Photo courtesy of Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.
The Wisdom Institute is a unique opportunity for retired faculty and staff from UMBC to remain involved with campus life and connected with their former co-workers.
The launch was held on April 13 in the Event Center’s Retriever Room. There were over 100 attendees at the launch, including President Freeman Hrabowski, former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, UMBC’s first Rhodes Scholar Naomi Mburu, UMBC’s Director of Athletics Tim Hall and the head coach of UMBC’s men’s basketball team, Ryan Odom.
Leslie Morgan, one of the founders, explained, “There has always been opportunities to engage faculty to help the university: mentor graduate students, teach classes, advising, but there hasn’t been a lot that the university offers back to people who have given … to the university.” The formation of this group hopes to ameliorate that problem.
The Wisdom Institute framework details many opportunities, both social and professional, in which members can become involved. Such opportunities range from attending UMBC theater events together to organizing community service events for members and students.
The idea for the institute blossomed six years ago in 2012 when Morgan and colleague Craig Saper proposed its formation to President Hrabowski and Provost Rous. With their support in funding further research, focus groups and background research provided the necessary information to actualize the idea.
Morgan and Saper’s original proposal was limited to emeritus staff. However, the official proposal was written by former Dean of Undergraduate Education Diane Lee to include all of UMBC’s retired staff and faculty. The proposal was recently adopted by the Advisory Board, legitimizing the organization.
The proposal dictates the primary goal of the organization: “To promote a strong and enduring retiree and campus connection benefiting both retirees and UMBC, the Wisdom Institute (hereinafter called ‘Institute’) will focus on mutually beneficial ways to connect persons and the university.”
“One of the wonderful things about UMBC and this Institute is that it really comes out of the sense of being family and a community,” commented Lee.
Lee went further to accredit over fifty faculty and staff members of the university for their support of the Institution and for making its formation and launch a possibility.
Unlike other universities with similar groups, UMBC is the only campus to include all retired staff and faculty interested in joining. Participation in the group is completely voluntary, so long as the person meets the sole requirement of being a retired staff or faculty member of UMBC.
Lee stressed the inclusive nature of the organization and one of its primary goals in reaching as many interested persons as possible. To do so, the Advisory Board compiled a list of retirees with their email addresses to extend an invitation, although the list is not yet complete. Currently, there are twelve official members serving on the Advisory Board.
The next opportunity for institute members is scheduled for June 7, where attendees will go to the observatory in the Physics building on campus. The reception will be held at 6:15 p.m. and the visit to the observatory will begin at 7:30. Lee and other Advisory Board members encourage all retired UMBC staff and faculty to attend the event for a night of socialization and fun.