In 2006, when Margaret Phillips was named the first Vice President for Human Resources, she asked her team of directors to help her develop a list of Human Resources initiatives. On that list of 16 initiatives was a proposal from Toni Christian, the Director of Benefits Administration, to develop and present a retirement planning conference. Both the Vice President and the Director of Benefits knew that nearly 36% of WVU employees would be retirement eligible by 2015 and would need help making good retirement decisions.
In October 2007, the first Retirement Planning Conference was presented. The planning conference was designed to offer WVU employees the knowledge, skills, and guidance needed to plan their individual retirement pathway. The conference was a success and, in their feedback, employees asked for a way to stay in touch with the University and with each other in retirement.
Based on that request from employees, the Vice President asked for a study of retirement organizations and a recommendation on what West Virginia University might do. As a result, in January 2012, a recommendation was given to the Vice President that a retirement organization be established for West Virginia University retirees. The proposal recommended that the organization be open to all retirees to include both faculty and staff. That proposal was accepted.
In September 2013, retirees from the previous five years were surveyed about their interest in joining a retirement organization and their interest in becoming members of a steering committee. From those responses, nine retirees were invited to be members of the steering committee to form a West Virginia University retirement organization.
To reflect the decision to be an all-inclusive organization, the steering committee consisted of three faculty members: Art Jacknowitz, Carolyn Nelson, and Tom Witt; three non-classified staff members: Bobbie Brandt, Doug Maatman, and Gary McPherson; and three classified staff members: Lana Cantoni, Shirley Daft, and John Patteson. Elaine Sholtis, the author of the proposal, was asked to chair the committee and Mary Thomas, a Public Relations Specialist in the Human Resources Benefits unit, was asked to be the Human Resources liaison to the committee.
The committee had their first meeting on March 13, 2014. They set to work shaping the organization. They developed the bylaws, created the website, and crafted an interest survey to get feedback from retirees. They started the drive for charter members and organized the launch event. They took on the role of the Board of Directors until those officers could be elected and they organized events to keep the organization vital and interesting.