President’s Report

Photo of Barry Mason
Barry Mason, TUARA President

As we enter the new academic year, I am excited about the prospects for a productive and fulfilling year for TUARA. We have a strong, diverse Executive Board committed to advocacy on behalf of our fellow retirees and we are looking forward to working with you, our members, on achieving our goals.

Our focus this year and beyond will be on recruitment, retention and advocacy while continuing to offer social interaction opportunities, volunteer opportunities  and a wide array of speakers on topics of interest to our membership. Our goals are as follows:

  • Increase awareness by members and others of the importance of advocacy for retiree benefits on campus and in Montgomery.
  • Strengthen our relationship with the Alabama Education Retirees Association (AERA) and develop closer relationships with other higher education retiree groups so that we can speak with one voice in educating state legislators about our priorities.
  • Continue to revamp our communication strategy to allow more frequent and meaningful interaction with our membership.
  • Grow our active membership to at least 400.

We ask you, as TUARA members, to partner with us in reaching these goals. We need you to share your views with us, support our programs and initiatives, and help recruit and retain members so that we can speak with a stronger voice on behalf of retirees. I look forward to meeting or reconnecting with you at TUARA events and to hearing from you throughout the year.

Barry Mason
2019-2021 TUARA President


Maddox to Speak on Nov. 15

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will discuss his Elevate Tuscaloosa Plan at TUARA’s fall membership meeting on Nov. 15. A representative of UA Parking Services will also present updates on campus parking. The meeting will be at 10 a.m. at the UA Child Development Research Center Training Room. Don’t miss this chance to hear directly from the mayor. Plan now to be there and bring your questions.


Fun on the Bama Belle!

 TUARA kicked off the 2019 fall semester with a cruise on the Bama Belle. Members and friends enjoyed a two-hour trip on the Black Warrior River.

Students awarded Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship

University of Alabama sophomores Aliayah Coleman and Carmen Pedroza De Lovett have been awarded TUARA’s Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship for the 2019 fall semester. The scholarships, funded by TUARA members’ donations, provided $500 for each student for the purchase of textbooks.

Aliayah Coleman is from Decatur and is majoring in accounting and theatre. As for her dream career, Aliayah says, “I plan on becoming a professional actress but in the meantime, I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in accounting because I have a passion for it too!” She always dreamed of going to college but financially that dream seemed impossible because her father is disabled. She worked two jobs while maintaining her grades and staying active in school.  On campus, she serves as a peer mentor to new and incoming first-generation students who like herself are in the Legacy Scholars Program. For spring/summer 2020, she plans on working towards her first internship in either theatre or accounting.

Carmen Pedroza De Lovett is from Thomasville. She is majoring in Spanish with a minor in anthropology. Carmen is working to become fluent in Spanish to prepare to travel in different South American and European countries. She dreams of working in the entertainment industry, performing in both English and Spanish.

For many students, the unmet financial need – the difference between the cost of attendance and the amount a student receives in financial aid – is great. Supporting the Robert E. Witt First Generation Book Scholarship is one way to make a difference for students in need. Please help by making a contribution. Make your check payable to The University of Alabama with “Robert E. Witt Book Scholarship” in the memo line. Mail your donation to TUARA, Box 861493, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-0013. You will receive a tax-deductible statement from the University.


Photo cutlines:

  1. Aliayah Coleman
  2. Carmen Pedroza De Lovett


Speakers Highlight Spring Luncheon

More than 100 TUARA members attended the annual luncheon and general membership meeting hosted by UA President Stuart Bell on April 16. Members heard Bell’s annual institutional update, received information from TUARA legislative committee chair Debbie Lane about legislative issues affecting retirees and participated in the TUARA business meeting. The Judy Bonner Award and TUARA Partnership Award were presented at the luncheon (see page ?). For many of the facts Bell presented, visit

Incoming President Barry Mason briefly addressed the TUARA membership. He thanked Kathleen Cramer for her leadership as president the last two years. He noted that TUARA’s primary focus is on protecting our retirement, our health care benefits and the UA budget as well as giving retirees a voice in UA governance.



Judy Bonner Award Presented to Marvin McKinley

Marvin McKinley, TUARA treasurer from 2015-2019, was honored with The Judy Bonner Award for Leadership and Service at the general membership meeting at the Capstone Hotel in April. The award is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies the leadership and service characteristics set forth during Dr. Judy Bonner’s tenure at The University of Alabama.

two men and a podium
TUARA President Barry Mason (left) presented the Bonner Award to Marvin McKinley.

Bonner served as UA president from 2012-2015. Her career at UA spanned decades and included serving as dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and executive vice president and provost.

In nominating McKinley for the award, Mildred Switzer noted that McKinley “came to TUARA with a resume of community service…and added to these experiences invaluable contributions to TUARA.”

A long-time professor of chemical engineering at UA, McKinley has devoted his retirement to community service. Described as “skilled, multi-talented, dedicated and hands-on,” McKinley volunteer efforts have ranged from construction projects to serving on the boards or civic and community organizations. His service has included the following projects:

  • As a volunteer with the Solid Waste Disposal Authority for three years, he ran the landfill and incinerator.
  • He served on the Tuscaloosa Public Library board for eight years, including four as chair.
  • As a member of the Habitat for Humanity board, he organized a non-denominational group called the “Wednesday Crew.”  Under his leadership, this crew built more than 10 houses in the Tuscaloosa area.
  • He served as construction supervisor for the Southwest United Methodist District with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), leading efforts to build and repair homes damaged by the April 2011 tornado. To date, eight homes have been built in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding counties.
  • After the 2011 tornado, his talents, knowledge and driving spirit caught the attention of FEMA and he was sent to Galena, Alaska, to repair homes damaged by ice.

In addition, McKinley led or participated in church construction projects in Alaska and Maine. As a member of the committee that oversees the Methodist Bishop’s home in Birmingham, he serves as liaison with contractors for repairs and renovations.

“While he may have been building with hammer and nails on many of these projects, his contributions to TUARA as treasurer for the past four years have demonstrated his financial knowledge and wise management,” Switzer wrote.

“Marvin exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding and knowledgeable leader, who possesses personal integrity and a dedicated drive to assist and serve.”


Tia Hathorne Honored with First TUARA Partnership Award

three ladies in a large room
Kathleen Cramer (left) and Pam Pruitt (right) congratulate Tia Hathorne on receiving the TUARA Partnership Award.

Tia Hathorne, concierge at Capstone Village, was presented with the first TUARA Partnership Award, at the spring general membership meeting in recognition of her exceptional service to TUARA. The Executive Board meets monthly at Capstone Village and Hathorne is the primary point of contact.

“Capstone Village has become our ‘home base’ largely due to Tia’s leadership and support,” said Kathleen Cramer, 2017-2019 TUARA president, noting Hathorne’s “courteous and consistent accommodation” of TUARA’s meeting needs.

“Tia is not only hospitable but also very efficient in helping with board meetings as well as specially called meetings.”


New Officers, Board Members Elected

Several new officers and members-at-large were elected to the TUARA executive board at the general membership meeting in April.

four people stand in front of a wall
New executive board members (L-R) Ronnie Robertson, Angela Wright, Donna Keene and Don Crump. Hank Lazer (not pictured) is also newly elected to the board.

Elected to two-year terms (2019-2021) as officers were Barry Mason, president; Cathy Andreen, vice president/president-elect; Donna Keene, vice president-programs; Molly Lawrence, vice president-membership (second term); Mary Bess Paluzzi, recording secretary, and Ron Dulek, treasurer. Newly-elected members-at-large are Don Crump, Hank Lazer, Ronnie Robertson and Angela Wright. Members-at-large were elected to three-year terms (2019-2022).

Current officers and board members also include Kathleen Cramer, immediate past president; Betty Wedgeworth, database secretary, and members-at-large Phil Crunk, Benton Gup, Gina Johnson, Carlene Jones, Debbie Lane, Pam Pruitt, Ruth Roberts, Mildred Switzer and Voni Brown Wyatt.

The membership also approved an amendment to the TUARA constitution adding the position of immediate past president as a voting member of the Executive Board. The immediate past president will serve a one-year term on the board.

News from AERA District 10

three ladies in front of a sign
(L-R) Mildred Switzer, Cathy Andreen and Kathleen Cramer represented TUARA at the AERA annual meeting in May.

Thank you to all who attended the Alabama Education Retirees Association District 3 annual meeting in Northport as well as those who traveled to Montgomery for the AERA District 10 annual meeting in August. The reports from the AERA president and executive director focused upon our major concern – MEMBERSHIP.  There is strength in numbers, which strengthens our position when seeking support from our legislators. We continue to ask for a  COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) or, as an alternative, a supplemental check. Your help is needed by being an AERA member and inviting your UA retiree friends and colleagues to join as well. Go to for membership information and the membership form.

Representatives from PEEHIP and Humana were also present at the district annual meetings to inform attendees about the upcoming switch in our health care insurance provider from UnitedHealthCare to Humana effective Jan. 1, 2020. This change affects Medicare-eligible retirees and Medicare-eligible dependents. Education retirees are encouraged to attend one of the PEEHIP-Humana informational meetings or teleconferences for additional details.  For a schedule of meetings go to:  We were assured by both PEEHIP and Humana representatives that there will be only minor routine changes with a few additional offered benefits.

Mildred Switzer

AERA District 10 Director


Volunteer Opportunities: West Alabama Food Bank, STREAM

Pamela Pruitt, volunteer committee chair, has identified these opportunities to participate in community service this fall:

TUARA members will volunteer at the West Alabama Food Bank by packaging meals for hungry children on Friday, Oct. 18 from 8-10 a.m. Please join us in assisting with this important program – Secret Meals/Backpack Meals — that helps bridge the nutritional gap for children who many not otherwise have enough to eat over the weekend. The West Alabama Food Bank is located at 3160 McFarland Boulevard in Northport.

TUARA also participates in an on-going service project donating items for STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) projects in the local school systems.  The following items are needed:  plastic storage bags (all sizes), cardboard  paper towel/toilet paper tubes, plastic cups, scotch tape, foil, markers, paper plates, tooth picks, Q-tips, pipe cleaners, plastic spoons, playdough, duct tape, egg cartons, index cards, rubber bands, Legos, marbles, popsicle sticks, coffee filters, and straws. Items may be dropped off at Southview Elementary School in the front office on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or brought to TUARA events.


Volunteer Hours Show Retirees’ Impact on Community

TUARA members make a difference in the West Alabama community and beyond every day. From January through July 2019, some 38 TUARA members have reported 2,375 volunteer service hours and there are many more unreported hours.

Why is it important to report volunteer service hours? TUARA sends these hours to the Alabama Education Retirees Association. AERA, in turn, uses reported hours to demonstrate the impact education retirees continue to have on the state’s economy – an important talking point when discussing retiree benefits with state legislators. AERA converts community service hours to a monetary value at the rate of $24.00 per hour. Using this calculation, TUARA volunteers have given $57,000 in service to the state so far this year.

Watch for the monthly e-mail message requesting service hours and be sure to report yours! It’s not too late to report hours from January 2019 to the present.

Many thanks to all TUARA volunteers. Your service to the community is much appreciated!


Financial Report

Financial report sent separately in Excel file.


News Briefs

TUARA Receives AERA Award

TUARA received the AERA 2019 Unit of Excellence Award at AERA’s annual meeting in May. The award resolution states the criteria for the award “were adopted and implemented to encourage improvements in local unit organization and programs.” It commends TUARA for achieving the level of excellence in its operations and programs for the 2018-2019 year. 

Visit Us at the Work-Life & Wellness Expo         

TUARA will be represented at UA’s annual Work-Life & Wellness Expo on Oct. 9 from 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum. Please stop by the TUARA/AERA table and encourage your soon-to-be-retired friends to come by for information as well.

Free Membership for New Retirees

TUARA offers a free one-year membership to new retirees. Please help us spread the word to friends and colleagues who plan to retire soon. It’s a great way to welcome new retirees and give them a chance to get involved with TUARA.

The free one-year membership is not retroactive and must be used at the time of retirement. Regular membership is $25 per year.

Like Us on FaceBook!

Here’s another way to keep up with TUARA news – like us on FaceBook. Just search for The University of Alabama Retirees Association (TUARA) and join the group.


TUARA Welcomes New Members

Linda and Robert Carden

Ray and Melanie Gowhari

Robert Marshall

Jan Scurlock

Geri Stone

Carolyn Wiggins

Angela Wright

For information about joining TUARA or renewing your membership, visit today and click on TUARA Membership Application.  Invite your retired and soon-to-be-retired friends and colleagues to join as well!

In Memoriam

TUARA honors the memory of members who have died and expresses our sympathy to their families. Please notify Betty Wedgeworth at if you know of deceased individuals who should be added to the list.

Majeed Alsikafi

Grace Bishop

Larry Brackin

John L. Brown

Loreta Holder-Brown

Walter Densmore, Jr.

Segail Friedman

Harry Lee

Frances McKenzie

Mary Gray Porter

James Taaffe

Coming Events and Programs

 Oct. 9, 2019    UA’s Annual Work-Life & Wellness Expo, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Coleman Coliseum

Oct. 10, 2019  Executive Board meeting, 3 p.m., Capstone Village

Oct. 18 , 2019  Volunteer at West Alabama Food Bank, 8-10 a.m.

Nov. 14, 2019 Executive Board meeting, 3 p.m., Capstone Village

Nov. 15, 2019 TUARA Fall Membership Meeting, 10 a.m.

UA Child Development Research Center Training Room

Speaker: Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox on the Elevate Tuscaloosa Plan

Jan. 9, 2020     Executive Board meeting, 3 p.m., Capstone Village

Feb. 13, 2020  Executive Board meeting, 3 p.m., Capstone Village


The University of Alabama Retirees Association
Executive Board 2019-2020


Barry Mason, President
Cathy Andreen, Vice President/President-Elect
Kathleen Cramer, Immediate Past President
Molly Lawrence, Vice President for Membership
Donna Keene, Vice President for Programs/Arrangements
Mary Bess Paluzzi, Recording Secretary
Betty Wedgeworth, Database Secretary
Ron Dulek, Treasurer


Don Crump
Phil Crunk
Benton Gup
Gina Johnson
Carlene Jones
Deborah Lane
Hank Lazer
Pam Pruitt
Ronnie Robertson
Ruth Roberts
Mildred Switzer
Angela Wright
Voni Brown Wyatt