Purdue University Retirees Association (1976-present) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
The Purdue University Retirees became active as an organized group in 1976 when President Arthur G. Hansen created the President’s Advisory Council on Retirement (PACR). President Hansen created PACR in response to concerns raised by retirees that the university had become disconnected from the needs of its retired employees. Originally, the council consisted of an Executive Committee, which was composed of the council chairperson and chairs of three committee: Benefits, Program, and Communications. Over the years, several other committees were formed but in the early years the original three committees performed the majority of the council’s work. A top priority for the first chairman of the Advisory Council, Harland W. White, was to survey Purdue retirees to better assess their needs. The survey revealed that rising inflation in the mid to late 1970s had seriously affected the standard of living of university retirees. One of the retirees’ major concerns was the escalating cost of health care. The Benefits Committee urged the administration to include all retirees under the university’s group medical insurance coverage. In the summer of 1977 the Purdue Board of Trustees agreed to an expanded plan in which the costs of the administration of the health insurance plan were to be paid by Purdue University with individual retirees paying the insurance premium.
The Program Committee initiated a series of theater trips to the Beef & Boards Dinner Theater in Indianapolis. They also arranged monthly programs at the university that covered topics that ranged from tax tips to health care. The first annual retiree luncheon was held in the late summer of 1977 at Purdue’s Memorial Union. Another annual event was started that year, the retirees’ summer picnic, which was first held at The Hills and was later moved to West Lafayette’s Happy Hollow Park.
The Communications Committee created the retiree newsletter, which first appeared in the winter of 1977, and published the biannual retiree directory in 1979. The retiree directory information was first published as a special section of the Purdue Telephone Directory in 2001 and mailed to all retirees.
Over the years PACR has worked with the university administration to provide retirees with comprehensive health care coverage and reduced prescription prices. They have also urged the administration to provide additional benefits such as tuition reductions, complementary campus parking permits and reduced rates for convocation programs, athletic events, recreational facilities, and golf courses. PACR and the retirees worked together to make significant contributions to the university. In 1982, retiree donors gave $5,500 to equip the new Undergraduate Library. In the mid-1980s, PACR purchased and installed a $40,000 infrared sound system in both the Elliott Hall of Music and the Loeb Theater to aid the hearing impaired. PACR used profits generated from baseball and theater trips with additional funding provided by individual retirees. From 1979 to 1998 Purdue retirees have donated over seventeen million dollars to the university, and from 2000 through 2011, retirees’ gifts averaged over four million dollars a year.
In the 2001-2002 year, two major events occurred which would have a significant impact on PACR. The first was the creation and associated funding of the Arthur G. Hansen Recognition Award to be awarded to a department/school for cultivating and maintaining a particularly meaningful relationship with its retirees. The second event, approved by Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, was the adoption of an official set of bylaws that changed the name of the organization to the Purdue University Retirees Association (PURA) and guaranteed a source of annual funding from the Office of the President.
PURA’s primary purpose is to serve Purdue’s retirees. At its beginning, the Council stated that, “The purpose of PACR shall be to bring into closer association the retired staff members of Purdue University in order to carry out educational programs for such staff members, to enhance their welfare and fellowship, and to strengthen communication channels with the University in such a manner as to be mutually beneficial.” Today, PURA continues to work to improve the status of and opportunities for Purdue retirees.
Sketch initially composed by Joanne Mendes in 2005; revised by Michael Maune, Betty Nelson, and Mary Alice Nebold in 2012
Materials within the collection.
PURA history: 1976-1990, by John F. Stover. http://www.purdue.edu/retirees/History1976-1990.html, accessed 3 Jan. 2012.