The Year in Review
LIFE@UCF: 25 Years in the Making
The highlight of LIFE@UCF’s year was the anniversary celebration hosted for LIFE members in February 2016, commemorating 25 years of lifelong learning in partnership with the University of Central Florida. The morning-long festivities began with a complimentary breakfast for LIFE members in the Pegasus Ballroom, the regular meeting venue. Also invited were university dignitaries: UCF President and Mrs. Hitt, key administrators, including deans and program directors and favorite faculty presenters through the years.
An outstanding keynote speaker, Dr. Roger Landry, M.D., MPH and author of Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging, kept his audience mesmerized throughout his presentation. No less interesting and informative was the well-known Growing Bolder national radio team of Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer, who participated in a panel discussion immediately following the keynote address.
The occasion of LIFE’s 25th was also an opportunity to honor one of the Founders of the Learning Institute for Elders, Dr. Richard Tucker, still an active participant and UCF Liaison for the organization. He was instrumental in securing funding which covered the costs of the celebration.
Past Presidents of LIFE@UCF were honored with a place of honor on the stage during the event and presented with a past president’s pin in recognition of their service to the organization. Judy Thames, Immediate Past President, handled the arrangements.
A video presentation entitled “That’s Life” captured important moments in LIFE’s history and was produced by Dr. Lisa Mills from UCF Film & Digital Media, a fitting close to the happy occasion. LIFE members left with a commemorative cup and anniversary booklet, along with a new appreciation for the richness LIFE brings to their lives.
Charged with making this historical event go off without a hitch was Carol Parker, our Special Events Coordinator. Music was provided by LIFE members George Sumrall, our very own piano man, and Mr. Sax himself, Jack Winquist. Alice Reinhardt, also a LIFE member, produced the commemorative booklet given to each LIFE member.
MEMBERSHIP: A Growing Demand
2015-2016 also marked the first year new and returning LIFE members were registered using an automated system, thanks to the efforts of the Membership Committee—Lucy Pulido, Chris and Bill Myers, Tim and Allison Matthews, and Treasurer Pat Fluno. LIFE membership reached 587 with 220 on the waiting list. Average attendance was 338 over the course of two semesters.
That waiting list, necessitated by space limitations when the Pegasus Ballroom is not available, prompted LIFE to look for possible solutions to the problem. A Technical Committee composed of Tim Matthews, Jack McGuire, Ray Jones and Steve Hall began looking at what alternatives might be out there. Testing feasibility of live-streaming in collaboration with UCF Performing Arts was successfully done in the fall. A survey exploring alternatives was distributed among members in the spring re: meeting days, location, etc. Results have been tallied and further discussion will ensue as the waiting list keeps growing exponentially, now totaling over 450 and requiring a 2-3 year wait. (Attachment A)
Another “first” was the establishment of a Shuttle Service to provide transport from the UCF parking garages to the Student Union and back for LIFE members who find the walk difficult. Ron Tarpley from Parking Services assisted in setting up the service.
CURRICULUM: Major Focus
Lifelong Learning is LIFE’s reason for being and so the quality of the weekly programs remains of primary importance to the success of the organization. As in year’s past, great attention was paid to the variety and scope of programming. (Attachment B)
GRANTS & AWARDS: Giving Back
The Grants & Awards Program, under the leadership of VP Ray Jones, continued to fulfill its financial commitment as a UCF partner by providing seed money for deserving UCF faculty researchers. This year $30,000 was designated for “directed and competitive grants” and $21,000 was allotted to the Tucker Applied Research Award, along with $1500 to the Al Dallago Grant for graduate student
research. (See below) LIFE@UCF has contributed nearly $600,000 to UCF since the Year 2000 when the grants program was initiated. (Attachment C)
Taking a New Look” was the title given to the comprehensive review of our grants and awards program under the chairmanship of Claudia Schippert, LIFE Academic Liaison. She was assisted by LIFE board members Ray Jones and Judy Thames. Also assisting was Dick Tucker, UCF Liaison. A set of revised policies and upgraded reporting procedures were recommended and adopted. (Attachment D)
STUDENT SUPPORT: A Helping Hand
In addition to providing faculty support, LIFE continued its support of Knights Helping Knights Pantry, which provides food and sundry items to needy students. LIFE presented a check for $500 again this fall to the Pantry. In addition, a Food Drive was conducted in September to help restock the shelves. Last year, under the direction of Lynn Trivett, LIFE members set a record donation of over 1,000 lbs. of canned goods and assorted food items. Five scholarships were awarded to student employees in Parking Services and Student Union student employees were given gift cards and bagel/pizza parties at the end of each semester in appreciation for all they do for LIFE members. A relationship that is growing and expanding is our partnership with Legacy Leadership & Mentoring Program, which is housed in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The program supports the retention and graduation of ethnic minority students and LIFE offers financial and mentoring support to these students. Ian King led this effort and arranged for LIFE representation at the Diversity Breakfast held in October.
In addition, Legacy and LIFE partnered to provide mentoring for young boys enrolled in the “My Brother’s Keeper” program sponsored by the City of Orlando. A number of LIFE members shared their knowledge and experience on how to succeed with these aspiring youths. Tim Maxwell organized these sessions.
Another very successful program whereby LIFE members have the opportunity to interact with UCF students is the Honors Program. Limited to 14 LIFE members and 14 students enrolled in the Burnett Honors College, the program engages in joint activities during the Spring Semester each year. Cliff Reback insured that the collaborative effort went smoothly. Field trips included: Mad Cow Theatre, Hindu Temple, UCF Art Gallery, Polasek Museum, Book Discussion and Etiquette Dinner.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH/FIELD TRIPS: Around and About
Three School of Medicine Tours were conducted during the Spring Semester to a very interested group of LIFE members. The Medical School also initiated a summer program offered onsite presentations on a bi-weekly basis on various medical/health issues. Ian King chaired this committee and made all the arrangements for the tours/classes.
Tim Matthews arranged a field trip to the ITSMEC Conference held at the Orlando Convention Center. All the latest in simulation technology was on display. Very impressive.
Our highly engaged LIFE members also participated in other campus and community events. Many took advantage of the UCF Day at Dr. Phillips held in April, a week of cultural offerings provided free to all. Three LIFE members—Vonnie Bradbury and Al and Alice Reinhardt—participated in the university opera production, “The Elixir of Love,” at the invitation of the Opera Director Thomas Potter. Dick Tucker represented LIFE at the Center of Positive Aging Planning Conference, which LIFE partially funded. Marty Wiener coordinated the Vets Oral History Project whereby LIFE members were encouraged to record their stories.
STRATEGIC PLAN: Moving Forward
LIFE’s Strategic Plan was approved, the result of the previous year’s efforts by the Board of Directors to identify goals and establish priorities. Basil Pflumm headed up the project under Past President Judy Thames’ directive. An implementation plan was put forward and a reporting schedule established to insure the plan will be a living document. (Attachment E)
COMMUNICATION: Getting the Word Out
Several communication vehicles serve the needs of the LIFE membership.
The monthly newsletter produced by Jim Burr, Editor, and his able assistant, Amanda Mayer, received an official name this year, LIFE TIMES, and offers human interest stories on LIFE members, announcements, program scheduling, etc. The website, under the guidance of Webmaster Ray Jones, offers a central place to gather important information, view photos, and access news and announcements. E-Blasts on the Internet have become a weekly means of notifying members of upcoming programs and events. Bill Myers and Tim Matthews, along with Lucy Pulido, have responsibility for sending out these messages with the President’s approval. They were the ones charged with converting this message system from Google to Mail Chimp, which turned out to be a major challenge.
10- and 20-YEAR MEMBERS: Longevity and Loyalty
As the year drew to a close, LIFE honored its 10- and 20-year members with a special ceremony on the last day of class. Each was presented with a certificate, a LIFE pin and an honorary membership in the UCF Alumni Association. Our only 25-year member, Dick Tucker, read the names of the honored members.
25 Years: Dick Tucker
20 Years: Margit Haan, Eliane Norman and Elizabeth Parsons
10 Years: Marilyn Abbott, Patricia Brizel, Linda Fessel, Patricia Fluno, Gladys Gallo, Stephen Hall, Ronald Hofer, Mary Kelsh, Harold Kersteen, Dick Likon, George McGuire, Frank Moletteire, Jean Moletteire, Lucia Pulido, Fabiola Sepulveda, Joan Washburn, and Nancy Winter
SUMMER CLASSES: Lifelong Learning All Year Long
And, for the first time ever, LIFE@UCF offered an array of summer classes during the months of May, June and July. Organized by Dick Tucker and Paulette Geller, six programs were presented at a different time, in a different place and for an extended class session. An evaluation will be done at summer’s end to determine the members’ response to these added class offerings.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Next 25 Years
LIFE@UCF has enjoyed considerable success over the last 25 years. It has maintained its emphasis on excellent programming and has offered a variety of interesting topics to its members on a weekly basis. Evidence of the quality is reflected in a waiting list that nearly equals current membership totals. But, can we rest on our laurels? I don’t think so.
The world moves so fast now; things change so quickly. Life spans continue to push the boundaries, creating a growing market for programs and services for an aging population. At the same time, baby boomers are retiring at an astonishing rate and, true to their nature, they are shaking things up and changing the face of aging. Rocking chairs (or golf) don’t interest them. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They want to be actively involved in stuff that matters.
LIFE@UCF has an opportunity to respond to their ideas of “creative aging” and provide an outlet for their “youthful” approach to this phenomenon, to their enthusiasm for trying new things and mastering new skills. We need to be responsive to the challenges this represents.
What does that mean? First of all, I think it means we continue to do what we do so well—provide a lifelong learning program that is of the highest quality, securing topnotch speakers who provide a wide variety of interesting, pertinent topics. We have been offering an increasing number of field trips to our members; we need to do more: more field trips, book clubs, travel opportunities, greater participation in cutting edge research and more opportunities to be involved in such meaningful outreach—mentoring programs, the Honors connection, alliances with Medical City re: healthy aging.
But, to expand programming and broaden LIFE’s reach is probably going to require moving from essentially an all-volunteer program to one with an Executive Director and a support staff. This would undoubtedly be gradual, beginning with part-time paid staff. We’ve taken some initial steps on developing an effective fundraising model to establish an endowment fund or even an endowed chair. We need to move that forward. Dream big. Set a long-term goal of securing our own building for LIFE classes, workshops, events, etc. on campus.
At the present time, LIFE@UCF is the best deal in town. Based on a $150 annual membership fee, LIFE members are offered 29 Tuesday sessions of two classes for a total of 58 programs per year. That figures out to be $2.58 per class! In addition, LIFE members receive reduced parking passes and discounted tickets to other university events—theater, spots, etc. It makes for bragging rights, but it doesn’t support growth and exciting new goals. If we hope to continue to grow and meet the expectations of future LIFE members, that will need to change.
Vonnie Bradbury, President LIFE@UCF