Consortium of Jesuit Retiree Associations in Higher Education
Consortium of Associations of Jesuit College and University Retirees (CAJCUR)
In October 2018, at a biennial conference at Emory University in Atlanta of the Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE), Erwin Epstein, representing the Loyola University Chicago Retiree Association, reached out to representatives from the three other Jesuit universities attending the meeting – Boston College, Georgetown University, and Santa Clara University -- to inquire about the prospect of forming a consortium. The idea of a Jesuit consortium was inspired by observing the advantages of existing state retiree consortia, especially those of Georgia and California.
Erwin arranged a lunch meeting at which the representatives of the four universities agreed to consider establishing a Jesuit retiree organization, which became the Consortium of Associations of Jesuit College and University Retirees (CAJCUR). The 2018 AROHE conference thus became the venue for the founding of the Consortium. Diane Jonte-Pace, representing Santa Clara, agreed to take the lead in facilitating communications among the four universities, which became chartered members, and their representatives became the steering committee for the new Consortium. CAJCUR was thus established as the only non-state consortium in AROHE and was envisioned eventually to encompass retiree associations of the 28 Jesuit higher education institutions in North America as a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Conferences and Affinity Groups.
The main goals of the Consortium are to provide support and service opportunities as well as openings for partnerships across institutional and geographical boundaries among its member organizations. Specifically, the Consortium would share best practices in giving retirement support, confront together common challenges, and find ways to strengthen AJCU retiree associations. In addition to enjoying the support of the AJCU, the goals of the Consortium were eventually to be enhanced by working through the Jesuit Worldwide Learning Network and Ignatian Legacy Fellows.
For the two years following the 2018 AROHE meeting, progress in developing the Consortium was hampered by the Covid-19 epidemic. Communication among the steering committee members, coordinated by Diane Jonte-Pace, was done mostly via a listserv. On August 11, 2020, the steering committee held its most important (Zoom) meeting until that date. Diane declined to continue as chair, and Nick Patricca, Loyola Chicago, replaced her. Diane was elected secretary and assisted Nick in his role as chair. Nick and Diane were to be assisted by Deanna Howes Spiro, Vice President of Communications at the AJCU, and progress from that point developed quickly and tangibly. At that meeting the steering committee, composed of the chartered representatives from Boston, Loyola Chicago, and Santa Clara (Georgetown was absent), exchanged information on the programs that their respective retiree associations had been conducting. In addition, the committee agreed to conduct a survey to discover the number and identity of AJCU members with active retiree organizations. After that meeting, the steering committee continued to correspond frequently by e-mail and met occasionally by Zoom.
Later that month, Nick reported correspondence he had with Fr. Michael Garanzini, president of AJCU (and formerly president of Loyola Chicago), who responded favorably to our goals. Bill Licamele, representative on the steering committee from Georgetown, volunteered to use his good contacts at several Jesuit universities to enlist new members to the consortium, which had not yet expanded from the original four chartered universities: Boston, Georgetown, Loyola Chicago, and Santa Clara. Meanwhile, Deanna Howes Spiro suggested that the Consortium status within the AJCU be advanced from an “Affinity” group to a “Conference”. A Conference has regular meetings, posts minutes online, and has bylaws. Deanna agreed to create a page for the Consortium on the AJCU website, with links to the individual retiree organizations. The steering committee agreed to have Nick and Alec Peck of Boston College develop a survey to be sent to other Jesuit retiree associations outlining the Consortium’s goals and asking the recipients to respond to three questions: 1) How do you keep in communication with your retirees? 2) How active are your retirees in the projects of your college/university, especially in implementing your programs and planning for your best future? 3) How can our Consortium assist you in working with your retirees?
In the Fall of 2020, the steering committee queried via email the provosts, human resources directors, faculty senates, and retiree association officers of AJCU institutions to describe the objectives and advantages to having their retiree associations join the Consortium. The memo included a brief survey to assess these institutions’ potential interest in becoming members.
Of the 27 AJCU members surveyed, Nick and Alec Peck received responses from 17 institutions. The responses overall were quite favorable. One institution sought help for setting up an association, several others requested information on the retiree activities of other ACJU members, and still others sought best practices documents to guide their development. A memo sent to the responding associations on February 13, 2021 summarized the survey results and posted a long list of recommendations that focused mostly on items of communication and participation. In brief, the survey did much to bring attention of the AJCU community to the Consortium’s work, and, indeed, served to recruit new members.
The Consortium now had a reliable list of interested AJCU retiree associations. Using this list, the steering committee organized a Zoom conversation on September 20, 2021 in which representatives of two of its most active organizations – those of Boston College and Georgetown University – shared practices that they found most effective.
Another important landmark in the Consortium’s development occurred when Nick and Diane presented a slide show at the October 12-14, 2021, virtual AROHE biennial conference titled “Partnering Across Boundaries: Transferable insights from a Consortium of Jesuit Universities.” This event brought attention of the Consortium’s work not only to the AJCU community, but to the entire range of retiree associations in North America. The Consortium also hosted a virtual break-out session for attendees from Jesuit universities.
As the Consortium started to flourish, Nick asked Diane to be co-chair in order to facilitate development and organization. He also asked the steering committee to formally establish a committee of advisors to assist the committee in decision making and implementation.
At the recommendation of Michael J. Garanzini, SJ, president of the AJCU, under the leadership of Diane and Nick, the steering committee developed a list of primary contact persons at AJCU member institution: one from admin, preferably from the provost’s office, and one from the retirees. To date, there are contact persons identified in 24 of the AJCU membership.
In 2022, Canisius College asked for assistance in developing retiree programming. The steering committee decided to use Canisius as an example of cooperation in the formation of a retiree association and programming by inviting representatives from Canisius to join the steering committee and the advisory committee to the Consortium.
With this basic foundation in place, Nick submitted his resignation in Spring of 2023. At the Spring 2023 meeting of the steering committee, Nick’s resignation was accepted, and a leadership model was established in which one outgoing chair is replaced by an incoming chair for a two-year term with the current chair having a one-year term. This model was designed to ensure continuity and active participation of member institutions. Accordingly, Robert Taggart of Boston College is co-chair [2 year-term] with Diane Jonte-Pace [one year].
Erwin Epstein and Nick Patricca