TUARA Winter Spring 2018 Newsletter
Presidents Report – Membership Luncheon set for April 17
What a joy it has been to serve as your president this year! We have made great strides in membership participation, thanks to our outstanding executive board. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such valued colleagues who continue to serve our campus and community in remarkable ways.
Please join us for our general membership meeting on Tuesday, April 17, at 11:30 a.m. at the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa. UA President Stuart Bell has graciously offered to host the luncheon for us to celebrate our strong partnership. An institutional update will be provided, followed by a TUARA business meeting where we will elect new board members and officers. We will also hear from Jill Jackson, the new executive director of AERA, who will provide a summary of the legislative session.
In addition, we will be collecting new or lightly used ties or scarves to donate to the Crimson Career Closet. The closet is a service of the UA Career Center that allows students to borrow professional attire for job interviews and related events. If you would like to participate in this worthy project, please bring your donations to the luncheon.
Wondering how to become involved? In the coming year, we plan to enhance our membership engagement through enlarging and activating our committees. We will have information about committees and service opportunities available on April 17. Invite a friend, sign up to help, and come see us in April!
Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship Awarded
TUARA awarded the Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship to UA students Jaylin Russell and Morgan Bailey for the spring semester. The scholarships provided $400 to each student.
Jaylin Russell is a sophomore from Birmingham, majoring in communicative disorders with a minor in human development. The oldest of five children in a single parent home, Jaylin wrote “Money was always tough for our family and I had to take on a lot of responsibility to help the household. . . . I could literally write a book about my struggles, but I am honestly grateful because I wouldn’t be the determined, disciplined person I am today (without this experience)! . . . It really means a lot to receive this scholarship.”
Morgan Bailey is a sophomore from Cullman, majoring in social work. Her goal is to earn an MSW and work in the medical field. “Thank you so very much for this book scholarship,” Morgan wrote. “I’m living my life out at my dream school thanks to opportunities like the one you have given me.”
For many students, the unmet financial need – the difference between the cost of attendance and the amount a student receives in financial aid – is great. Supporting the Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship is one way to make a difference for students in need. Please help by making a contribution. Make your check payable to The University of Alabama with “Robert E. Witt Book Scholarship” in the memo line. Mail your donation to TUARA, Box 861493, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-0013. You will receive a tax-deductible statement from the University.
News from Area District 10
Just as students look forward to the beginning of each semester, during the fall and winter, AERA members look
forward to our annual District meetings and leadership workshops, to re-energize and reboot activities, refresh
friendships, and receive news updates. It was refreshing to learn that during 2018 there would be only minor
changes in our health coverage. The major announcement coming from the AERA Board of Directors was the
retirement of our Executive Director Janice Charlesworth, effective Feb. 1, after 20 years of service. This news was received with sadness that we will be losing a friend and outstanding administrator but with joy and happiness for Janice to be moving closer to family and grandchildren. Under Charlesworth’s capable leadership, AERA has grown to more than 25,000 members. This is a significant accomplishment as continued growth in membership is important in our lobbying efforts to the Alabama Legislature on behalf of retirees. Numbers speak louder than words.
In the 2018 legislative session, Senate Bill 21 asking for a $400 13th check was sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial and supported by Senators Dial, Holley, Smitherman, Reed, Waggoner, Ward, Scofield, Whatley, McClendon, Williams, Livingston, Chambliss, Marsh, Stutts, Bussman, Beasley, Allen, Albritton, and Brewbaker. Senate Bill 21 has passed the Senate but has not yet been moved on to the House for confirmation. The stumbling block to final passage of this bill is a funding source. The intention was for funding to come from the Alabama Education Trust Fund Rolling Reserve, however Representative Bill Poole, Chairman of the Education Ways and Means Committee, does not agree. According to Representative Poole, money for a 13th check for education retirees must come from the already allocated 2018 budget.
Since identifying available funding for education retirees for a COLA or a 13th check is the major hurdle, AERA appreciates the introduction of Senate Bill 314 by Senator Tom Whatley. This bill would create a separate fund in the State Treasury known as the Education Retirees’ Trust Fund for Cost-of-Living Adjustments that would serve as a permanent trust and as an investment account for the earnings and funds received. The purpose of this fund would be to provide education retirees with cost-ofliving increases or one-time bonuses.
It is important that EVERY TUARA member contact YOUR Senator and Representative to ask for their help or to express thanks for their support for legislation that will provide funding needed to solve this monetary dilemma of long standing for education retirees. Eleven years is a long time to go without any additional funds in our paychecks.
Working with our legislators with a multipronged approach is a prime example of AERA’s commitment to its members, resilience to find solutions, and boldness and daring to think “outside the box.” These high leadership ideals are now being passed on to the new AERA Executive Director Jill E. Jackson.
Jackson began working with our outgoing AERA Executive Director in January. Jackson comes to AERA with experience in public education in the areas of career technical education and special education as well having a business background in support of her husband’s residential home building company, Jackson Solutions LLC. As a public-school educator, Jackson was an active AEA member attending various leadership meetings and representing colleagues on numerous state committees as well as serving in the AEA Delegate Assembly. Her educational accomplishments include an Alternative Teaching Certificate from Jacksonville State University and Athens State University. She is currently working on a Master of Law degree from Regent University, which she will complete this summer. We welcome her to her new position as AERA Executive Director and extend our strong support as she meets the challenges of continued growth and improvement for AERA.
AERA District 10 Director
Survey shows members look to TUARA for advocacy, social activities & Information
University of Alabama retirees join TUARA primarily for legislative advocacy to protect retirees’ benefits, social activities and to support the University, according to a survey conducted by students in MGT 420-320, an organizational change course at the Culverhouse College of Commerce, in the fall of 2017.
TUARA Executive Board members Barry Mason and Molly Lawrence worked with the students to create a survey to learn more about why retirees choose to join TUARA and what members value most about membership. The analysis will be used to ensure that TUARA is meeting members’ needs and to help attract new members. The students created and emailed surveys to active, inactive and potential TUARA members.
Almost half of active members who responded to the survey indicated that legislative support for retiree benefits was their primary reason for joining TUARA. Other significant reasons were social activities, followed by keeping updated on information and supporting UA. A question asking what programs, services and/or information are of special value provided similar responses: Members most often mentioned legislative advocacy, informational updates and events, in that order. The vast majority of current members agree that TUARA advocates for their retirement benefits.
Asked about their interest in being involved on campus, current members’ top reported interest was in advising student groups, followed by volunteer opportunities, attending campus events and serving on University committees.
The vast majority of members, both active and inactive, indicated that email is their preferred means of communication.
After analyzing the survey data, the students’ primary recommendation is that TUARA’s main focus should be on legislative advocacy. The top issues voiced were protection of pensions, COLA increases and general involvement in legislative decisions.
The students who conducted the survey were Zoe Burkhart, Nick McDonald, Justin Brooks, Dan Back and John Drummond.
For a copy of the full report, contact TUARA at tuara.ua@ gmail.com.
Vote on amendment to TUARA constitution at April meeting
The Executive Board has proposed an amendment to the TUARA constitution that would change the officer position of Database Secretary from an elected position to an appointed one. The constitution requires that notice of a proposed amendment be circulated to the membership one month prior to the vote. This communication satisfies that requirement. Members will be asked to vote Yes or No on adoption of this amendment at the April 17, 2018 membership meeting. Ballots will be available at registration. Please review the amendment and justification below. If you have questions, please feel free to contact TUARA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article IV. Executive Board
Eliminate the officer position of Database Secretary as an elected position. Add a sentence: The President shall appoint a qualified member to serve as Database Secretary. The Database Secretary shall be a full voting member of the Executive Board and serve at the pleasure of the President.
Justification: The Database Secretary maintains the electronic records for the membership. The tasks are technical in nature. The Constitution limits the term in office of Executive Board positions to two (2) years. The tasks require specialized training. There is also a need for continuity in the position for more than the term limits allow. Therefore the Board recommends that the Database Secretary position be appointed by the President so that the term can be indefinite and a proper transition to a new Database Secretary can be planned.
TUARA hosted a legislative update with State Rep. Bill Poole at the Tuscaloosa Public Library on Jan. 22. Poole chairs the Ways and Means committee in the Alabama House. Poole presented a detailed overview of the state budget and some of the challenges facing legislators as they determine the FY 2019 budget. He noted that the FY 2018 budget totals $11.87 billion, including $6.42 billion in the Education Trust Fund, $1.85 billion in the general fund, and $3.6 billion in state earmarks. Funding for state universities comprises 19.65 percent of the Education Trust Fund budget. He noted that the legislature enacted the ETF Rolling Reserve Act several years ago to build a stabilization fund for the ETF. The fund can only be used in the case of proration of the Education Trust Fund. The balance in the fund is $179 million.
Upcoming TUARA Events
April 12, 2018 – Executive Board Meeting, 9:30 a.m., Capstone Village
April 17, 2018 – President’s Luncheon, Spring General Meeting, 11:30 a.m., Embassy Suites
May 8, 2018 – AERA Annual Meeting, Pelham Civic Complex, Pelham, Alabama
May 10, 2018 – Executive Board Meeting/Orientation Planning Meeting, 9:30 a.m., Capstone Village
Social on the Bama Belle
TUARA members enjoyed a river cruise on the Bama Belle in September 2017. The social event also had a service component as members brought jars of peanut butter to contribute to “Beat Auburn Beat Hunger.” Missed the boat last fall? TUARA plans to cruise again in fall 2018. Watch for details!
Fall general meeting featured tour of Bryce Main Building
At TUARA’s fall 2017 general meeting at Bryant-Jordan Hall, Professor William Teague, chair of UA’s department of theatre and dance, presented plans for the University’s new performing arts center, which will incorporate and adjoin the old Bryce Main building.
The meeting also included a welcome from Travis Railsback, UA director of human resources. Railsback serves as TUARA’s liaison with the University administration. Other highlights were an update from Monique Scott, campaign director for the United Way of West Alabama, and a community service update from TUARA Executive Board member Mildred Switzer. The group also bade farewell to AERA’s outgoing executive director Janice Charlesworth, who provided an update on legislative issues.
TUARA members contribute more than 6,000 hours to community service
TUARA members share a kindred spirit, a caring nature and a strong sense of commitment to help build a better community. As retirees, we are making significant contributions of time and energy to West Alabama and beyond. In 2017, some 55 TUARA members reported more than 6,000 hours of volunteer service and there are many more unreported hours. Reported volunteer hours include the following:
Annually, these hours of community service are reported to AERA. AERA identifies the economic impact Alabama Education Retirees continue to make on our state’s economy by converting our community service hours to a monetary value at the rate of $24.00 per hour. Thank you to the TUARA members who have contributed the equivalent of $145,686 to the West Alabama community!
We are pleased to report that the United Way of West Alabama surpassed its goal by raising a total of $3,945,067 in the recent fund drive to support partner agencies. Retired Coach Sarah Patterson served as campaign fund chairperson. She sends her heartfelt thanks to the TUARA membership for its support of the campaign drive. Longtime residents of West Alabama understand that this is a giving, caring community and your efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you for continuing to make a difference.
TUARA 2017 year-end financial report