Kent State Retirees Association Gives Back to the Community
Similar to graduating students who become alumni, retired Kent State University faculty and staff wish to stay connected to the university. These employees care about the institution and the Kent State community, and they want to see it thrive.
One way retired Kent State community members stay informed is through the Kent State University Retirees Association (KSURA), an organization of more than 800 retired Kent State faculty and staff committed to improving university life.
The retirees association contributes to Kent State through three scholarship funds: a spendable scholarship fund, an endowed fund and the Student Emergency Assistance Fund. The spendable scholarship fund accommodates students based on their level of financial need, while the endowed fund is intended to fund a particular department or group of students in the future.
Ava Lancaster, a senior fashion merchandising major, was awarded a $500 scholarship from the organization’s spendable after discovering them on the KSU Foundation website.
“The process was very simple because it was not time consuming and it was open to all majors and grades,” Lancaster said. “I thought it was really interesting that this group is so involved in Kent State and are still invested in the community.”
The Student Emergency Assistance fund was created during the pandemic by Rod Feldmann, a Professor Emeritus of Geology, because he recognized that students might not have access to technology at home to complete their work and remain enrolled at Kent State. Using members’ total contributions of $5400, the retirees association funded seven students in need of computers.
“We remind members of the funds and the value of those funds for students who face financial challenges,” said Rick Feinberg, Ph.D., president of KSURA and a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology. “We quickly put together enough for the fund. It made an immense difference for several students and took a large burden off their shoulders.”
Anyone who retires from a career at Kent State automatically becomes a member of KSURA. Jerry Feezel, Ph.D., a past KSURA president and the current communication coordinator, invites members to the organization once he receives an updated list of retirees from Human Resources each year. Feezel also stays connected to the university in his roles as president of the Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees (OCHER) and as Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies.
“I take the list of names I get and add them to the listserv that Hal Williams, a past president, created for us,” Feezel said. “We invite members to our monthly meetings and other events we hold throughout the year.”
KSURA hosts a monthly speaker series where members hear from colleagues and alumni about their research and related activities. The organization also has a summer picnic and a holiday luncheon; however, all events have transitioned to a virtual format for the time being due to the pandemic. Thanks to Drew Tiene, Ph.D., vice president of KSURA and a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology, KSURA still holds its monthly meetings on Google Meet so retirees can participate.
Feinberg said he strives to make the organization as interesting as possible for association members.
“We try to find engaging presenters and have enjoyable social events,” Feinberg said. “The organization is so valuable because it gives former faculty and staff the opportunity to interact and enrich their lives. I remind each member they have something valuable to bring to our group.”
Feinberg reached out to Kent State President Todd Diacon to meet with the association in June 2021. Diacon agreed and is expected to discuss recent developments at the university, along with approaches to issues of general concern and how retirees can continue contributing to the Kent State community.
“President Diacon understands KSURA is a large group of committed Kent State community members who want to leave an impact on the university,” Feinberg said. “We hope to strengthen the relationship between KSURA and the central administration through his presentation later this year.”
KSURA continually fundraises for its spendable scholarships and endowments. Feezel said the endowment fund is close to its $25,000 goal, but it needs further support before the money can be used for students.
“We urge our members to contribute to the extent that they're comfortable doing so, and we always get pretty good responses,” Feezel said. “I hope we can raise more contributions before the 2023 deadline.”
Lancaster is grateful for KSURA’s support toward her college career and encourages students to apply for the organization’s scholarships.
“It is really cool that the retirees are giving back to the university because it shows they care about Kent State and what it offers its students,” Lancaster said. “The fact that I was chosen by these former faculty and staff members is really heartwarming, and I thank them for the incredible support they have given me and other students.”
To support the Retirees Association’s scholarships and endowments, visit https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/KSURA%20Scholarships%20Giving.pdf.
To learn more about the Retirees Association, visit https://www.kent.edu/hr/retired-facultystaff.