The last year has been a productive one for TUARA. While we haven’t been able to meet in person as much as we would have liked, we have continued to work toward our goals of advocating for retirees’ benefits in Montgomery and on campus, serving the University and our community, and providing informative programs and social gatherings for our members.
This newsletter serves as an annual report of our activities and accomplishments during the 2021-2022 academic year.
We supported the Alabama Education Retirees Association’s advocacy in the Alabama Legislature by informing you about legislative activity through email updates and our website. This advocacy helped make retiree bonus checks possible this spring. We encourage you to watch for Act Now messages and contact your legislators when we ask you to in the future. It really does make a difference!
Within the University, we have TUARA representatives on a number of major committees to ensure retiree voices are heard on campus. When UA changed retired faculty and staff email addresses to retiree.ua.edu, our advocacy with the administration resulted in the elimination of the “footer” noting that the email address was provided as a courtesy to retirees.
We are pleased that TUARA now has an office at UA, room 254 Ancillary Services building, where we can work and host small meetings.
Serving the University and the Community
TUARA’s community service this year included supporting Reading Allies, Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and Books for the Black Belt. TUARA also supports the University by awarding the Robert E. Witt First-Generation Scholarship to four students each academic year. This year, we took the first steps toward the “What I Know Now” project, intended to provide support for retirees who are caregivers to parents, spouses or others.
TUARA has worked hard to provide useful and informative programs despite the limitations of the pandemic. After a year of virtual-only meetings, we were pleased to host both in-person and virtual events.
You will find more details about all these initiatives and activities in this newsletter. None of these achievements would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our outstanding Executive Board (see page ?). I thank them and I hope you will as well.
The Executive Board appreciates the privilege of serving UA’s retired faculty and staff. We invite you to visit our website, www.tuara.ua.edu, and follow us on Facebook. Please watch for emails from TUARA and contact us with your questions, suggestions and concerns.
TUARA President, 2021-2023
TUARA Events Feature Range of Topics, Speakers
From a Zoom membership meeting in the fall to the first in-person spring luncheon in three years, TUARA hosted a variety of programs during the 2021-2022 year.
Fall Membership meeting
The Fall Membership meeting, held by Zoom webinar in October 2021, featured guest speakers Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, who provided an update on COVID-19 and the University’s response to the pandemic, and Dr. Pam Parker, who presented information about Reading Allies, a volunteer organization dedicated to ensuring that all children in Tuscaloosa area schools are reading on grade-level by third grade. The program also included updates on TUARA activities and plans.
Meet Us At the Deck!
How do you renew your parking permit, get a new Action Card, pay your TUARA dues, donate to Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, see your friends and stay COVID-safe at the same time? TUARA members were able to check all those items off their lists by dropping by the Campus Drive Parking Deck for TUARA’s “Meet Us at the Deck” event on Oct. 29, 2021. TUARA’s events
committee planned the program to take advantage of the University’s Fall Study Break. With students away, TUARA members were able to drive into the deck and take care of all their UA/TUARA business at one time. Many thanks to Bama Dining for providing coffee and donut holes and to Parking Services and the Action Card staff for accommodating retirees! Watch for a similar event in October 2022.
Dr. Catherine Davies presented “Southern American English in Alabama,” the latest in a series of TUARA Talks webinars, in February 2022. Her talk was a whirlwind tour of Southern American English in Alabama from a linguist’s point of view. Davies is professor emerita of linguistics from the UA English department. She taught an upper-division course on Variation in American English for many years. She currently serves a legislative chair on the TUARA executive board. TUARA created TUARA Talks as a way to provide programming to members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President’s Luncheon and Annual Meeting
More than 100 TUARA members and guests attended the President’s Luncheon and annual meeting on April 27, 2022.
University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell hosted the luncheon at the Hotel Capstone and provided an extensive update on the University’s accomplishments over the last year. Presentations by Jill Jackson, executive director of the Alabama Education Retirees Association (AERA), as well as TUARA officers and board members, noted accomplishments during the year.
Highlights of the program included awards presentations and the election of executive board officers and members-at-large.
Awards Recognize Contributions to TUARA, Community
TUARA presented three awards to recognize outstanding contributions to TUARA and the community at the annual meeting.
The Judy Bonner Award is presented annually to a TUARA member who exemplifies the leadership and service characteristics set forth during Dr. Judy Bonner’s tenure at The University of Alabama. The Judy Bonner Award for 2022 was presented to Deborah M. Lane in recognition of her advocacy on behalf of TUARA members and education retirees throughout the state.
After retiring from UA where she served as associate vice president for university relations, Lane brought her exceptional communication skills and her characteristic enthusiasm and energy to TUARA. She served a three-year term as a member-at-large and legislative chair on the TUARA executive board. She worked diligently to develop the Act Now section of the TUARA website and encouraged members to contact their legislators. While advocating for retiree benefits in Montgomery has been part of TUARA’s mission since its founding, Lane re-energized the process and made it easier for members to participate by providing specific messages and information to communicate to legislators.
Following the completion of her three-year term on the TUARA board, Lane has continued her advocacy work for retirees on the state level. She was elected AERA (Alabama Education Retirees Association) District 10 director. In this position, she leads all AERA higher education units in support of education retiree benefits. She conducted the first virtual District 10 meeting in the fall of 2021 and has worked to coordinate efforts with retiree organizations at universities throughout the state.
The TUARA Community Service Award recognizes outstanding service to the West Alabama community. The award may be presented to a retired individual who has a record of outstanding community service in West Alabama or an organization that provides outstanding community service that benefits retirees in West Alabama. The 2022 Community Service Award was given to The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS) in recognition of the unprecedented work they did, and continue to do, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, CCHS has provided guidance and education to University administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as the entire West Alabama community on best practices for containing or avoiding the virus. Physicians at UMC regularly provided news releases, podcasts and TV town halls to keep the community informed. This included meeting with TUARA members to update them and answer questions. CCHS established vaccine protocols to protect the campus community and specifically included retirees to ensure our health. Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the College, accepted the award on behalf of all the faculty and staff of CCHS (and University Medical Center).
The TUARA Partnership Award recognizes an individual who is not a TUARA member but who has been of exceptional service to TUARA and its operation. The 2022 Partnership Award recipient is Travis Railsback, UA director of human resources. Railsback serves as TUARA’s liaison with UA.
Despite his myriad responsibilities at the University, Railsback is readily available to meet with TUARA representatives and to provide resources to our organization. He was instrumental in securing an office for TUARA, fulfilling a long-time goal for TUARA. He has alerted us to issues affecting retirees and responded to our needs and concerns throughout the year, making the executive board’s ability to serve and advocate for UA retirees easier.
TUARA Welcomes New Board Members
TUARA is pleased to introduce new executive board members, elected at the annual meeting on April 27:
Vice-President for Membership
Pamela Hudson Pruitt
Pruitt is a retiree from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Brewer Porch Children’s Center, where she served as the education director. She currently serves the Tuscaloosa community by volunteering and supporting philanthropic efforts. She was elected to a second two-year term as vice-president for membership.
Wright retired in 2017 as an associate professor with the University Libraries after 25 years of service. She has served on the TUARA board as a member-at-large and was elected to a two-year term as recording secretary after serving as acting secretary for 2021-2022.
Almond began his 30-year career in the UA department of intercollegiate athletics in 1990. He started in academic support services for student athletes and finished his career in athletic administration as deputy director of athletics. During his career at the University, he served on numerous University-wide committees.
Chapman retired on June 1, 2022 as professor and director of branch libraries in the University Libraries. She joined UA in 1988 and served as assistant director of the Angelo Bruno Business Library for many years. During her tenure at Bruno, she created the Bruno library network, the first public network in the library system, and the Bruno Library website, also the first for the UA Libraries.
Cooper is associate professor emerita in the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences’ department of advertising and public relations. Her career includes working in the advertising industry in New York City and teaching for 25 years at the Capstone.
Hebson came to UA as director of judicial affairs in 2002 having worked previously at Samford University nine years, Auburn University two years and the University of Montevallo 11 years. He was named associate dean of students in 2003 and became dean of students in 2007. He was given the title of dean of students emeritus when he retired in 2020.
Spearing retired in 2020 as chief University counsel after 32 years of service in the UA Office of Counsel. He served as legal counsel to several UA foundation boards and has been a member of numerous boards in his private capacity. He served on the Tuscaloosa Historic Preservation Commission, including as chair, and currently serves on the boards of Caring Days and the West Alabama Food Bank.
Four Students Receive Witt Scholarships
TUARA awarded four Robert E. Witt First Generation Scholarships during the 2021-2022 academic year. The scholarships, funded by TUARA members’ donations and dues, provided $500 for each student.
Each recipient must be a sophomore enrolled full-time at UA, a resident of Alabama, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be the first member of their family to attend college and have demonstrated financial need.
Fall semester recipients Bria Hutchinson and Alyssa Lukich are both nursing majors from Birmingham. Hutchinson’s goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse at UAB Hospital. Lukich has experience working with children and hopes to become a pediatric nurse.
Spring semester scholarship winners are Tyler Findley and Kaitlin Harris. Findley, of Birmingham, is majoring in creative media with a minor in music. After graduate school, Findley’s goal is to build a career as a cinematographer. Harris is a public health major from Tuscaloosa. She looks forward to becoming a health educator.
Many UA students have significant unmet financial need – the difference between the cost of attendance and the amount a student receives in financial aid. Supporting the Robert E. Witt First Generation 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.
TUARA is an active unit of the Alabama Education Retirees Association (AERA). AERA is our voice in Montgomery, thanks to their strong legislative program geared to protecting retirees’ Teachers Retirement System funding and PEEHIP benefits. AERA was instrumental in the Alabama Legislature passing the Education Retiree Bonus Check bill during the 2022 Legislative Session.
Within AERA, TUARA is a member of District 10, which represents higher education institutions throughout the state. TUARA member Debbie Lane currently serves as director of District 10.
All higher ed retirees were invited to the 2021 AERA District 10 annual meeting in November 2021 to hear updates from AERA Executive Director Jill Jackson as well as PEEHIP representatives. TUARA helped facilitate the event by hosting the virtual webinar on Zoom. Watch for details about the 2022 AERA District 10 annual meeting scheduled for August 16, 2022.
In addition, TUARA members participated in AERA meetings and workshops throughout the year. TUARA President Cathy Andreen, TUARA board member Marie Parsons, Debbie Lane and Bobby Ray Hicks represented TUARA at the AERA annual meeting in Montgomery in April 2022. TUARA legislative chair Catherine Davies, Andreen and Lane attended an AERA Advocacy Workshop in Cullman in December 2021. Andreen and Lane also represented TUARA at an AERA Leadership Workshop in Montgomery in May 2022.
TUARA was honored to receive an AERA Unit of Excellence Award for 2021 in recognition of its operations and programs throughout the year.
All TUARA members are encouraged to join AERA in addition to TUARA. They are separate organizations. For information on joining AERA, contact Cynthia Peebles at 205/792-0638 or email@example.com or visit aerainc.org.
Service Projects Benefit UA, Community
Food, Book Drives
TUARA members contributed more than 180 pounds of peanut butter and other non-perishable food as well as cash contributions to Beat Auburn Beat Hunger. These donations go directly to the West Alabama Food Bank each year.
At the spring luncheon, TUARA members donated 132 books and $240 in monetary contributions to the UA Center for Economic Development’s Books for the Black Belt project. Books for the Black Belt collects new or gently used K-12 books and distributes them to school libraries in Alabama’s Black Belt.
In the spring of 2021, TUARA became a community partner of Reading Allies, a University of Alabama System initiative focusing on elementary literacy. Through this program, volunteer tutors work one-on-one with striving readers through an individualized curriculum. Volunteers work in both the Tuscaloosa City and Tuscaloosa County school systems. TUARA has promoted Reading Allies to its members and encourages volunteerism with this important program
UA retirees gave more than $53,000 to the fall 2021 United Way campaign. These funds made a difference in the lives of those who depend on the assistance United Way provides.
Volunteer Opportunity: Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic
TUARA members are invited to volunteer and represent our community as Tuscaloosa hosts the prestigious 2022 Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic golf tournament at Ol’ Colony Golf Course this fall. The tournament will bring 120 professional women’s golfers who play on the Epsom Tour to Tuscaloosa. The tournament, along with two pro-ams, will take place the week of Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2022, with the three-round professional tournament taking place Friday, Sept. 30 through Sunday, October 2.
Whether you are a golfer or not, there are many volunteer opportunities available — from scoring to social events and more. And opportunities that involve sitting, standing or walking.
For more information and to sign up, visit https://tuscaloosatoyotaclassic.com/volunteer. In order to help with planning, please submit the volunteer form as soon as possible. Questions? Please contact TUARA executive board members Marie Robbins, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kevin Almond, email@example.com.
TUARA To Launch “What I Know Now” Project for Caregivers
The What I Know Now (WIKN) project was initiated by TUARA members and is expected to be up and running by fall 2022. The project is designed to serve as a resource to UA retirees who are providing care for a parent, a spouse or another loved one diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s or ALS. While much information is available from physicians, online resources, foundations and support groups concerning these debilitating diseases, each case is unique and that is where TUARA can step in and be a valuable resource to retirees facing the challenges of being a caregiver. The WIKN committee, chaired by Beverly Kellen, is collaborating with a UA student to design a website that will connect retiree caregivers with other UA retirees who have offered to share their own caregiving experiences. One-on-one confidential conversations with caregivers can not only be comforting, but also provide insight that one might not obtain from searching online or reading articles on the subject. These interactions are NOT intended to replace medical advice but to add a unique perspective from others who have or are currently going through the many challenges of being a caregiver. Watch for details about the project in upcoming TUARA email updates or contact Kellen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TUARA members reported 5,205 volunteer hours for 2021. That’s a big impact on our community and it’s just a fraction of our community service as only a small number of us report our hours. Why is it important to report your volunteer hours? We share reported hours with AERA. AERA, in turn, uses retirees’ volunteer hours statewide to demonstrate the value that retirees bring to Alabama’s economy and quality of life. That tremendous impact assists efforts to build support for retiree issues and benefits in Montgomery.
Please report any previously unreported hours from Jan. 1, 2022 through the present by emailing your hours, broken down by the categories in the chart below, to email@example.com.
Service hours should include activities in Alabama for which you have not received financial reimbursement. Hours should also not include 1) Sunday school and church attendance, 2) Caring for family members, and 3) Participation in AERA activities on state committees or the Board of Directors. You may include hours spent on TUARA activities, except for attending board meetings.
|# of Service Hours
|Children’s Hands-On Museum, theater, opera, arts
|Church related service projects (not attendance for worship services)
|Organizational projects, civic and special interest
|Bloodmobile, clinics, nursing home, nutrition, home care
|Mentoring, literacy projects
|Shopping, errands, escort services
|Shut-Ins, telephone, etc.
|Big Brothers Big Sisters, work related to youth programs
|TUARA volunteer activities, administrative work, communications, etc.
TUARA is pleased to welcome new members:
Kevin & Leslie Almond
Michael & Judy Britain
Randy & Sheila Davis
Carol & Joe Glover
Michael & Jeannie Largin
Gene & Kim Marsh
Rita & Ralph Martin
Charles & Hattie Nash
Dennis & Mary Jo Pursley
Richard & Elizabeth Rand
Doru & Pamela Stefanescu
Pat & Joyce Whetstone
H K & Kathleen Wu
For information about joining TUARA or renewing your membership, visit tuara.ua.edu today and click on Membership Application. Invite your retired and soon-to-be-retired friends and colleagues to join as well!
TUARA honors the memory of members who have died and expresses our sympathy to their families. Please notify Betty Wedgeworth at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of deceased individuals who should be added to the list.
Charles E. Adams
Robert E. Comas (2020)
Mary Kate Densmore
Bettie Woods Ervin
Earl Glenn (2020)
Mary Gaston Green
Jane L. Griffin
Marilyn Helms (2020)
William Gary Hooks (2019)
Robert “Bob” Howton
William A. Hughes (2018)
Bonnie Cook Jones
Robert K. Leigh (2018)
Claude Raymond Redfield
John C. Snider
Sarah Wiggins (2020)
Vergil L. Williams (2020
The University of Alabama Retirees Association
Executive Board 2022-2023
Cathy Andreen, President, email@example.com
Kevin Whitaker, Vice President/President-Elect firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Pruitt, Vice President for Membership email@example.com
Susan McGuire, Vice President for Programs/Arrangements firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Wright, Recording Secretary email@example.com
Betty Wedgeworth, Database Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Robbins, Treasurer email@example.com
Kevin Almond firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Chapman email@example.com
Caryl Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Dahl email@example.com
Catherine Davies firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Gowhari email@example.com
Tim Hebson firstname.lastname@example.org
Beverly Kellen email@example.com
Lee Pike firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Spearing email@example.com
Ben Winston firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Lane, ex officio email@example.com