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Faculty association gives community to retired faculty

UNC’s Retired Faculty Association offers up answers to former university professors who are retired but still looking to stay professionally active. UNC's RFA aims to offer a chance for professors to extend their impact on the University.

“It’s been this way for us to help retired faculty maintain meaningful ties with the University,” said Donald Boulton, a former vice chancellor and dean of student affairs. “You keep on doing and writing and meeting and talking, and so this is a vehicle that we’ve set up to continue with the University if you so wish.”

Continuing ties with UNC means more for the RFA than just networking. Boulton said RFA, founded in 1986, currently has around 140 members. Not just an ornamental organization, the RFA has a vote on UNC’s faculty council. The RFA’s offices are housed in UNC’s Friday Center. 

Robert Bruce, director of the Friday Center, said that the center effectively serves as the University’s outreach center in terms of making the University accessible to nontraditional students. Bruce said the vast experience of retired UNC faculty is an invaluable resource not just for the Friday Center, but the broader Chapel Hill community. 

“This area specifically is growing so much in terms of the number of people who are retiring here," Bruce said. "We are one of the hot spots in the country. So think of what a group like this can bring not only to all the people moving to this area, but really to the entire community regardless of age.

“These faculty may be retired officially — unofficially they are not.”

RFA members offer courses at the Friday Center, both for credit and not for credit. Retired faculty may also teach select courses at the University if their specialty’s gap has yet to be filled. The RFA takes part in other programs, such as one where members serve as ambassadors between Chapel Hill and the families of incoming international students. The program is designed to ease the family’s transition into an American lifestyle.

“Retired faculty would sign up as mentors and would be paired up with one or two international scholars with minimal expectations,” said Patricia Pukkila, RFA president-elect. “Many people coming here have never been inside an American home. I mean, that’s not good, that’s not Southern hospitality when you come down to it, right?”

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