History of the Ohio University Emeriti Association
OU Emeriti Association Brief History
"to encourage a sense of community, provide an opportunity for former members of the Ohio University faculty and staff to continue their acquaintance and social contacts and to engage in a variety of volunteer, advocacy, resource development, and information activities as appropriate for an organization associated with The Ohio University."
The title, emeritus/a, was introduced by President Herman James to the Board of Trustees in 1940. He thought it appropriate to honor those who had served the university. It was approved, and a year later on June 7, 1941, Charles Moffat Copeland was granted the first title, Professor Emeritus of Accounting. From that time on, other faculty and staff who were appropriately nominated and approved were given an emeritus/a title. From 1941 to July 2021 (80 years), some 1334 faculty and contract staff have been awarded the title: emeritus or emerita.
The Ohio University Emeriti Association is approximately 61 years old. Unsure of the founding date, senior emeriti believe that it began sometime in the 1960s. During the period a small group of male emeriti faculty organized a once a month luncheon group. They met in Baker Center (the student union). They met to continue their acquaintance and social contacts. This strictly male emeriti association consisted primarily of eating and talking, and such continued for about twenty years. Spouses were eventually invited to join in, but this was restricted to the last meeting, which was held in the spring. This association was administered by the president, a secretary, and a treasurer. Seemingly, there were no committees, and for ten years, there were no regularly planned programs. But early in the 1970s, planned programs were introduced and became the responsibility of the president.
Other changes were introduced in 1981. All spouses, including widows and widowers, were invited to attend all meetings. Members were permitted one guest per meeting. Non-teaching staff emeriti were also invited to attend. There was a budding interest in establishing an Emeriti Memorial Park. It was discussed and approved by both the Association and the University Administration. Emeriti raised money for most of the cost of the park. The park was developed and finished. It was dedicated May 21, 1987. The Emeriti Park recognized deceased Ohio University emeriti and other deceased Ohio University employees who had made a major contribution to the university. It was located along Richland Avenue, just north of Peden Stadium. During this period The Emeriti Newsletter was introduced and prepared and distributed by the secretary. It was published monthly and sent to members when luncheon meetings were scheduled. The publication and mailing costs were supported, initially, by a fund set up in the University President’s Office.
In 1992 other initiatives were introduced. Emeriti dissatisfaction with the ability to expand the Emeriti Memorial Park prompted the formation of an Exploratory Park Committee. The committee met and discussed options for park expansion or other park locations. In 1998 both the Association and the University Administration agreed on a new park site in the abandoned Hocking River channel. The Association agreed to raise at least $100,000 for the development of the park. Work began in the fall of 1998, continued through 1999 and 2000, and was dedicated on November 20, 2000. The new Emeriti Park offered a beautifully landscaped panorama which was truly a testimony to the excellence of the Emeriti, both past and present.
It was during this period that the Association President accepted invitations to sit on the High Pointe Retirement Board and The Friends of the Kennedy Museum Board. The Association President also appointed a Luncheon Program Chairperson and created an Executive Committee to help deal with the many issues in which the Association was becoming involved. The President and the Secretary were also invited to participate in the planning and formation of The Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees (OCHER). The OCHER representatives met at least once quarterly, usually in Columbus, Ohio. The group shared information about campus activities as well as interests and concerns dealing with the state retirement programs, primarily the State Teachers Retirement Program and Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
The Association was also invited to participate in a program designed to upgrade the education faculty at the University of Yucatan in Mexico. The Association agreed to participate and created a special international committee to administer the program. Participating emeriti were not paid a salary but were reimbursed for travel and lodging. The University Administration endorsed the program. A University of Yucatan representative and six Yucatan faculty participated in the program.
To help meet changing interests and needs, the Association appointed a constitution revision committee. It met for almost two years, proposed and considered issues, and prepared a new constitution for consideration. The revised constitution was submitted to the membership and was approved. The mission of the Association as stated in the new constitution “(1) encouraged a sense of community, (2) provided an opportunity for former members of the Ohio University faculty and staff to continue their acquaintance and social contacts, and (3) engaged in a variety of volunteer, advocacy, resource development, and information activities as appropriate for an organization associated with the Ohio University.” The constitution is subject to review every five years.
The constitution developed a mission statement (see above) and created an Executive Committee, composed of both elected officers and appointed committee chairs, to administer the daily needs and wishes of the Association. The position of vice-president in charge of programs was added with the intention that after two years this person would become president of the Association. Standing committees replaced the temporary committees. The new committees were program, finance, membership, communication, volunteer, Emeriti Park, international programs, tours and activities, memorial member services, election, and special. A new membership provision, called Friends of the Emeriti, was also added. This made possible the inclusion of distinguished members from the university and community who were not eligible for Emeriti membership. These members, however, could not hold office in the Association. Association income was improved by adding Life Membership Dues to the Annual Membership Dues. It was also strengthened by significant financial and personnel support from the Ohio University Advancement Office. The nature of affiliations and procedures with the University and outside organizations was also added.
The Emeriti Association was invited to participate in The Ohio University Bicentennial Commission. The Emeriti Association named a special committee to work on and help administer plans for the celebration in 2004. The Association sponsored a publication, entitled Ohio University Recollections for the Bicentennial Anniversary 1804-2004. Recollections were written by emeriti and friends and the committee selected pictures to be included in the publication and supervised the editing for publication. Money from the sale of the publication was presented to The Ohio University Credit Union to help sponsor the Harry Crewson Scholarship.