In 1997, when a small group of people met to discuss forming an association for SFU retirees, they weren't the first to do this. SFU President Saywell had launched a discussion in 1990, but not enough people had retired to make it happen. In 1997 the people who came together decided the time had come. SFU was almost 32 years old and had 42 eligible retirees. In less than a year, these founding members recruited a steering committee, wrote a constitution, and established the Simon Fraser University Retirees Association.

The moment was appropriate, so in true SFU fashion a committee was formed. This steering committee came together on Sept. 15th, 1997 with Doreen Badgero, Tom Bell, Marilyn Cairns, Roy Carlson, Harry Evans, Tom Mallinson, George Suart and John Walkley, chairman. 

The steering committee was lucky to have the multi-university experience of Harry Evans, the real-world experience of George Suart, and the legal eye of Marvin Stark, who was always ready to read what we had written. And so with the hard work of all members of the committee, we crafted a constitution that recognized the requirements of the province, our position within the university, and the best interests of future retirees. 

February 19, 1998 * Vol . 11, No. 4

Walkley (left) and Evans

An SFU retirees association takes shape

by Ken Mennell

A group of Simon Fraser University builders is not quite ready to stop building -- even though its members, technically at least, have put away their working tools.

More than 100 retired faculty and staff members are poised this spring to establish a Simon Fraser University Retirees Association. Their goals are varied, but include a continued contribution to the university in which they have invested so much over the years.

Professor emeritus John Walkley, who is chairing a volunteer organizing committee, says the association will "encourage members to donate their time and resources" to the university and also provide advice when and if requested.

But the association will not be entirely altruistic, he says. A fall questionnaire indicates that many retirees are simply anxious to be active with former colleagues. Says Walkley: "There'll be a big social role. The feedback from our questionnaire indicates that a lot of retirees want to do things together. They're interested in discussion groups, bridge clubs, going to the theatre and remaining active with their former co-workers."

Retired registrar Harry Evans, treasurer for the organizing committee, says the association will also promote awareness of, and improvements to, the retirement benefits available to retirees. "We want to make sure that retirees are aware of the benefits and services already offered such as free use of the library and the gym, free tuition for credit courses and free subscriptions to Simon Fraser News."

In addition, Evans says the association will monitor and may, at some future point, join other organizations to lobby government on policy issues which are of critical interest to retirees. Obvious topics include health benefits and pension plans.

The concept of a retirees association has been floating around campus since the early 1990s, but never quite got off the ground for a variety of reasons. Last fall, however, Walkley, Evans and several others decided it was time to bite the bullet.

They soon had a volunteer committee which included retirees Doreen Badgero (library management), Tom Bell (chemistry), Marilyn Cairns (academic advice), Roy Carlson (archaeology) and George Suart (vice-president administration). Seed money from the president's office, coupled with some hard work, led to a dinner meeting at the Diamond Club in late November which attracted 44 retirees, as well as a number of their partners.

"When you walked into the Diamond Club that night, the feeling in the air was really something," recalls Evans who retired in 1985. "There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie and fellowship."

The consensus from that dinner meeting was clear. The time had come for a formal association of retirees. The organizing committee is now well on its way to completion of a draft constitution for presentation April 27 to an inaugural annual general meeting. Meanwhile, a membership drive is about to kick into high gear.

With 50 members already paid in full (the annual membership fee is a paltry $20), Walkley notes that another 50 retirees have indicated they will also be joining. But, aware of a potential membership pool of 375 retirees, he says: "We're not settling for that (100 members); we want everyone to join."

In terms of potential members, of course, time is on the association's side. Says Evans: "In 1997 the university had 39 individuals retire. With the coming demographic bulge which we have all read about, the number of retirees will increase almost exponentially over the next few years."

Since retiring last fall, Walkley continues to teach a course on science for SFU's seniors program and was elected last fall to the Diamond University Club board. Chairing the retirees organizing committee is just another task which keeps him on campus. In explaining his motivation, the retired chemist implicitly provides others with good reason to join in. "I've been at SFU for 30 years," he says, "and I want to go on being up here. I enjoy being active on campus."

Evans, who in retirement has been involved with an assortment of SFU bodies ranging from the alumni association to the academic pension plan, echoes these sentiments. "I do it because I enjoy doing it and because it helps the university."

Find out more by calling Walkley at 929-6532 or Evans at 461-0989. Or write to the SFU Retirees Association, in care of SFU's human resources office.

© Simon Fraser University, Media and Public Relations

November 4, 1999 Vol . 16, No. 5

New retirees group formed

By Diane Luckow

SFU's retirement rush has begun in earnest with 65 faculty and staff retirements this year. It's the largest exodus and a 61.5 per cent increase over last year according to Bob Broad, manager, staffing, development and systems.

Fortunately, retirees can look forward to a continued association with SFU through the new SFU Retirees' Association (SFURA) established two years ago by former registrar Harry Evans and professor emeritus John Walkley. Already, their membership boasts 200 of the current 400 retirees. Ultimately, says Walkely, they'd like everyone to belong. "Until now," says Walkley, "we didn't have the critical mass to start an association."

During the next five years, however, retirement figures are expected to climb. Half of the faculty is now aged 50 or older, with 30 per cent of all faculty eligible to retire this year at age 55.

The staff is also aging, with 23 per cent of all staff between the ages of 50-65 and 188, or 17 per cent, already eligible to retire at age 55. What's more, most staff and faculty tend to retire by age 60 rather than age 65.

SFURA is beginning to plan a social program which includes bi-annual dinners, golf, hikes, trips, and lunch speakers. It has also been working to improve benefits for retirees.

Recently they negotiated free occasional parking at SFU for their membership and have just organized a tri-university travel medical insurance plan.

As well, says Walkley, "APSA has just improved our extended medical/dental benefits."

SFURA now publishes a newsletter bi-annually and also has its own website at www.sfu.ca/retirees The email address is retirees@sfu.ca

© Simon Fraser University, Media and Public Relations