Loyola University Chicago

Loyola Chicago Retiree Association (LUCRA)

History of LUCRA


Nick Patricca et alii

The history of our Loyola University Chicago Retiree Association [LUCRA] begins in 1999 when the university implemented an exceptionally large buyout of faculty, administrators, and staff due to an impending financial crisis. Previous to 1999, professors emeriti had been involved in university affairs but not in an organized manner. According to Frank Catania, Philosophy & retired Dean of the Graduate School, “The idea of an Emeritus Faculty Caucus dates only to about 1999. At that time, retiring faculty had the option (depending upon Department needs) of continuing to teach, after formal retirement, up to three courses a year at 1/12 of their last full-time salary per course. … The newly appointed AVP/Provost [1999], however, decided that emeriti teaching courses was not a cost the university could afford. When a new President [Michael Garanzini, SJ] and then Provost were appointed [2001], a small group of emeriti appealed the decision not to support their teaching on the grounds that having that possibility of continuing to teach was part of their decision to retire.”

From this 1999/2001 beginning, the inchoate idea of an Emeritus Faculty Caucus progressed fitfully toward a formal organization. The term “caucus” was introduced by Nick Patricca, Department of Fine and Performing Arts.

Mary Ann McDermott, School of Nursing, cites the work with emeriti of the Center for Faculty Professional Development (CFPD) as another stepping stone toward formal organizational status. The CFPD was established by Garanzini in 2004 with Noreen Facione as the Director. McDermott quotes the provost’s letter to faculty appointing Frank Catania as one of the faculty mentors: “in that role he is assisting the CFPD to build opportunities for Emeriti faculty to become involved, if they wish, in a wide variety of campus activities and projects. Frank is also available to assist those who will soon be Emeriti to optimally plan for their Emeriti years.” Contact information for Catania followed as well as an attached survey for emeriti to complete and return about emeriti involvements in current scholarly and community activities as well as interest in other opportunities open to emeriti.

The first emeriti newsletter was published in November 2005. McDermott writes, “The Newsletter included a request for Emeriti Accomplishments and gave examples to illustrate: Marilyn Susman and Jean Unsworth. Problems with how to disseminate the Newsletter were identified. Readers were directed toward the website to view ‘The Statement of Emeriti Privileges, Opportunities, Compensation, Titles and Benefits.’ A co-sponsored (with Evoke Lilly Grant) workshop held for future retirees was listed as having been held as well as a listing of upcoming University events. Travel Tips listing several websites (Elder Hostel, Sierra Club and Audubon Club) closed the newsletter.”

McDermott worked part time post-retirement assisting with the Lilly Endowment Grant on Call and Vocation. In the role of faculty coordinator, she collaborated with CFPD on several programs including faculty and staff Retirement planning. McDermott was requested by Frank Catania and Tim O’Connell (Asst Provost) to join the Center in August of 2006 part time as assistant director assisting in all activities of the Center including outreach to the emeriti.

In 2008, McDermott and Catania addressed a letter to Christine Wiseman, Provost, and Timothy O’Connell, Associate Provost, expressing concerns about plans for reorganizing the Center that might diminish CFPD involvement with emeriti faculty. [Note: LUCRA currently enjoys a strong working relationship with CFPD.]

From 2008 to 2012, Mary Ann McDermott, Frank Catania, and Nick Patricca explored with College of Arts and Sciences [CAS] deans, department chairs, and retirees the best ways of starting an organization for Loyola retirees. The principal problem encountered was obtaining accurate, comprehensive, up-to-date contact information for retired faculty. It is well to note that the School of Nursing deans and retirees were involved in this task, providing resources including contact information for their retirees.

In 2012 Jon Nilson, Department of Theology, and Nick Patricca worked together to form the retiree association. Art Lurigio, Psychology & Senior Associate Dean, CAS, secured backing of CAS dean, Tom Regan, SJ, for the formation of the Loyola University Retiree Association, the original name of which was the Loyola University Emeriti Caucus. Frank Catania and Nick Patricca gained the support of Provost John Pelissero. The support of the Office of the Provost, which included a funded budget line, was most important for the recognition of LUCRA among both retirees and Loyola University Chicago administration.

From 2013 to 2018, Jon Nilson and Nick Patricca rotated leadership of LUCRA: Nick, 2013 - 2014; Jon, 2014 - 2016; Nick, 2016 - 2018 . During this period the following building blocks of our retiree organization were put into place:

a) Budget Line through Office of the Provost

b) Website through the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

c) Office Space, originally in Cudahy, now an open issue

d) Email lists through various agencies of the university

e) Library Archives for retiree papers, oral histories, and retiree organization activities

d) Collaboration with Gannon Center for Women and Leadership with key support from Janet Sisler; Center for the Human Rights of Children; Office of Mission Integration; Campus Ministry; and notable others

e) Presentations, luncheons and other social, artistic, and scholarly events

f) Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education [AROHE] membership and attendance at AROHE Conferences

g) At AROHE Conference in Atlanta, Erwin Epstein, School of Education, in collaboration with representatives from Georgetown University, Boston College, and Santa Clara University, established the Consortium of retiree organizations of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities [AJCU].

From 2018 to 2020, Frank Fennell, English & CAS Dean, served as the director of LUCRA. Frank established budgetary procedures, developed relationships with LUC admin, and laid the foundation for committee structures of LUCRA. Frank also made a major push to involve staff retirees.

Although LUCRA had committed to involving Loyola University staff and administrators in the association, it proved most difficult to get adequate contact information on these retirees. Maureen Smith, data systems, Cheryl Sporlein, staff CAS, Jerome Lucas, chemistry lab, were among the initial staff and administrators working with LUCRA executive committee, especially on efforts to involve staff and administrators in LUCRA programs. Sue Penckofer, Nursing & Associate Dean of the Graduate School, and Lorraine Serwatka, Faculty Administration, eventually were able to gain for LUCRA a secure channel for contacting staff and administration retirees. Loraine Serwatka continues to serve on the executive committee of LUCRA.

In 2020, Nick Patricca was elected chair of the AJCU Consortium of Retiree Associations. The Consortium surveyed all 28 AJCU member institutions on retiree issues and developed core of around 19 participating AJCU schools. Erwin Epstein joined AJCU Consortium executive committee.

During 2020 – 2021, Marilyn Susman, School of Education, and Mary Ann McDermott served as joint facilitators of LUCRA. They developed an extensive committee network and an operational plan of retiree activities and programs. They also supported LUCRA participation in AROHE and AJCU.

From 2021 to the present, Verna Foster, Department of English, is serving as facilitator of LUCRA with support from Phil Nyden, Sociology, who manages communications, from David Crumrine, Chemistry, who manages a Third Thursday Zoom program on new ideas, from Erwin Epstein and Tim O’Connell, who manage the website, from Marilyn Susman and Mary Ann McDermott who work with various units of the university on retiree projects, and from a host of other Loyola Chicago retirees on all sorts of projects. Since 2021 we have also had the generous support of Gina Lopez in the Provost’s Office and the assistance of a work-study student.

The Loyola University Retiree Association is a work in progress. We are learning from other Jesuit higher ed retiree associations as well as from AROHE members. We continue to discover our strengths and limitations. We continue to contribute to the mission of our university. We continue to participate in our scholarly fields of endeavor. We continue to work to make our communities just and vital.

We understand retirement to be another form of service and participation in life.


Thank you. Nick Patricca

Passover/Holy Week 2023