PURA history: 1976-1990
By John F. Stover (years 1976-1990)
In the years after World War II, several changes seemed to promise a better future for retirees of Purdue University. In 1946 the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) was created, providing an assured pension for the clerical and service personnel of the University. At about the same time the youthful new president of Purdue, Frederick L. Hovde, insisted upon an earlier retirement age for the faculty.
Faculty members under 43 years of age were to retire at 66, while older faculty would retire at 68 or 70, depending upon their age. All staff members appointed after July 1, 1948, would retire at age 65. As enrollments and faculty both grew in the postwar years, the typical professor was fairly young and worried little about his age at retirement. In 1955 all staff members -- clerical, service, faculty, and administrative -- voted to join Social Security, with contributions to be paid by both employees and Purdue.
During the 1950's the Teacher's Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) had been augmented by the optional College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF). Over the years, the TIAA contribution changed from a 5 percent staff/5 percent Purdue to a 5 percent staff/10 percent Purdue, and finally by 1959 to an 11 percent to 15 percent all paid by Purdue.
By the late 1950's, the faculty retirement plan at Purdue was envied by many faculty members at other Big Ten schools. In 1963-64 the average salary (10 months) of full-time faculty at Purdue was $9,593, ranking eighth among the Big Ten schools (AAUP Bulletin, June 1964). But in that year the "fringe benefits" provided the Purdue faculty amounted to 15.9 percent of the annual salary. Purdue ranked first in the Big Ten in such benefits. The average fringe benefit in the conference was only 10.4 percent of the annual salary.
In the early postwar years, faculty salary increases at Purdue -- and the country in general -- rose faster than inflation. This was certainly true during the 1960's. During that decade, average faculty compensation at Purdue rose nearly 90 percent while total inflation was no more than 35-40 percent (AAUP Bulletin, June 1961, June 1971). The next decade was very different.
Between 1970 and 1980 the cost of living rose 110 percent while average compensation at Purdue for full professors climbed only 85 percent, and the lower ranks fared no better (AAUP Bulletin, June 1971, August 1981). Fringe benefits continued to climb at Purdue, and in 1973-74 amounted to 19.2 percent of average faculty salary. The average in the Big Ten that year was 16.8 percent.
This high inflation of the 1970's probably helps explain a certain discontent felt by some Purdue retirees during the decade. A longtime Purdue administrator, who had retired early in the 1970's, wrote President Arthur Hansen in the spring of 1975 that many retirees had developed a negative attitude about Purdue since retiring. He reported many retirees saying, "They gave me a thousand dollar life insurance policy and free parking on a campus where I no longer have any need to park."
Retirees seemingly felt both neglected and ignored by a university where many had worked for several decades. After conferring with the writer of the letter, President Hansen consulted with his staff and sought input from a number of recent retirees. As a result, a new organization, Purdue University Retirees (PUR) was formed, and in the spring of 1976 President Hansen created and appointed the President's Advisory Council on Retirement (PACR). In announcing PUR and the new council, Arthur Hansen admitted: "At best our programming at Purdue had been well-intentioned but sporadic." The goal of PUR was to bring retirees into a closer working relationship with the University and to involve them in the mainstream of campus activity.
PACR is born
The first chairman of the Advisory Council was Harland W. White, longtime director of admissions. The 29 members of the council were assigned to one of three committees: Benefits, chaired by Helen Schleman; Program, chaired by Gus Cwalina; and Communications, chaired by Glenn Griffin. Later, several other committees were formed, but in the early years the original three committees carried on the bulk of the council's work.
The Executive Committee was composed of the council chairman plus the several committee chairmen. Twelve different council chairmen have headed the council in the 14 years since 1976, more than 40 different committee chairmen have led the committees, and about 150 retirees have served on the council. The council has a rotating membership of about 30, all appointed by the president. Most council members have served for three years, but several have been on the council six years or more.
Some of the original members of the council may have recalled that President Hovde earlier had appointed a committee headed by Professor R. Norris Shreve to study the concerns of faculty retirees. With a travel grant, Professor Shreve reviewed retiree programs around the nation and the full committee made a formal report in 1968. No significant action followed the Shreve report on retirement. In the late 1960's learning to live with frequent student protests had a higher priority than new retirement programs.
Harland White and the new Advisory Council quite soon decided to make their own survey of Purdue retirees. Early in 1977 a questionnaire was sent to 1,234 Purdue retirees, seeking both general and specific information about the group. Slightly more than 70 percent (871 replies) were returned. In the fall of 1977 the results were tabulated and made public.
About 65 percent of the retirees lived in Tippecanoe County, 25 percent in other counties in Indiana, and 10 percent out-of-state. Just over 20 percent were faculty, just under 20 percent administrative, and 60 percent clerical or service. About 58 percent were 70 or younger, 25 percent were 71 to 80 years of age, and 17 percent were 81 or older. The group was 62 percent men and 38 percent women.
Nearly three-quarters of the replies (624 retirees) reported their household income for the year 1976. On average their 1976 incomes were composed of: Purdue pension, 27 percent; Social Security, 39 percent; and "other" 34 percent. The median 1976 retiree income was: $11,500 for the entire group; $14,000 for men; $8,000 for women; $7,500 for clerical/service; and $6,300 for all who had retired before 1960. At the 10-percentile rank the figures were: $4,000 for clerical/service; $3,500 for women; and $3,200 for those whose retirement was before 1960. These last three listed average incomes were generally at or below the 1976 federal government definition of poverty level for food stamp distribution. Such modest incomes became even more worrisome when inflation was present. In the mid-1970's the cost of living was climbing -- 11 percent in 1974, 9 percent in 1975, 6 percent in 1976, and 6 percent in 1977. The council included in its survey summary a table showing the serious decline in purchasing power caused by a continuing inflation.
The 1977 retiree questionnaire also asked what benefits or assistance programs were of special interest to Purdue retirees. More than half desired convocation and athletic tickets at a discount. About 60 percent expressed a major interest in obtaining drug prescriptions at a discount and also being included in a group medical insurance program. This last concern was of particular interest to older retirees, since a recently approved new Purdue medical insurance program was not available for those who had retired before 1975.
Helen Schleman and her Benefits Committee strongly urged the administration to include all retirees in the new insurance program. At almost the same time that the questionnaire was being summarized -- the summer of 1977 -- the Purdue Board of Trustees was voting to include all retirees in the new Medical Insurance Plan, effective as of January 1, 1978. In the newly expanded plan, the costs of administration were to be paid by Purdue with individual retirees paying the insurance premium. The news of the expanded Insurance Plan was the top story in the retirees newsletter (summer, 1977, Volume 1, Number 3).
Trips and Tours
The next issue of the retirees newsletter announced the first of many theater trips to the Beef & Boards Dinner Theater in Indianapolis. On October 26, 1977, 21 retirees drove in four private cars down to Indianapolis to see the play Goodbye Charlie. Tickets for the evening were $16, and after all expenses were paid there remained a profit of $45.47. The trip was sponsored by the Program Committee under the leadership of Gus Cwalina, longtime professor of pharmacy. During the next four years (October 1977 to November 1980), Gus Cwalina and his committee led 19 such trips to Beef & Boards in Indianapolis. Normally from one to three buses were used to transport the group.
Six trips were made in each of the three years (1978, 1979, and 1980). The theater groups ranged in size from 45 to a high of 138, when three busloads on June 1, 1978, saw Myrna Loy in Relatively Speaking. Even with inflation, the price of the tickets was only up to $17.50 in the fall of 1980. During the four years 1,245 tickets were sold, and the total net income was $1,407. Many retirees went on several of the trips. The Program Committee continued to sponsor Beef & Board trips for several years after Gus Cwalina retired from the council in 1981.
The Program Committee planned monthly programs in the Stewart Center on such topics as Health Tips, Changes in Social Security, and Changes in the Tax Laws. Free blood pressure checks were available before each session, with the cost of the nurse taken care of by Beef & Boards profits. In the fall of 1978, Program Chairman Dan Corbin organized retiree groups in swimming, golf, and cross-country skiing. The first retiree luncheon was held in the late summer of 1977 in the Purdue Memorial Union with 200 in attendance. The luncheon became an annual event, normally held in August or September. Later, the event was moved to Morris Bryant Restaurant. A summer retirees' picnic, first held at The Hills, and later in West Lafayette's Happy Hollow Park, also became an annual event.
High priority items for the Communications Committee were the creation of a retiree newsletter and the publication of a retiree directory. The first issue of the retirees newsletter appeared in the winter of 1977.
The first issue, published in January 1977, stated the newsletter's mission: to communicate with Purdue retirees about important and pertinent University activities as well as programs of PACR and to share important news about retirees and their achievements and about retiree benefits and activities.
Early issues included announcements, program notes, changes in medical insurance, and correspondence from out-of-state retirees. A few pictures and cartoons were included. A one-line filler noted: "Retirement takes all the fun out of Friday afternoon." In the first issue, Harland White asked readers to let the council know about their needs and concerns. In 1983 the name of the paper was changed to PUR Newsletter, and the number of issues per year was reduced from four to two. Since 1977, there have been five editors: Glenn Griffin (1977-78), J. Robert Waler (1978-80), Howard C. Gillespie (1980-87), Frank Arganbright (1987-88), and Dick Pierce (1988-90). The Purdue Office of Publications has published all 13 of the first volumes.
Before a directory could be prepared, a number of "lost" retirees had to be located. Mrs. John W. (Swiftie) Hicks was of great assistance, providing the committee with the names and addresses of former staff and faculty members and spouses that she had collected for the Purdue Women's Club. Mrs. Hicks spent many days helping the committee dig through old files to locate addresses of retirees. The PUR Purdue University Retirees Directory appeared early in 1979 listing the names, addresses, and classification of more than 1,500 retirees and surviving spouses.
The newsletter and several editions of the directory have been paid for by Purdue University. For a number of years, Purdue has hosted an Annual Retirement Dinner honoring the staff and faculty retirees of the past year. With the formation of the Advisory Council, the University has invited the Council each year to several noon luncheons held in the Memorial Union.
Several people have provided liaison between Purdue and the Advisory Council through the years. In 1977, Kathleen L. Rydar of the Office of University Relations provided secretarial, mailing, and other administrative help. John W. Hicks, executive assistant to the president and later senior vice president, also served as the major channel for the requests from the Benefits Committee to the President's Office.
In 1978, Kathleen Rydar was succeeded by Nancy Burton, also in the Office of University Relations. In 1987, Barbara Francis of the University Development Office provided liaison between the Council and Hovde Hall. Walter S. Beltz, director of staff benefits, payroll, and insurance, furnished assistance with medical insurance and annuity problems.
When it was proposed late in 1988 that the administration of all retiree activities be shifted to Personnel Services, an ad hoc committee composed of Val Bergdolt, Hal Veenker, and Jay Wiley was appointed to survey the proposal. The committee recommended the change, and in 1989 the administration of Purdue retiree activities was shifted to the Department of Personnel Services, under the direction of Thomas G. Bittles, assisted by Susan Rund and Kim Beard. The Office of Retiree Affairs was officially established on March 23, 1990, to designate space and general services provided for retiree activities and affairs.
Max Steer, longtime professor of audiology and speech sciences, led the Advisory Council for 1977-78.
The new council chairman reappointed all three committee chairmen for another year. Max Steer was much interested in the work of the Benefits Committee and earlier had gathered information from 15 universities, including those in the Big Ten, concerning the assistance given for retiree medical insurance and the age of retirement.
John B. Peterson of the Department of Agronomy was appointed to succeed Max Steer as council chairman for 1978-79.
During the late 1970's the Benefits Committee failed in its efforts to obtain permission for Purdue retirees to purchase prescription drugs at a discount at the pharmacy operated by the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences. Local drug stores were clearly opposed to such a policy. Retirees were more successful in their efforts to play golf at a discount.
In 1978, the newsletter announced that season passes at Purdue golf courses were available for retirees at a reduced rate. Retirees were also permitted to purchase season football and basketball tickets at the lower staff rates.
During Professor Peterson's year as Council Chairman a new Service Committee was established, with Verne Freeman as chairman. The Service Committee quickly discovered that Purdue retirees were not content to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch waiting for their monthly Social Security checks. Hundreds of retirees were active in various forms of community volunteer work -- service club projects, hospital Red Coats or Pink Ladies, serving the YWCA or YMCA, local AARP, Meals on Wheels, and more. Others were Faculty Fellows or willing to be involved in the research programs of Purdue graduate students. Many retired faculty were still writing books and remaining active in their research and professional careers.
Kathleen Johnston, former professor of consumer sciences and retailing, led the Advisory Council in 1979-80.
John Stover, retired history professor, led the council in 1980-81.
Two additional committees were organized in 1980. A Liaison Committee was created to establish contact with other retiree groups in universities across the nation. It was chaired by Gladys Vail. Russell Miller led a Clerical Service Committee, formed to better serve the needs of clerical and service retirees. Purdue retiree directories were published in 1980-1981, listing names of about 1,650 Purdue retirees.
The Benefits Committee was unusually active in an effort to assist retirees who were facing a new wave of inflation. The cost of living had increased more than 30 percent between 1973 and 1977. This was followed by an inflation rate of 7.5 percent in 1978, 11.5 percent in 1979, and 13.6 percent in 1980. Postal rates furnish us with an excellent gauge of inflation -- between 1975 and 1981 the cost of mailing a first class letter rose from 10 cents to 18 cents!
Retirees in these years had received Social Security checks that were indexed to the cost of living increases. But the modest indexing provided PERF retirees by the Indiana General Assembly did not match inflation. Faculty retirees had a TIAA pension, which was not indexed, and the stock market was not providing any noticeable increase in CREF payments in the late 1970's. Purdue faculty members retiring in the late 1970's realized that they had to retire several years earlier than their colleagues in most of the Big Ten schools. Retiring at age 65 or 66 instead of 68 or 70 could mean a pension 20 percent to 30 percent lower for the early retiree.
When Congressional legislation in 1978 changed the normal age of retirement to 70, four of the five Big Ten schools with a 68 retirement age raised it to 70. Purdue made no change in its retirement age, but starting in 1979 did allow retiring faculty to teach half time until they were 70. With a fringe benefit of 22 percent, Purdue was second (tied with Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State) among Big Ten schools.
Late in 1979, the Advisory Council and the Benefits Committee asked the University administration for a grant of $20,520. The grant was to provide annual pension supplements of from $120 to $390 (with the larger payments going to those with smaller pensions) for 76 retirees (35 PERF and 41 TIAA/CREF). All of the retirees were 80 years of age or older and had served Purdue for 20 years or more. Thirty-five of the 76 retirees were receiving Purdue pensions of no more than $200 per month. It was estimated that the 76 retirees had served Purdue a total of 2400 years. The administration agreed that the "80-20" proposal was a modest and laudable request, but said it must be denied since Purdue was badly under-funded, and the acceptance of the proposal would divert funds from educational programs which had a higher priority.In the spring of 1980, the 700 Purdue retirees carrying the Purdue Medical Insurance Plan learned that premiums were to rise from $360 per year to $560, an increase of more than 55 percent. A request to the administration for financial help in this area was also denied.
In May 1980, the Purdue administration suggested that Purdue retirees, in association with retirees in the other state-supported universities, seek financial assistance from the Indiana Legislature.
Under the leadership of the Advisory Council a nonpartisan bill (House Bill 1229) was prepared during the summer of 1980, and introduced in the General Assembly early in 1981 by Stanley Jones (D-West Lafayette) and Jerome Reppa (R-Munster). The bill would provide each of the state-supported schools with a post-retirement fund equal to 1/4 percent of the previous year's appropriation for that school. In the case of Purdue, this would amount to about $250,000 for 1981-82.
In November 1980, a review of the economic problems facing Purdue retirees, a comparison of retiree programs in the Big Ten schools, and the proposed House Bill 1229 were all presented to the Purdue Board of Trustees. Neither the Purdue Board of Trustees nor the administration supported House Bill 1229. Early in 1981, members of the Advisory Council sought the support of each member in the General Assembly for the House Bill 1229. A hearing for the bill was promised, but never held, and House Bill 1229 did not pass.
By 1981 the administration had provided Room 1, Building B, South Campus Courts, as the campus office and meeting place for the several committees of the Advisory Council. In 1981-82 Russell Cosper, retired English professor and former head of the English Department, was chairman of the Advisory Council. Cosper had chaired the Program Committee in 1980-81 when that group made a significant change in the pattern of the monthly afternoon programs held in Stewart Center.
Starting in March 1981, meetings shifted to the MCL Cafeteria in West Lafayette. A program followed lunch at the cafeteria. Average attendance figures quickly rose from a dozen to 40 or more, and later to 75 or 100. Obviously, Purdue retirees preferred a meal to a free check of their blood pressure. The new monthly Monday luncheon programs included talks by retirees, townspeople, and Purdue staff members. In May 1982, Nancy Hansen, wife of President Hansen, presented a "Journey into China" slide show.
By the summer of 1981, progress reports were released on Purdue's "Plan for the Eighties." This was a major fundraising campaign to provide money for: a new Life Science Laboratory, an addition to the Civil Engineering Building, equipment for the new Technology Building, and support for research and additional distinguished professorships.
Gus Cwalina had earlier headed a 21-member retiree committee to solicit funds from Purdue retirees. The 1981 summer issue of the Retirees Newsletter reported that Purdue retirees had given or pledged $142,900 or over 1/10th of the total giving of the entire Purdue "family." In the "Plan for the Eighties," Cwalina had proven to be even a better manager of finances than his earlier Beef & Boards record.
Vivian Johnson, longtime physics professor, chaired the Advisory Council.
In the spring of 1983 the Benefits Committee had House Bill 1229 introduced in the Indiana General Assembly. The bill requested a post-retirement fund for retirees. Again, there was no positive support by the Indiana Legislature.
During 1982-83, Harry Galloway headed up an active Beef & Boards program. A total of 433 people attended nine shows producing a new profit of $748.
In December 1982, the Executive Committee of the council approved a "Bill of Rights" for retired and retiring professors. The document was based upon a program already in operation on the Purdue Calumet campus in northern Indiana. Among the "rights" were: 1) adequate office space, 2) access to departmental mailbox and secretarial help, 3) listing of retirees in campus directory, 4) representation in campus legislative and committee structure, and 5) elimination of age limits for substitute or part-time teaching. The "Bill of Rights" was forwarded to the University Senate for its consideration.
During 1982, the Benefits Committee, under the chairmanship of Kathleen Johnston, surveyed the financial status of Purdue retirees by sending out a questionnaire to 1,679 retirees and their spouses. There were 662 returns with relatively more faculty and administrative retirees responding than clerical and service retirees. In matters of age and residence, the results were quite similar to the earlier survey of 1977.
As to family income, 5 percent of the respondents had incomes under $5,000, and 23 percent had incomes under $10,000. Among clerical and service respondents 12 percent had incomes under $5,000, and 52 percent had incomes under $10,000. Some of the retirees added comments, which went beyond statistics. Here are a few:
"1981 was our best year financially"
"Certainly I'd be on relief if I had to depend on the Purdue University retirement benefit"
"Purdue's pension much appreciated"
"Thank God for social security because I would starve on Purdue retirement"
Marion B. Scott, emeritus professor of civil engineering, led the Advisory Council.
Early in the fall of 1983, the new Purdue president, Steven C. Beering, spoke to the retirees at their annual luncheon at Morris Bryant. He called Purdue retirees a national treasure and described them as "a powerful corps of ambassadors" for Purdue. In any event, Purdue retirees continued to be an active force for good both on the campus and in the community.
In 1982, more than 50 retirees gave a total of $5,500 to help equip the new Purdue Undergraduate Library, and in the fall of 1983 nearly 200 Purdue retirees pledged $11,647 to the annual Greater Lafayette United Way campaign. During the year, the Executive Committee, after reviewing earlier inconclusive polls on the advisability of creating a "Purdue Retiree Association" (with dues paying membership), decided to table the project.
Annual Purdue health insurance premiums had first been made available for all retirees in 1978. By 1983-84, the cost of the annual premiums had more than doubled. In the early 1980's, at a meeting with Prudential Insurance Company representatives, the Benefits Committee had been unsuccessful in an effort to obtain lower rates by lowering coverage.
In 1984, six of the Big Ten schools were paying part or all of retiree medical insurance costs. By 1984 some lower-income Purdue retirees had to pay from one to three months of their retirement income to pay their medical insurance premiums. In May 1984, a joint letter to President Beering from the Advisory Council and the Benefits Committee reviewed this medical insurance problem. The letter asked Purdue to pay a portion of the annual medical insurance costs. In his reply, President Beering promised that the University would consider the requests in future planning of fringe benefit programs.
Jay W. Wiley, longtime professor of economics in the School of Management, led the Advisory Council.
A change was made in the PUR committee structure in 1984-85. The Clerical and Service Committee, and the Liaison Committee, had already been terminated. And in 1984 the Service Committee was changed to become the Service/Outreach Committee, chaired by Ralph Reeder, onetime director of Agricultural Communications. This modified committee cooperated with the Lafayette Volunteer bureau so that Purdue retirees could expand their community volunteer activities.
Several retirees provided "mini-courses" for the residents of Heritage Health Care Center in West Lafayette. Purdue retirees were also asked to help the Purdue Alumni Association and the International Student Service Office update the addresses of some 9,000 foreign graduates of Purdue. A small ad hoc committee of the Advisory Council was formed to investigate special cases of financial hardship among Purdue retirees in order that President Beering might furnish temporary financial assistance.
A new Purdue Retirees Directory published in 1985 listed the names and addresses of about 2,000 Purdue retirees.
Starting in 1985, liaison was established between the Advisory Council and the University Compensation and Benefits Committee concerning medical programs.
The Program Committee continued luncheon programs at MCL, the annual Morris Bryant dinner, and several Beef & Boards trips to Indianapolis. A new feature was added when Gordon Jones, of the Program Committee, led 274 retirees on three trips to Chicago to see the Cubs play baseball in Wrigley Field. The baseball excursions netted a profit of $669. Special retiree trips also were made to the Covered Bridge Festival, a Purdue-Illinois football game, and a ragtime evening in Boggstown, Indiana.
A major event in Jay Wiley's term as Advisory Council chairman was a campaign to purchase and install a $40,000 infrared sound system to aid hearing-impaired patrons in both the Elliott Hall of Music and the Loeb Theater. Several convocation patrons urged Chairman Wiley to have PUR undertake the project. The Executive Committee of the Council voted $1,000 from profits generated from baseball and theater trips, and contributions from individual Purdue retirees amounted to more than $7,000. Jay Wiley obtained additional funds from two service clubs and the Friends of Convocations, with Purdue University furnishing the remaining money required.
Val Bergdolt, retired professor of Mechanical Engineering, led the Advisory Council.
As in previous years, the Service/Outreach Committee sought ways to involve retirees in community volunteer work. Volunteer programs were continued at the Heritage Health Center. The committee also presented two "mini-courses" for retirees ? one on Indiana wildflowers and a second on bird lore. The Program Committee continued its MCL Monday lunch programs and sponsored a bus trip to a Cubs-Mets baseball game in Chicago. More than 240 Purdue retirees gave a total of $16,464 to the 1986 United Way Campaign, a record figure for PUR.
Early in 1987 the Benefits Committee, under the leadership of Hall Veenker, professor emeritus of health education, sent out a questionnaire to 1,971 retirees, to which more than 700 replied. Again, the faculty-administrative retirees were over represented, while those in clerical/service positions were underrepresented.
The median age of respondent retirees was just over 72 years, and median length of retirement just under eight years. Purdue's preparation for the retirement years was rated as follows: excellent -- 9 percent; good -- 30 percent; adequate -- 46 percent; and poor -- 15 percent. The distribution of current income figures of those in the survey suggested that nearly a quarter of those surveyed were at or under the poverty level. The high cost of medical insurance was the greatest concern of respondent retirees, with worries about inflation in second place.
Hall Veenker, professor emeritus of health education, led the Advisory Council.
The Benefits Committee, chaired by Robert Evanson, held two open meetings to provide retirees with updated information on the Purdue Medical Insurance Program, and the new local option of HMO services provided by the Arnett Clinic. The Benefits Committee cooperated with the Faculty Task Force on the problem of ever-rising medical costs.
The Program Committee continued to have excellent attendance at its monthly luncheon programs, moving several of its sessions to Morris Bryant during a remodeling project at the MCL Cafeteria.
The Service/Outreach Committee sponsored a series of Senior Seminars at Morton School from November 1987 through April 1988. Topics ranged from Indiana history to weather, bird life, and wildflowers. There was also an expanded interest in community volunteer work, including cooperation with the Tippecanoe School Corporation, the Tippecanoe Association for Retarded Children, and the Purdue United Way drive.
In the fall of 1987, Purdue retirees not only donated over $17,000 to the United Way, but 15 retirees spent many hours preparing pledge cards, brochures, and letters required for the campaign.
Will Schalliol, longtime administrator in the Department of Chemistry and the Schools of Engineering, led the Advisory Council.
In November 1988, some 400 Purdue retirees crowded Fowler Hall for a lengthy review and discussion of PURcare and Medicare coverage for 1989 and beyond. With the new costly federal Medicare Catastrophic Program soon to be in place, many retirees hoped that annual rates for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield PURcare might modestly decline. Instead, they were once again increased.
Between 1978 and 1989, annual medical insurance costs had increased about four-fold, while inflation had not quite doubled in the same period. The high cost of medical insurance had forced many Purdue retirees, chiefly from the clerical/service ranks, to give up the Purdue medical insurance.
Early in 1990, only about 1,150 Purdue retirees were enrolled in the Purdue program. As the 1989 PUR Directory listed about 2,500 Purdue retirees, this indicated that less than half of the group was carrying Purdue medical insurance. There were reports on the campus that some older Purdue faculty members were delaying their planned retirement because of the high cost of the Purdue medical insurance for retirees.
The Program Committee secured excellent speakers for the luncheon programs during the fall and spring semesters. The Service/Outreach Committee had 15 well-attended Senior Seminars during the academic year. The committee also recruited volunteer retiree guides to lead campus tours for local gifted students.
The Executive Committee initiated a program endorsed by Executive Vice President Varro Tyler, requesting all schools and departments to include retirees in all sponsored special events.
Will Schalliol led the Advisory Council.
During the year, more than a thousand Purdue retirees signed a petition requesting changes in the income surtax financing of the Catastrophic Medical Insurance Act of 1988.
The Executive Committee considered and accepted the sponsorship of a Midwest Convention of University Retirees to be held on the Purdue West Lafayette Campus during May 1991.
Late in 1989, two well-known Purdue retirees had campus buildings named for them.
The Helen B. Schleman Hall of Student Services honored a longtime dean of women.
The John W. Hicks Undergraduate Library honored an acting president and an advisor to three Purdue presidents.
Summary: The first 14 years
The first 14 years of PUR and the President's Advisory Council on Retirement were active and productive. The ranks of Purdue retirees grew by more than 60 percent, increasing from 1,500 to 2,500.
Purdue retirees failed in their efforts to convince Purdue it should follow the example of the majority of the Big Ten schools and help retirees pay for their medical insurance. But they gratefully welcomed the reduced cost of golf and convocation tickets and information provided in directories and newsletters, all provided by Purdue.
Retirees enjoyed the mix of picnics, luncheons, seminars, and trips provided by PUR committees. They fully participated in the "Plan for the Eighties," United Way drives, the program for hearing-impaired convocation patrons, and an amazing variety of community volunteer programs.
Retirees did not realize all their hopes of the late 1970's, but they no longer felt totally "ignored and neglected" as they had before the creation of PUR.