Skip to main content

Retired Faculty Conversations

In 2021, the Retired Faculty Association began offering an opportunity for retirees to participate in a four-session series of faculty conversations via Zoom. The four sessions concluded with a potluck dinner for current and previous group participants at the home of one of the moderators. The idea for the Conversations project responded to a perceived need by faculty from different parts of the university to get to know each other and to talk about a range of issues raised by retirement practices at UNC and personal experiences. The topics for discussion are based on a longer eight-week Retired Faculty Program (1.5 hours per week) offered by the Institute for Arts and Humanities in cooperation with the RFA. We have had seminar participants who have decided to continue in the program by taking the additional Conversations series.The IAH Retired Faculty Program is typically offered in the Fall semester and Conversations in the spring. Participants have come in from Chapel Hill and beyond. Those interested in participating in future Conversations may contact one of the moderators, Joanne Gard Marshall (School of Information and Library Science, or Robert (Bob) Peet (Department of Biology,


Retired Faculty Program (Institute for Arts and Humanities)

Preparation for retirement is particularly challenging for members of the academic community who have spent many years in a position of research, teaching and leadership in the university and larger community. Preserving and advancing the knowledge gathered during an academic career in the post-retirement lifetime requires not only a thoughtful examination of personal retirement issues, but also consideration of how this knowledge might continue to inform a larger public of students outside the university community. This seminar is a project of the UNC Retired Faculty Association and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Both organizations are committed to the vitality and well-being of the UNC faculty.

The Retired Faculty Program provides a unique opportunity for faculty from across departments to reflect on what they want out of retirement. Recognizing retirement as a life-shaping event, the purpose of this seminar is to contribute to the process of deliberation of faculty members as they enter retirement and active old age as a new stage of life. Over eight weekly sessions, a group of eight retirees meets with a defined agenda, assigned readings, homework activities, and discussions led by two retired faculty co-facilitators. In short, the seminar is designed to provide the space and time to begin to create a life you love in retirement. Current co-facilitators are professors emeriti Lynne Vernon-Feagans (Education, and William Andrews (English and Comparative Literature,

For further information, see the IAH Retired Faculty Program website or contact Silas Webb, Administrative Support Specialist (919-843-2651,


High School Ethics Bowl Judging

UNC’s Parr Center for Ethics invites community members to serve as judges for its award-winning National High School Ethics Bowl program. The NHSEB is an educational outreach program designed to get thousands of students nationwide thinking, talking, and working together on tough moral and political issues. The program’s collaborative, yet competitive format (unlike speech and debate) is based on the idea of a conversational dialogue. The goal is to work together toward something true or reasonable rather than to subdue the opposing argument with superior rhetoric. Students are evaluated based on the clarity and quality of their reasoning, as well as the ways they engage with each other’s ideas: ideally, honestly, respectfully, and productively.

NHSEB’s HQ at the Parr Center hosts two major events, bringing hundreds of high school students to the UNC Chapel Hill campus each year: the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl (typically in January) and the NHSEB National Championship (typically in April). For more information about the NHSEB program, or to volunteer, please contact


Carolina Center for Public Service

The Carolina Center for Public Service invites retired Carolina faculty to join them in their work of connecting the energy and expertise of both the University and the community to provide students, faculty and staff with deep and transformative experiences and working to create collaborative and interdisciplinary solutions to local and global challenges.

Retired faculty support this work by reviewing applications and nominations for scholarships, awards and fellowships, offering their expertise in guest lectures for service-learning courses or community engagement programs and offering non-academic skills trainings that help equip students with the capacity to become more effective in their service work.

Contact if you are interested in getting involved with the Center in any of these ways. Or sign up for the Public Service News here in order to stay updated on their programs as well as opportunities promoted by community partner organizations.


Graduate student mentoring

Carolina graduate students aspire to various career paths, and many express interest in pursuing careers in academics. Both the Graduate School and the other schools/ departments offer training to prepare students for academic careers, and current graduate faculty are also a source of advice for students as they prepare for faculty jobs. However, some graduate students would benefit from one-on-one mentoring from experienced faculty members. With this in mind, The Graduate School proposes a graduate student mentoring partnership with The Retired Faculty Association.

The RFA would provide The Graduate School with names, disciplines and contact information of members who are interested in mentoring. The Graduate School would match retired faculty members with one (or more) graduate students in their or a closely related discipline. Retired faculty members’ contact information would be shared with the graduate students, and they would be encouraged to reach out to their mentors. Each mentor-mentee pair would determine the exact nature of the relationship (some pairs might interact solely over email, while others might meet in person). The frequency of interaction would also be at their discretion. Either the mentor or mentee could pull out if the relationship was not satisfying or other commitments precluded continuing the relationship.

The Graduate School hopes you will be interested in this opportunity.  If so, please contact


Habitat For Humanity

The Orange County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is trying to expand its stable of “Regular Volunteers” who work with others in building new affordable-homeownership units. Several current Regulars are retired UNC-CH faculty members, and they are hoping to recruit others. No construction training is needed: the paid staff train the new volunteers. Habitat for Humanity provides affordable homeownership to families who might not otherwise have the opportunity to have a home of their own.

Habitat relies on volunteers in order to keep the cost of housing low. Volunteering is flexible and fun, and no prior construction experience is necessary. Volunteer opportunities are available every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to noon or 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. To signup online, go to If you have questions, contact Ansel Prichard, Volunteer Engagement Manager, at or 919-932-7077 ext. 220; or professors emeriti Bill Rohe ( or Jim Yankaskis (


Ackland Art Museum Docents

The Ackland Art Museum, UNC’s local art museum with a global outlook, is seeking RFA members to join the Ackland and to become docents for the museum. Member events allow you to meet new and longstanding friends of the museum who share your commitment to arts in our community. To become an Ackland member, visit  Docents participate in specialized training that equips them to lead lively and interactive tours for K-12 school groups and community groups. Training sessions focus on both art and effective teaching strategies for our diverse audiences.

To become a docent, contact Jenny Marvel at


UNC Partnership in Aging

     PIAP Intern Gatherings

 The Partnerships in Aging Program hires 7 or so interns each year. Interns work with community organizations to help “move a few needles” in the most critical aging issues, e.g. affordable housing, aging in place, loneliness, and caregiving, to name a few.   Interns hail from many disciplines across campus: for instance City and Regional Planning, Nursing, Anthropology, Social Work, and Public Health.   Periodically throughout the semester, interns come together for a meal to share their projects, ask questions of one another, and consider their own aging experiences.

 RFA members would be welcome to attend our intern gatherings to share their own aging stories, learn what younger people are thinking about, and engage interns in reflecting on their experiences as related to aging. If interested, contact Cherie Rosemond (Director, UNC Partnership on Aging) at

     FEAST: Folks of Every Age Sharing a Table

FEAST is an intergenerational dinner party with a theme! UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program (PIAP) is creating an intentional space where people of different generations can learn from one another and cultivate age-embracing perspectives based on universal themes such as celebration, comfort, grief, or generosity.  Dinner party guests include UNC students from different disciplines, faculty, older adult volunteers, and community leaders in aging. FEAST believes in the power of intergenerational connections and the joyful wisdom that comes from sharing a table.

FEAST is currently on hold due to COVID-19, but would welcome participation by retired faculty members when it reopens. RFA members could be invited to attend a FEAST or, on a more ongoing basis, to help coordinate the hospitality (set the table!) and logistics. If interested, contact Cherie Rosemond (Director, UNC Partnership on Aging) at


Tips for Retired Faculty on Volunteer Opportunities

Don Stedman, Past President

When you retire, and if you have you probably know this, everyone thinks you have nothing to do now so you should be happy to work for them – and for free.  After all, “Retirees are the backbone of the volunteer industry.” And, they think you should be available on the spur of the moment for whatever needs doing.

True enough, now that you have retired, you do have more time to do what you want to do; even if, once in a while, it’s nothing. At least your time may be more flexible than it was with whatever you did before.

Maybe you didn’t retire on purpose. Maybe you would rather not be retired at all. In any event, you are someone marked as an available hand, for free, to do whatever. Well, you probably should volunteer anyway. It’s a good thing for you to do and people do need help, especially community non-profits with needs to fill and few resources to hire people to meet the needs. However, when you are asked to volunteer and you do consider it, it is very important for all concerned that you maintain control of what you volunteer to do, when you do it, and how long you keep it up. Let me explain.

Many people in the community with volunteer needs haven’t carefully planned what they really need from volunteers or how to describe to potential volunteers what they need and want. You can help the asking group and you can help yourself if you keep several guidelines and cautions in mind before you accept an invitation to volunteer.

Here are some GUIDELINES. Be able to answer “Yes” to all these questions or don’t take the job.

Is it clear what the organization asking for your help wants you, as a volunteer, to do?

Is the activity well planned?

Is it a need, an activity or goal that you personally support and admire?

Do you have the interest and the ability to do the tasks required of volunteers?

Do you have the amount and schedule of time to commit? Will you show up, stay for the duration and be reliable?

Can you be a good follower and not try to take over? (Unless asked.)

And, here are some Special Cautions:

The gig should not be open ended. Get and give time commitments.

Your work should mean something – i.e. somebody really needs the product of your efforts.

Don’t volunteer just because a friend is putting the bite on you. Sometimes urgent needs infringe on good friendships.

The Research Triangle region is full of non-profits, service agencies, schools, causes, and advocacy groups. In today’s economy, fund raising is especially tough.  So support for staff workers is at an all time low.  Volunteers are needed now more than ever and the pool of retirees is expanding.

Volunteering should be part of your new “work plan”.  I strongly encourage it. It’s healthier for you to be busy and feel needed. It’s good to be part of a team. Your “encore” period of development should help you grow, not age. It should add to your feelings of productivity and worth. Volunteering is a good thing, but plan it like you plan the rest of your life.

All of this is probably intuitive. But, I have found that if you don’t approach volunteering in a clear and planful way, you probably won’t turn out to be of much help to anybody, including yourself.