History of the UGRA

How it began and Why it continues

Many University of Guelph employees retire from active employment with a University pension. Given human nature, serious consideration of retirement does not occur until it is almost upon us. Just as various campus organizations speak to our interests while we are working, it was apparent that the retirees also needed a voice. The University of Guelph Retirees Association, representing both retired faculty and retired staff, was formed in 1991 and is now celebrating more than three decades of service.

Discussion regarding the founding of a Retirees Association began early in 1990 and continued for many months. The matter of pensions was the main stimulus to the formation of the association so that a means of direct input on pension policies could be made. Several meetings were held and various options considered. A questionnaire was mailed to retirees to solicit opinion on the matter.

As a result of all the deliberations, it was finally decided in January 1991 to establish the University of Guelph Retirees’ Association (UGRA) with an interim executive consisting of Elmer Menzie, President; Archie McIntyre, Vice-President; Don Jose, Secretary. Rick Richards, George Barker and Earl MacNaughton were directors. Earl was a major resource person for the newly formed association. He was familiar with details of the Pension Plan and with various aspects of the funding. He developed several analytic reports outlining the nature of the fund and costs associated with various alternative proposals for pension improvements. His work was important to decisions regarding the organization’s objectives and continued to be so for several years. Earl was UGRA’s first representative to provide input to the Advisory Committee on Pensions and Benefits (ACPB) from the retirees’ perspective. ACPB represents various working groups on campus and advises the University on concerns regarding pensions and benefits. In February, 1991, George Barker resigned his post and enlisted Bob Logan as his replacement on the interim Executive.

The University of Guelph Retirees Association (UGRA) was formed in 1991 with 114 registered as members, representing both retired faculty and staff, and now comprises a community of over 2200 retirees. The matter of pensions was the main stimulus for the formation of the association and retirees have a representative on the Pension Committee of the Board of Governors, nominated by UGRA and appointed by the Board. UGRA has expanded its activities to include a wide range of other issues important to retirees. These activities include: two forums (Fall and Winter) themed around issues of importance to seniors with invited specialist speakers; a Fall meeting with the President open to all UGRA members, with refreshments; the usual AGM in June; an active participation in CURAC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada) whose broad expertise in the matter of retirees’ issues is invaluable; and closer cooperation with Alumni Affairs. Many committee and executive members have, over the years, contributed countless volunteer hours to the Association. Members make a voluntary contribution of $25 per year to cover such costs as printing the Newsletter, travel to the annual CURAC meeting and rental of facilities for activities. The University graciously covers the cost of mailing for the Newsletter as well as rental costs for the monthly UGRA executive meetings.

UGRA has met the challenges posed during the years of its expansion. The officers and directors of the executive provide a remarkable combination of knowledge, skill and tenacity. It has a dynamic and committed Board that works on your behalf and in support of all University of Guelph retirees.

A list of past members of the Executive Committee