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UC Berkeley Retirement Center Keeps Faculty and Staff Retirees in the Loop

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A Connecting Link with Cal

UC Berkeley Retirement Center Keeps Faculty and Staff Retirees in the Loop

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
Posted February 23, 2000

When Professor Emeritus of Physics Leo Falicov died in 1995, it was music that helped Marta, his wife of 37 years, survive her grief.

"I forced myself to go to concerts at Cal Performances and to play music," she recalls. "That's what got me through."

For help in mastering other survival skills, Falicov turned again to the campus where her husband had taught for more than a quarter century.

"An absolute electronic illiterate," she signed up for computer classes designed especially for older adults. She also took a workshop on memory and aging and exercise classes for those age 50 and older.

These resources were available to Falicov through the UC Berkeley Retirement Center, founded in 1997 to help retired faculty and staff stay connected with Berkeley. Of the campus's 5,700 former employees and surviving partners, an estimated 85 percent live within 15 miles of campus. Many of them would like to remain involved with the place central to their lives for 10, 20 or even 50 years.

"Cal is a community," says the center's director, Shelley Glazer. "You don't retire from a community."

Former Director of Media Services Peter Kerner recalls the shock of separation from campus after his retirement two years ago: "After 35 years of being in the saddle, I wasn't expected to be anywhere or do anything specific."

Center staff helped Kerner by "responding in informal conversations to what I was feeling," he says. He's now "comfortable not putting on a coat and tie in the morning," maintains strong ties with Media Services and is involved in enhancing the retirement center's programs.

"The center is a warm place to go; it's a place I want to remain connected with," he says. "Cal means a lot to me today, as it did during my career. It was always something I supported emotionally."

With funding from the chancellor's office, the retirement center has sought both to discover and address the needs of retired faculty and staff and to harness their experience and institutional memory.

"The benefits flow in both directions," says Vice Provost Nicholas Jewell. "The center not only provides an opportunity for retired faculty and staff to continue to contribute to the campus, but provides the campus an opportunity to link retired employees to valuable programs and services."

The center has enhanced the meaning of Cal's retiree ID card, says Glazer, "by partnering with other campus units to create a variety of discounts and services."

These include free hours at the Berkeley Art Museum; Cal Performances discounts; access to the Library; and educational rates for computer supplies through the Scholar's Workstation. Retirees can get long-term care insurance counseling; discounted eye exams and glasses at the School of Optometry; and e-mail accounts and access to the Web through the campus network.

Response has exceeded expectations, Glazer notes. More than 400 have taken computer classes and nearly 100 now have e-mail accounts through the center. More than 70 people, ranging in age from 50 to 88, participated in last spring's 50+ Fitness class, developed by the center and CalFIT and funded by the Academic Geriatric Resource Program.

"A lot of retirees are unfamiliar with what Rec Sports has to offer," says CalFIT Coordinator Susanne McQuade. "They have lots of questions about fitness and health, and they're ready to do something, because they know they need to exercise. We wanted to expose them to a variety of activities and give them some theoretical background."

With a number of services for individuals now in place, the center is also developing new avenues for retired faculty and staff to contribute to Berkeley -- for example by teaching in the Freshman Seminar Program or tutoring and mentoring through campus outreach programs.

"The initial focus has to be doing things for the retirees," says Professor Emeritus of Psychology Donald Riley, who chairs the center's policy board. "As the center develops, you begin to develop a cadre of people anxious to do things for the university."

One program on the drawing board would enlist retired faculty to give lectures around given themes. Riley, who retired in 1991 after 41 years on the faculty, is currently designing a series on major issues of 20th-century psychology; another would look at contemporary urban problems.



February 23-29, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 23)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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