology.  The RFA Board of Directors subsequently decided to develop a Strategic Vision to guide its current

and future programs and activities.  This document serves as a blueprint for the RFA’s intellectual and social endeavors and activities as advocates and volunteers.

The RFA already is a key resource for the longer, healthier, and more interesting “fourth quarter” of life enjoyed by many of our retired faculty through advocacy, opportunities for cultural and intellectual enrichment and human connection, and support for increased engagement with USC’s diverse student body.  However, we believe the RFA can do more to promote our members’ well-being and to advance  USC’s aspirations and achievements.

The RFA in 2022 will be a major resource for the university and for the Emeriti Center in the intellectual and social lives of USC retired faculty and their spouses/partners or widows/widowers.  It will also be an advocate for maintenance and enhancement of retired faculty rights and privileges.  Not only will it facilitate interconnections among retired faculty to the university but also strengthen ties between the university and its retired faculty.  The RFA and the entire retiree community represent and give voice to one of the most important global demographic trends of the 21st century and beyond, population aging.

 The RFA Strategic Vision includes priorities for the immediate future (2014–2016).  In the years after 2016, other programs and activities will be undertaken.  Some are new programs, now underway; others are expansions or continuations of existing activities.  To implement these efforts, the RFA will collaborate with the entire USC retiree community: the Emeriti Center, the Emeriti Center College, and the Staff Retirement Association.  It will also seek guidance from and establish/expand partnerships with the Provost’s Office, other relevant administrative and support offices, and various academic units.

 

INTELLECTUAL FOCUS

 Research and Teaching

Retired faculty have spent their working years engaged in research and its dissemination through teaching, publication and practice/community service.  As cited in USC’s Strategic Vision, continuing faculty education is vital for academic  excellence.  In retirement, research inquiry and teaching/mentoring do not necessarily end, nor does the quest for new learning and experiences that enhance contributions of USC’s retired faculty to the university.

The RFA is a unique resource for the intellectual lives of its members and all USC retirees.  With a membership drawn from nearly all USC academic units, it already provides many opportunities for multi- and interdisciplinary exchange and inquiry.  Additionally, because 30 percent of its members are age 85 and older, the RFA will sponsor a wide range of programs and activities accessible physically or virtually by its members, relying heavily on technological innovation.

2014–2016 Priorities

Identify and publicize current research and professional activities of retired faculty on the RFA website and in the Emeriti Center’s Living History project

Develop/host webinars taught by/for retirees and other audiences in cooperation with the Emeriti Center College

Continue collaborations with USC academic units as investigators, advisers, research subjects, and guest lecturers

2017–2022 Priorities

Identify sources of support for retired faculty to complete meaningful research and publication and offer peer-review assistance

Explore the possibility of retired faculty participation in university programs such as “What Matters to Me and Why” and the Dornsife 60 Second series

Mentoring

 The RFA constitutes a significant resource for mentoring students in the broadest sense, at both undergraduate and graduate levels.  Not restricted to guiding knowledge of a particular degree program through ongoing departmental and school liaisons, retired faculty have much to offer in befriending, coaching, guiding, and inspiring many kinds of students: international, transfer/non-traditional returning degree seekers, and those drawn from USC’s neighborhood schools.  As more students live in university housing, a wider range of formal and informal engagement will be required to enrich their educational experience.

Furthermore, retired faculty can provide similar assistance and support to junior and visiting faculty and especially part-time faculty who increasingly are called upon to teach in many schools and departments.

2014–2016 Priorities

Engage more retired faculty and students in the Intergenerational Forum, and informal monthly seminar that promotes cross-disciplinary dialogue on current global, national, and local problems.

Expand the RFA’s financial support for the Caldwell Scholarships to include individual guidance and encouragement.

Increase the reach of a unique USC program, Trojan Global International Friends (TGIF), providing opportunities for retirees and international students to develop intergenerational friendships fostering mutual understanding and appreciation of diversity, USC, and Los Angeles

2017–2022 Priorities

Initiate a program of retired faculty affiliates in USC residence halls

Create a USC retiree network to escort visiting faculty and/or their spouses around campus, the USC neighborhood, and the Los Angeles area

Serve as coaches/advisers for students to improve their writing skills

Provide assistance as informal advisers to junior and/or part-time faculty on a variety of topics ( e.g., submitting grants, teaching tips)

Lifetime Learning

Liberal arts education has been characterized as preparing students for life.  To excel in this area, transformational universities such as USC emphasize self-directed and peer-learning.  To become successful leaders and participants in an increasing complex and fast-moving world, interdisciplinary fluency and lifetime learning will be required over ever-longer life spans.

USC’s retired faculty demonstrate a keen interest in learning as they continue their research and professional engagement well into their 80s, attend Emeriti Center and Emeriti Center College workshops and courses, and participate in lively discussions during RFA Sherry Hours.  Through this constant search for knowledge, they and their retired colleagues at other universities are excellent role models for demonstrating the importance and vitality of lifetime learning.

2014–2016 Priorities

Offer academic enrichment courses on campus and in regions where substantial numbers of retired faculty reside, in cooperation with the Emeriti Center College

Offer and expand on-campus and online courses for RFA members to facilitate their successful navigation of social media and the technology revolution

Increase the number and breadth of Sherry Hours and lecture series presented by USC active and retired faculty members and other speakers

Promote greater retiree group attendance at select Visions & Voices programs

2017–2022 Priorities

Videotape select Sherry Hours for posting on the Internet

Develop “salons” on topics of mutual interest (e.g., feminism, non-Western art, film studies) on-campus and in regional areas where retirees are clustered

Share practical information useful for our members’ lives as they transition into and within retirement, in cooperation with the Emeriti Center

Create a series of pre- and post-travel presentations highlighting the social and cultural characteristics of the places visited and offering travel tips

Explore ways for USC retirees to participate in USC courses (including online formats) and continuing education offerings at discounted rates

SOCIAL FOCUS

Engagement in social groups is important at any age; in the later years, it reduces isolation and promotes physical and mental health.  For USC retired faculty and staff, socializing with colleagues both on- and off-campus helps maintain ties to the greater USC community.  Engaging in localized social networks can provide community/neighborhood support for retirees and older alumni (e.g., Half-Century Trojans) as they age.  Spouses or partners, widows/widowers of retired faculty, and single retirees can reconnect with lifelong USC friends and make new ones.  These connections also can lay foundations for USC retirees’ continued participation in and contributions to the communities where they live.

The RFA and Emeriti Center have successfully mapped concentrations of where local retired faculty live in Pasadena, Rancho Palos Verdes, and on the Westside.  These localities can provide venues for social and intellectual connections for those who, despite improved public transportation to the USC campus and Gold Cards entitling retirees to free on-campus parking, find it more difficult to attend campus functions.  This regional approach, already initiated by the Emeriti Center College in cooperation with the RFA, has led to partnerships with local libraries and museums, and could be expanded to parks and recreation facilities and other local gathering venues (e.g., religious organizations, shopping centers).

2014–2016 Priorities

Host the RFA’s 65th Anniversary Reunion in the fall of 2014

Promote/help coordinate different kinds of informal localized activities (e.g, film groups; walking, bicycling, golf, coffee, and lunch “clubs”)

Increase the number of multi-day California-based trips

Co-host the Provost’s Annual Faculty Retirement Recognition Luncheon

Arrange get-togethers for retirees attending Visions & Voices programs

Collaborate on annual Holiday Party and Homecoming events and participate in SRA field trips and on-campus events (e.g., the spring musical)

2017–2022 Priorities

Explore the feasibility of promoting retirees’ participation in LA Conservancy tours, movies in historic theaters in downtown Los Angeles or other excursions

Arrange/publicize tours for retirees of special exhibits/programs at the Fisher Museum, other UPC and HSC venues, and Exposition Park museums

Promote/arrange concert/theater parties near campus/downtown Los Angeles or in the three regional areas

Explore development of a Skype online network (or similar service) for USC retirees to stay in touch with one another on a regular basis

Consider the possibility of live streaming of on-campus programs to retirees’ home computers/mobile devices via Ustream and other mechanisms

OMBUDSMAN/ADVOCACY

A major RFA purpose is to bring retired faculty into meaningful contact with the university and assure their retention as key members of the Trojan Family.  Its ombudsman/advocacy committee, in concert with the Emeriti Center, is the “watchdog” for issues affecting USC’s retired faculty.  It assists individual RFA members to find solutions for problems related to University policies and procedures; develops solutions for problems or issues experienced by all or many retired faculty; and advances proposals identified by the RFA Board of Directors as being of significant interest to faculty retirees and, increasingly, on issues that affect wider areas of retiree rights, privileges, and benefits that have generated significant changes in the Faculty Handbook.

2014–2016 Priorities

Ensure faculty are knowledgeable about procedures to be followed in being awarded emeritus/a status upon retirement

Promote access by all retired faculty to electronic resources

Maintain current university support of health care access for retired faculty

Promote/fund the acquisition and installation of assistive listening systems in university facilities for use at retirement community events and, more broadly, to address the needs of hearing-impaired faculty, alumni, students, staff, and visitors

Expand the numbers of retired faculty who serve on university committees to represent retiree perspectives and concerns

Continue to conduct comparative studies of university policies nationwide affecting retirees, in cooperation with the Emeriti Center and the Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE)

2017–2022 Priorities

Support and advance the USC’s Strategic Vision concerning technology, general education, faculty development/career profiles, and other initiatives

Continue to advocate for some form of retiree housing near USC

Promote allocation of permanent space on or near campus for the Emeriti Center and retiree activities

SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

Since its establishment, USC has created a culture of service to the community and over 13 decades has exercised leadership in the cultural, political, and economic life of  Los Angeles, Southern California, and beyond.  As part of this tradition, active and retired faculty have contributed numerous hours, leadership, and funds to strengthen their local communities.  The university also has developed significant partnerships with its immediate neighborhoods through the Good Neighbors program.  In particular, USC has developed a strong commitment to neighborhood schools since the mid-20th century.

The USC RFA/Caldwell Neighborhood Scholarship Fund has existed for more than four decades to help support students from neighboring high schools.  Administered through a partnership with USC’s Financial Aid Office, over the past nine years the RFA has raised nearly $50,000 from its members for this program.  As part of its commitment to support neighborhood schools, last year the RFA donated $1,000 to the 32nd Street USC Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School for general support, in honor of  Robert Baker, RFA past president.  Additionally, the RFA has created a partnership with USC’s Civic Engagement program and has initiated outreach to local high school counselors.

The RFA provides annual financial support for the Emeriti Center and has also created the RFA Endowment Fund which has grown steadily over the past seven years to more than $30,000.  This fund allows the RFA to create new programs and provide resources to USC’s community-focused programs.  Finally, the RFA provided grant-writing assistance to the Emeriti Center and the Provost’s Office for a successful two-year ACE/Sloan award for USC’s innovative transitions to the retirement years and beyond.  The RFA will play a major role in implementing this grant by developing new programs; many are current and future priorities.

2014–2016 Priorities

Increase fundraising for the Caldwell Scholars program and the RFA Endowment

Continue to expand RFA partnerships with Civic Engagement, the Academic Neighborhood Initiative, and other university outreach programs, to interact more fully with neighborhood schools

These priorities will be continued in the years 20172022.

DEVELOPMENT OF A LEGACY

The RFA, in cooperation with the Emeriti Center, seeks to publicize the post-retirement activities of USC’s retired faculty and archive the efforts of the RFA itself.  Retirees are urged to send news of their activities, and a 2011-2012 survey for the Benefits Office was conducted by the Emeriti Center of retirees’ post-retirement creative and intellectual activities.  Video-recorded interviews of well-known retired faculty comprise the Living History project.

However, capturing information about a larger group of retired faculty may benefit from other approaches.  The university is undertaking a new system of active faculty career profiles.  The RFA has been invited to serve on the committee in charge of this effort to ensure that these profiles will continue into the post-retirement years.  Additionally, recent inquiries about the existence of RFA archival materials have revealed significant gaps in materials held by the Emeriti Center and the University.

2014–2016 Priorities

Create an updated RFA history in time for its 65th Anniversary Celebration

Interview/collect personal records from past RFA presidents and past Emeriti Center personnel to fill in gaps in the RFA archives

Conduct a survey of retired faculty about their recent professional post-retirement activities, similar to one used by UC Berkeley

Provide more extensive information to the University Archives to fill gaps in its collection concerning the RFA

2017–2022 Priorities

Conduct a survey of retired faculty professional and volunteer activities every two to three years

Invite retirees to donate materials regularly and automatically to the RFA for the University Archives that can be made available online

Conduct audio and video recordings of retirees to capture views of the university from a multitude of angles and levels and make them available online

Identify appropriate candidates to be interviewed for the Living History project

CONCLUSION

This Strategic Vision allows USC’s retired faculty to imagine what their roles can and will be in the life of the university between now and 2022.  It represents a call to action for RFA members to help USC achieve its Strategic Vision by mobilizing the strengths and passion of retirees as active partners, a continuation of their commitment to excellence at USC during their many years of service.

The RFA Strategic Vision, with its emphasis on innovation, interdisciplinary discourse, globalization, lifetime learning, and use of digital technology to achieve its aims, complements USC’s blueprint for excellence in the coming years.  The RFA, probably the oldest retired faculty organization in the United States, and, indeed, the entire USC retiree community already provide exemplary models for the ways in which universities can harness the talents and energies of retired faculty and staff.

This Strategic Vision will be a living document annually reviewed by future RFA

Boards of Directors.  It will require additional resources, including expanded participation by RFA members in designing and implementing the activities described above, and continued collaboration with the entire retiree community and the Provost’s Office.  Additional financial resources, including the possibility of additional grant seeking and fundraising, also will be needed.

We will measure the success of our vision by the greater involvement of our fellow retirees as volunteers and participants in RFA and other retiree activities, their feedback about our programs, the heightened visibility of our roles within the university, and USC’s continued leadership in retiree affairs.  The RFA looks forward to playing an important role in allowing the University of Southern California to match its deeds with its ambitions.

June 2014