Jump to featured news Jump to other news and events
Purdue signature

PURA history: 1991-2001

By Velma Schanke and Barbara Doster (years 1991-2002)

Onward to the Future: 1991-2001

In the years 1991 through 2001, the history of the Purdue University Retirees tells a story of progress and problem solving, challenges and opportunities, and the joy of working in the Purdue community.

Opportunities, privileges, and benefits continue to be possible for Purdue retirees as they change their focus from work to retirement.

In these years, the annual August luncheon -- held for many years at the Morris Bryant Restaurant, which was destroyed by fire and a tornado -- moved to University Inn and Conference Center. Presentations were made by Presidents Steven C. Beering and Martin Jischke, and Timothy J. McGinley, chairman of the University Board of Trustees

Retirees continued to meet monthly for luncheons at MCL Cafeteria. Gatherings remained popular, drawing over 100 people. The subjects were often educational as well as entertaining: "Red Skelton: The World Was His Stage, So Was Kmart," "Exercise: Are You Getting a Return on Your Investment?" "Heart Attack!! From 911 to Recovery," "Development of the Kampen Golf Course," "The Long Center Restoration as a Legacy for All," "Our Aging Skin," and "The Galileo Mission."

Senior Seminars were held for several years at the Morton Community Center. The final series was in the fall of 1996, with topics ranging from "Insights on the Future of Purdue's Black Cultural Center" to "The 911 System."

Beginning in March 1993, Wabash Area Lifetime Learning Association (WALLA) offered classes at Morton Community Center and Jenks Senior Center. The sessions were of interest to retirees and included a variety of subjects: "Indiana Art," "Historic Downtown Lafayette," "Woodworking for the Hobbyist," "Frank Lloyd Wright," Using the Internet," and "Latest Information on Estate and Financial Planning."

WALLA is an affiliate of Elderhostel, which offers programs during the year at eight sites across Indiana including Purdue. Among the programs are: "The Art of Entertainment: Choral Music Workshop," "Flight of the Imagination: Aeronautics, Astronautics and the Conquest of Space," "Understanding Animals, Understanding Us," and "Making Your Footsteps in History: Developing the Museums at Prophetstown."

Duties of the Service/Outreach Committee, which included trips and tours, were divided between the Community Service and the Trips and Tours committees.

Retirees traveled and enjoyed learning as they visited places near (Commandant's Residence, Indiana Veteran's Home) and far (overnight trip to Madison, Indiana, and Chicago's Field Museum).

A variety of benefits became available to University retirees, including free health screenings and flu shots, free "A" parking stickers and free rides aboard CityBus. A wide array of business discounts was also made available to Purdue retirees.

The University continued to honor those who retired each year at an annual banquet in the Purdue Memorial Union.


The President's Advisory Council on Retirement (PACR) planned to host the Sixth Conference on Retirement in Colleges and Universities. Unfortunately, there were only 12 pre-conference registrations, and the conference was canceled.

Several Purdue University retirees were instrumental in raising funds for the new Class of 1950 Lecture Hall and helped dedicate it in October.

Permanent plastic identification cards for retirees were made available in the Bursar's Office. Retirees were asked to use the cards when checking materials out of the Purdue Libraries.

The ID card could also be used by retirees when purchasing tickets at staff rates for convocations and athletic events.

Tuition reductions were made available to retirees who enrolled in classes at any of the Purdue campuses. The Office of Admissions at each campus was charged with determining the retiree/student's eligibility.

Personnel Services continued to provide assistance and support for PACR and the retirees, with Ben Mays serving as the liaison between PACR and the benefits staff. Exploring ways to control or reduce medical insurance, Mays wrote to more than 700 retirement offices at institutions of higher education for information.

The Purdue University Retirees Directory was mailed biannually to all official retirees. The 40-page directory was published jointly by the Communications Committee of PACR, the Development and Alumni Information Service, and the Department of Personnel Services.

A History of PUR: Purdue University Retirees 1976-1990 was written by John F. Stover, professor emeritus of history. The book described the founding of PACR and the first 15 years of support for the Purdue University Retirees. The booklet was printed by the University and made available to retirees.


Purdue officials hoped to offer a long-term care insurance package. Before selecting a plan, reasonable cost and stability of the plan were considered.

The University's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered help to retirees who had concerns or problems with elderly relatives. EAP staff members were available to assist retirees, faculty, and staff in forming support groups.

With the winter issue of the PUR Newsletter, the editors began including excerpts from Cooperative Extension Service bulletins that dealt with nutrition and aging.

To help plan future educational programs for retirees, a survey was distributed asking what types of enrichment courses would be preferred.

The Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union began a discount service for depositors 50 years old and older. The program, called Pyramid Club, entitled seniors to a variety of services.


Two guides with information on buying long-term care insurance were made available by Ben Mays, Office of Retiree Affairs liaison. They were:


      Long-Term Care Insurance Self-Assessment Guide, and


      Some Questions When Considering Long-Term Care Insurance.

The "Gold Rush Card," a pass that saved retirees about 30 percent for Purdue athletic events, was introduced. It admitted buyers to all 1993-94 athletic events, excepting men's basketball games.

An updated 1993 Purdue University Retirees Directory was distributed.


Peggy Conte and Ed Frickey traveled to the Big Eleven Conference on Retiree Organization. The group met to discuss issues common to the Big Ten universities' retirees, including health care and volunteering.

The annual Purdue retirees meeting on health insurance was held in early November to review PURCare coverage and premium costs.


Purdue retirees were represented by Ed Frickey, Don Gustafson, and James Wagner at the Big Eleven Conference of Retiree Organization Representatives meeting at Michigan State University to discuss health and welfare issues of retirees.

The Purdue University Retirees Newsletter added one issue annually, becoming a thrice-yearly publication.


Retirees were recognized with honorary doctoral degrees and professional awards. The new Academic Park honors Book of Great Teachers, including 225 Purdue faculties, many of whom are retirees.

Highlights for retirees included an invitation to join the Purdue family in northeastern Indiana for vacation in July.

The first three deans of students -- Beverley Stone, Barbara Cook, and Betty M. Nelson -- were honored with entrance markers at specified locations on the campus.

John Hicks, senior vice president emeritus, chaired fundraising efforts for the new Black Cultural Center.


Retirees helped with the AIDS memorial quilt, served as readers and graders for freshman essays, planted flowers and shrubs on campus, and worked in the Purdue Memorial Union's Visitor Information Center.

A survey of retirees confirmed that they contributed $1.2 million to the University. A total of 2,873 retirees (12.2 percent) returned the surveys. From 1979 to 1998, 2,241 retiree donors gave $17,279,084 to the University.


Mary Hentschel took part in formal ceremonies honoring her husband, Win Hentschel, who retired in 1989 after 40 years service to Purdue University and died in 1993. Win Hentschel Boulevard is named for him.

Richard Grace compiled the results of surveys of retirees' reports on "What's Important?" The report offered a compelling statistical and personal look at Purdue retirees.

On average, the retirees were 73 years old and had been retired 9.3 years. The responding population was divided equally by gender. Areas considered of most importance by retirees were freedom and leisure, finances, health, work, helping others, and relocation.

Another survey of retirees was completed asking about volunteer activities. The survey showed that many retirees volunteer and continue with student, faculty and staff activities.

A third feasibility survey was prepared by an ad hoc committee to consider development of a pre-retirement, retirement facility in West Lafayette to be called University Place.


The Board of Trustees granted fee remission to retiree spouses.

An updated directory of University Retirees was mailed in the fall to retirees.

Richard Grace reported on additional information from the Retirees survey. The survey showed that keys to successful retirement included:

    * the attitude one has is important, not the events, age, gender, or degree of stress and anxiety from some of life's events.

    * Retirees who perceive themselves in control of their lives have the ability to cope with all of life's situations. A positive attitude encourages retirees to remain purposeful, deeply connected to family and friends, open to continued learning from life, and contented with ourselves as human beings.

    * How we deal with life's challenges is likely to affect their eventual outcomes.

    * Making a difference in the lives of others -- volunteering, helping at church, caring for a neighbor, giving talent and treasure to a good cause -- creates a successful retirement.

The A.J. Ismail Center opened, bringing a health club atmosphere to Lambert Gym. Exercise equipment and a range of assessments and supervised exercise programs were made available to retirees.

PACR looked at insurance surveys from 1998-99 and identified communication difficulties in claim settlements, lack of Medicare-Anthem cooperation, and many problems with the prescription drug operation.

The University Place ad hoc committee contacted an outside group to conduct a feasibility study in Tippecanoe and seven surrounding counties. Plans proceeded to create University Place near the West Lafayette campus.

Jane P. Beering was recognized for her 17-year impact on the University. She was honored at the annual luncheon in August and given a sketch of the renovation of David Ross Memorial and Garden. The garden was to be dedicated May 3, 2001.

Betty Suddarth, chair of the Community Service committee was instrumental in creating the Boiler Volunteer Network (BVN), established by PACR and the Greater Lafayette Volunteer Bureau. BVN is to enable organizations interested in Purdue volunteers to list their projects and need for volunteers. It is designed to make volunteering easier and more rewarding for faculty, staff, retirees, and students.

Retirees led the "March for the Band" fund drive with Al G. Wright, director of bands emeritus, and June Ciampa Lauer, former Golden Girl. The committee raised $2.76 million.


Howard G. Diesslin led the Advisory Council.

PURCare annual premiums were raised 10.5 percent for 2000, marking the first increase since 1996.

Prescription drugs became an option with Anthem.

Computing Center services become broadly available to all retirees (now available only to emeritus retirees).

Plans for University Place moved forward as a partnership was developed with Franciscan Communities. The partnership was to seek information from focus groups; develop a preliminary plan for development; and handle construction, marketing and management.

Details of the residential community were as follows:

    * An appealing residential location for a wide range of pre-retired and retired citizens from both town and gown.

    * Residences will range from condominium apartments to multiplexes and assisted living and health-care units.

    * There will be a variety of rental, entrance-fee, and modified-equity options to choose from.

    * It will be located close to Purdue and West Lafayette, with a location that facilitates the involvement of residents in the Greater Lafayette community.

    * An education/cultural center will offer residents and others educational, cultural and social opportunities.

    * University Place will have 93 independent living apartments and 16 garden homes, 48 assisted-living suites, and 30 private skilled nursing apartments.

PUR Newsletter began its 25th year with a new editor at the helm. Managing editor Lyn Doyle, who began the newsletter retired and was succeeded by Julie Rosa. Rosa's responsibilities also included the Perspective Quarterly newspaper for Purdue parents, alumni, and friends; and Inside Purdue, the biweekly newspaper for faculty and staff.

Each issue of the PUR Newsletter listed retirees in the news, In Memoriam, and the names of recent retirees.

Retirees, Roy Johnson, the late Frank Murphy, and Sarah Johnson, received Special Boilermaker Awards from PAA. The awards, established in 1991, honor a person who has contributed significantly to improving quality of life and/or bettering the educational experience for a substantial number of Purdue students.


Betty Nelson led the Advisory Council.

Chair Betty Nelson looked forward to the development of a PACR Web site with information of special interest to retirees and a link to the Purdue home page.

Nelson sought to develop an active partnership with the new Boiler Volunteer Network on the West Lafayette campus; and conducted a survey of retirees to determine the level of interest in creating special interest groups, such as computing for beginners, antique cars, and book reviews. Plans called for expanding trips and tour activities to include an overnight trip along with local tours with no advance registration, and to create a new brochure on retiree benefits.

The 25th Annual Purdue University Retirees luncheon was held at University Inn on August 27, 2001. It was chaired by Mary Fuqua. The theme was "A 20/20 Vision" and each attendee was asked to bring old eyeglasses to be donated to Lions Club for distribution to those not able to afford glasses.

The Benefits Committee reported that the current provider of health insurance did not allow open enrollment. Drug coverage was changed for 2001 to a $500 deductible with no limit, instead of a $100 deductible with a $1,000 limit.

The Community College of Indiana (Ivy Tech) began offering free classes to senior scholars 60 and older. The program included credit courses only, taken for a letter grade.