For UCI retirees, there’s more to post-work life than playing golf and spending time with the grandkids. For many, the campus remains important. Instead of retirement signaling a break from the university, it often just shifts the relationship, according to the latest survey of non-academic University of California retirees. In advance of UCI’s 16th annual reception honoring emeriti and retirees on Oct. 20 (featuring Chancellor Howard Gillman as keynote speaker), we sat down for a Q&A with Jeri I. Frederick, director of UCI’s Center for Emeriti & Retirees.
Tell us about the survey.
This is only the second time that the Council of UC Retirees Associations has surveyed non-academic retirees to learn about their activities, contributions and accomplishments during retirement. Most notable was that 70 percent of UCI respondents volunteer in their communities and 45 percent still serve and/or donate to UCI academic units, athletics, arts and more.
To be fair, the survey notes: “We know our survey respondents are not ’typical’ UC retirees. In fact, we believe they represent the most engaged and interested retirees, those who most value their connection to the University of California…. For that reason, the survey results cannot be generalized to all UC retirees.”
During the survey effort, each UC also investigated the level of retiree philanthropy to their respective campuses. Because not all UCs track non-emeriti giving, this was an unprecedented effort. At UCI, the Center for Emeriti & Retirees and the UCI Retirees Association worked with University Advancement to better identify retirees in the UA database and documented nearly $6.2 million in retiree giving for the time period of this survey (January 2017 to September 2020) and $32 million since the creation of UCI. This is impressive and underscores the dedication that retirees have to their institutions after having worked an average of 20 years.
The Council of UC Emeriti Associations is also beginning a survey of UC emeriti (academic retirees) that will cover the years 2018 to 2021.
How many retirees and emeriti does UCI have?
Approximately 6,000, including surviving spouses, with roughly 300 retiring each year. Emeriti are generally those who had Academic Senate appointments (there can be some exceptions). Non-academics are called retirees, a category that also includes Health Sciences clinical faculty. About 15 percent of UCI retirees and emeriti live in Irvine, 37 percent within a 50-mile radius of Irvine and 82 percent in California.
What are the most popular services offered by the UCI Center for Emeriti & Retirees?
Since the early 1980s, the UCI Emeriti Association and the UCI Retirees Association have both been very active volunteering and supporting the UCI campus, UCI Health and local organizations and activities, such as civic causes, museums, performing arts centers, faith-based groups and political causes.
CER coordinates with the UCIRA and UCIEA and many campus and community partners to provide 40 to 50 programs and events each year. The most popular are the monthly walks, hikes and bike rides, as well as information sessions on topics such as the latest advances in medical and integrative care, upcoming arts performances, Medicare and cooking classes.
What is the biggest adjustment to retirement?
We occasionally hold a panel discussion of retirees to talk with soon-to-be retirees and the common areas of agreement on what to expect when one retires are:
- At community or neighborhood meetings, no one cares what your former title may have been and do not expect that people will wait for you to finish speaking before they start talking.
- You will not want to binge on television or social media or it will drive you nuts.
- You get to try new things (painting, golf, book clubs and more) and quit if they are not right for you.
- You can volunteer wherever and whenever you desire.
- It is a good idea to budget for more paper goods in your home, such as paper towels and toilet paper.
How did you come to be the founding director?
In 2005, the UCI Executive Vice Chancellor’s Office and Human Resources committed to developing a Center for Emeriti & Retirees. I had been on the campus for six years as a management services officer, previously working at CSU Long Beach and the Greater L.A. World Trade Center, and accepted the position. In just a few years, the CER infrastructure was established, dedicated space allocated, and a full complement of services and programs was coordinated with campus departments and the community, as well as other UC colleagues.
What is your favorite part of your job?
A key part of our work is to help find resolution when emeriti/retirees encounter problems with their benefits (pension, insurance, UC and UCI continuing resources). Our greatest moments are receiving feedback that a problem has been resolved.
What would you like people most to know about the center?
CER, now headquartered under University Advancement, is powered by two staff members and 30 retiree/emeriti volunteers, and serves as the official connection for retired UCI emeriti, faculty, staff, survivors, their respective associations, the university and UCI Health. We provide a checklist for retirees, and a monthly newsletter and discounts are available on our website, http//retirees.uci.edu. Retirees also may keep their UCInetID and UCI email address.
Any parting thoughts?
We find it is good news in these confusing times for people to realize:
- There is a next phase of life after retirement.
- There is a great spirit of volunteerism and ambassadorship among retirees for their campus and their communities.
- There is an affiliation that continues between current staff and students and our retirees, as evidenced by the latter’s continuing mentorship, volunteer services and support for scholarships, such as the UCIRA Legacy Scholarships and the Mike Puritz Staff Assembly scholarships.