MURAnews Spring 2018

President's Report

By the time you receive this MURAnews spring will surely have truly arrived, which means MURA’s Annual General Meeting is on the horizon. Mark your calendars now for noon on June 6th. Lunch will be served, followed by a presentation by Jennifer Heisz and a short business meeting. Jennifer will speak about her research program that examines the interplay between brain and body fitness in the promotion of health.

An important component of the AGM is the election of MURA’s President, Vice President and councillors. Many thanks to the Nominating Committee for their work in preparing the slate of candidates. The Nominating Committee was chaired by Les King and included Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, Margaret Jenkins, Kathy McIntosh, and Peter Sutherland. See links for more details on the AGM and Jennifer’s talk and the Nominating Committee Report.

Also in this issue is information about the upcoming CURAC/ARUCC Annual Conference from May 23-25, 2018 in Halifax. McMaster retirees are welcome to attend.

CURAC sponsors several awards each year — both at the individual and association level. This year MURA nominated Marianne Van der Wel for a CURAC Tribute Award in honour of her dedicated service to both the McMaster University Retirees Association and CURAC since 1994. The CURAC Awards committee agreed! Marianne will be presented with her award at the conference in May. You can read more about Marianne’s award and the CURAC conference here.

Looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming AGM.

Heather Grigg, MURA President

I finally realized it....People are prisoners of their phones; that’s why they are called Cell Phones.

Notice of Annual General Membership

Meeting & Luncheon

Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Time: 12:00 noon - 3:00 PM

Place: Celebration Hall (Basement of Kenneth Taylor Hall), McMaster University

RSVP is required by May 25, 2018 to establish numbers for the lunch. Contact Gail Britton at or 905 627-4539. See below for parking information.


A light sandwich luncheon will be served while you socialize with friends.

Special Presentation to the AGM — Physically Fit, Mentally Flexible: The Benefits of Exercise for Brain Health

Jennifer HeiszThe guest speaker will be Dr. Jennifer Heisz, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Associate Director (Seniors), Physical Activity Centre of Excellence.

The brain undergoes structural changes with aging, and these changes can decrease cognitive function. However, the brain also is able to functionally reorganize to compensate for some of this structural loss. There are interesting individual differences in the success of this compensation: when comparing individuals of similar age, those who exercise are less affected by the typical age-related decline in cognitive function. New research reveals the reasons why physical activity in older adults improves cognitive function. In the face of age-related structural decline, the neural flexibility that is enhanced through physical activity may help older adults maintain cognitive health longer.

Business Meeting

Including reports of Officers and Council Elections

Need a ride?

If you live in the Hamilton area and would like to attend but don't have transportation, we'll pick you up and take you home.

Need help getting to Celebration Hall from the bus stop? Contact Gail or Helen with your request by Friday, June 1.

Gail Britton 905 627-4539,

Helen Barton 905-518-5339,

Complimentary Parking for the AGM

MURA thanks Parking Services for their generous support.

Retirees who do not have a McMaster parking permit and transponder: Parking Services is providing parking for the AGM in lot C, close to the Student Centre, and in the underground Stadium lot. Come on campus via the Sterling Street entrance. Park in either of these lots showing “Visitors - Open”. Take an entry ticket from the machine at the lot entrance and exchange it for a complimentary “exit ticket” at the registration table. Your exit ticket will be used at the exit gate to “pay” for your parking when you leave your parking lot. If neither of these lots show “Visitors - Open”, use the "help" button at one of the entrances to gain access or be directed to an available lot.

Retirees with valid transponders: You may park in any lot that shows “Transponders - Open” except for Lots A, G and the L.R. Wilson Hall underground lot. Parking Services is providing parking for the AGM in Lot C and the underground Stadium lot, so they may be your best choices.

For the mobility impaired: if you have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit and require reserved accessible parking, please be sure to tell Gail in your RSVP. Reserved parking will be provided in lot C close to the Student Centre. Press the "help" button at the entrance to gain access to the lot. Parking staff will be on duty to assist with accessible parking in lot C. Please have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit on display in your vehicle.

Parking map

2018 Nominating Committee Report

MURA Council 2018/19

Honorary President*: Alvin Lee


Past President (ex officio): Leslie King

President (Nominated): Heather Grigg (One-year term, to 2019)

Vice President (Nominated): Helen Barton (One-year term, to 2019)

Treasurer*: Beth Csordas

Secretary*: Nora Gaskin


Nominated for office until 2021:

Cliff Andrews, Nora Gaskin, Mahendra Joshi, and Kathy Overholt

Continuing in office until 2020:

Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, John Horsman, Shep Siegel

Continuing in office until 2019:

Brian Beckberger, Carolyn Rosenthal

Auditor*: Debbie Weisensee


In accordance with Article 8.01 Section 3 of the MURA Constitution: “Further nominations for the nominated positions will be received by the Secretary of the Association up to seven (7) days prior to the date set for the annual general meeting from nominators who are regular members of the Association together with the verbal or written acceptance of the nominee. Nominations will also be received from regular members at the annual general meeting.”

Nominating Committee:

Les King (Chair), Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, Margaret Jenkins, Kathy McIntosh, and Peter Sutherland

Public Libraries are Great Places for Retirees

John Horsman

Public LibrariesPublic libraries are not just places to borrow books. They are great places for retirees to spend time, socialize, learn new crafts, upgrade skills or just read a good book.

The Hamilton Public Library (HPL) has many programs for seniors, some at the 22 branches throughout the region and others at the Central branch in downtown Hamilton. Programs aimed at seniors include fitness activities (Wii bowling, Sit to be Fit, Chair Yoga) and less physical activities such as lectures and book clubs. Start exploring with the “Adults” and “Older Adults” sections of the HPL quarterly program guide, available online at or at any branch. The Spring 2018 Guide lists a wide range of senior friendly programs including Calligraphy, Chair Yoga, Older Adult Social Club, Healthy Eating, Older Adult Writing Circle, among others. You can also sign up for the HPL eNewsletter at Or contact the HPL by phone at (905) 546-3200.

The HPL also has a “Disability Information Service Program” which provides free, confidential information about issues relating to disability and life in the community. This service is available at the HPL Central branch at 55 York Boulevard every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The Burlington Public Library (BPL) also has a wide variety of programs and activities for adults at its Central and six community branches. Programs include writing, crafts, health & wellness, movie showings and card games, among others. The Spring Guide is available online at Or you can scroll through the day-by-day calendar of events under the ‘Programs’ button to find Adult and Senior programs you might like. The Central branch of the BPL at 2331 New Street (905-639-3611) is open every day.

Your Money/Your Health

A Note to Members of the Hourly Pension Plan

Cliff Andrews, Retired Committee Member and MURA Council Representative

With the first three months of the New Year past and a hint of spring in the air, we are all looking at what lies ahead. Most of us, having worked for forty or fifty years, are relaxing and hopefully enjoying our golden retirement years. I myself will attest to being blessed with reasonably good health, which allows me to continue working in the garden (in our short summers) along with walking our dog and visiting others in a less fortunate state of health; all this while attending the MURA Council meetings as the hourly pension committee member. While I have been with the hourly pension committee since 1986, I hope to turn this over to a younger successor in the foreseeable future.

The committee, which has both hourly staff representatives and University administration members, was formed in 1986 as part of a new hourly contributory pension plan that replaced earlier ones. This pension plan has been through a number of bad stock market lows, with one in the late 80s and another in 2008-2009. In December 2003, however, the plan’s investments were placed in the hands of the investment company Jarislowsky Fraser, who have been able to drastically improve the level of returns on our plan’s investments. The plan now benefits us in a more consistent manner, allowing for annual increases to take place most years.

This year’s 1.46% increase equalled the Consumer Price Index level of inflation. This small increase falls far short of the true cost of living. It is unlikely that any improvement in the plan's formula for determining increases could occur until the plan becomes fully funded. Such changes could result in better increases, particularly now that this defined benefit plan has been closed to new members for the past 10 years, with new employees enrolled in a group RRSP plan. It is most likely, however, that we must be content with the plan as it is.

In the meantime, I look forward to meeting old friends and colleagues at either the MURA A.G.M. or Christmas get together. You will be advised of these events in the seasonal newsletters you receive.

A Reminder for Your End-of-Life Planning

You might be amazed to learn how often Human Resources does not find out about a retiree’s death until months – or even years – after it occurs.

Make things easier for the executor of your will and your family by putting a note with your will and other important papers, instructing that both Human Resources and CIBC Mellon, which administers our pension payments, should be informed of your death as soon as possible. The Human Resources Services Centre can be contacted by phone at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247, or by email at Contact CIBC Mellon Retiree Assistance by phone at 1-800-565-0479, or online via

Without timely notification, your estate will be required to pay back any pension payments received after your death. Also, you should keep a copy of your McMaster life insurance documents with your important papers. The Human Resources Service Centre will be pleased to provide you with a copy if you need it.

Parking Permit Expiry Renewal Reminder

Retiree parking permits are issued on a 12-month basis and must be renewed annually. Renew prior to your expiry date, online at McMaster Parking Services "Retiree Parking" web page, or in person at the Parking Office (E.T. Clarke or Campus Store). Your transponder number is on the back of your transponder (see picture).

Parking Services will send email reminders each month to those who have a permit expiring within the next 30 days. To receive an email reminder, ensure that Parking Services has your current email address on file.

If you have questions or have not made note of your expiry date, please contact McMaster Parking Services by email at or at (905) 525-9140 ext. 24232.

Resilient Aging in Community:

Housing Alternatives

Ellen Ryan

Loneliness and social isolation can lower quality of life, lead to multiple chronic health conditions, and even cause early death.

Across North America, seniors are organizing into mutual support “villages” to care for one another. Seniors are organizing innovative housing projects for interdependent living to optimize autonomy and self-determination and to remain out of assisted-care facilities longer. Seniors are organizing to share their homes, their cars, their vacations AND their talents for the good of their communities.

Five years ago, Hamilton Aging Together, a community-minded group ranging in age from mid-50s to mid-80s, formed to work toward interdependence, mutual support as we age, and advocacy. We are learning to give help and to receive help, to offer hospitality, to consider home-sharing, and to enhance awareness about Aging in Community. We are learning about housing alternatives and advocating for a wider spectrum of housing opportunities for maturing adults.

Many retirees are seeking alternatives to staying in homes that are too big or moving into assisted care. Many cannot afford either of these alternatives. We are seeking ways in which mutual support and neighbourliness can offer autonomy for longer. If we can reduce loneliness and social isolation at the same time, so much the better.

Housing Alternatives have been developing – and each one suggests other innovations.

Home-sharing across generations used to be normal. More formal approaches to home-sharing are occurring now. The Halton Age-Friendly Committee Home Share ToolKit is useful for a senior deciding to share his/her home with a ‘home-sharer’ such as an adult child returning home. The McMaster Symbiosis program is matching seniors with graduate students — inexpensive housing for the student in exchange for companionship and agreed-upon supportive tasks for the owner.

Co-operative Housing, governed by a resident board, is an important option for affordable housing. In the Seniors Cohousing movement in North America, a core group of seniors decides on a location, a design, and principles by which the owners agree to live together. They recruit additional owners (12-36 units seen as ideal), hire an architect and builder, and take the project to completion. From initiation to everyday living, the owners are directing the project. Seniors Cohousing emphasizes interdependence, small private suites and large common areas. Typical priorities include regular communal dining, porches opening toward others, cars hidden away, walkways, greenery, and easy connections to the rest of the town.

Other co-operative housing models include a group of friends buying a property to build a four-unit home with common areas and agreed-upon principles, or a single person renovating a big home into three suites, selling to two other owners, and sharing meals, common spaces, and a part-time housekeeper/cook/driver. A cluster of such homes in a neighbourhood offers a larger community for mutual support — sharing gardening, cooking, transportation, leisure activities, and even caregivers.

Check our website Hamilton Aging in Community for updates on mutual support, housing alternatives, senior services in Hamilton, and other ideas to foster aging with resilience.


Blanchard, J. M. (Ed.) (2013). Aging in Community. Chapel Hill NC: Second Journey. See also

*Blanchard, J. M. (2014). Aging in Community: The Communitarian Alternative to Aging at Home, Alone. Generations, no. 4.

Durrett, C. (2009). The Senior Cohousing Handbook: Community Approach to Independent Living, 2nd ed. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.

Green, L. (2013). The Perfect Home for a Long Life: Choosing the Right Retirement Lifestyle for You. Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers

McCamant, K., & Durrett, C. (2011). Creating Co-housing: Building Sustainable Communities. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Pinker, S. (2014). The Village Effect: How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier. Random House Canada.

ScottHanson, K., & ScottHanson, C. (2004). TheCohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community. Gabiola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Five Diet Changes Supported by Research Evidence

The following is an excerpt from a Blog Post featured on the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal.

For more evidence-based tips and information on nutrition, browse all the blogs on this topic.

It’s no secret that a well-balanced diet is important to our health and well-being, especially as we age. But making better choices about what we eat can be hard since we are constantly being bombarded by new, and often conflicting, information. It’s tempting to give up and give in to your sugar/salt/saturated fat cravings, but it’s a far better idea not to. A nutritious, well-balanced diet is important to health and well-being throughout the lifespan and helps us maintain strength, mobility and a good quality of life as we age.

Take five for better health

It’s never too late to make better food choices. Why not start with just a few changes, such as the five listed below? They’re simple, sensible and proven to help promote healthy aging.

  • Please pass (up) the salt. Reducing your salt intake will help lower your blood pressure, which in turn decreases your risk of heart disease. Read more.
  • Nothing fishy about this advice. Research shows that people with high blood pressure who took fish oil supplements saw a small drop in their blood pressure. Read more.
  • Cut the (saturated) fat. Reducing the saturated fat in our daily diets can lower our risk of heart disease. Read more.
  • Go Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet supports other recommendations by encouraging people to eat more vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Read more.
  • Take care with your choice of tableware. Did you know that the size of the plate, package or portion you are offered can influence how much food you eat and drink? Smaller is better. Read more.

When you’re ready to make some healthy diet tweaks, the suggestions above are a good place to begin and can help get you on the right track without biting off more than you can chew (which is also another good eating tip). You can then incorporate additional nutrition and lifestyle changes as needed to help you achieve your own personal health goals.

Do you value credible health information? McMaster University has developed the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal to give you access to research-based information to help you age well and manage your health conditions. Visit their website for more evidence-based information to support healthy aging.

Welcome New Retirees

Denise Anderson, DeGroote School of Business

Cormie Bailey, Facility Services Ruthanne Cameron, Pathology

Julie Gienuisz, Facility Services

Xinjie Huang, Medicine

Betty McCarthy, School of Nursing

Ellen McDonald, Medicine

Debbie Passa, University Advancement

Barbara Pegg, DeGroote School of Business

Stella Stewart, Education Services

Marilyn Timleck, Pathology

Qilong Yi, Medicine

Recent Passings

Elizabeth Azari, Building Operations, Feb. 11/18

Margaret Black, School of Nursing, Feb. 15/18

Alan Blizzard, Centre for Leadership in Learning, Dec. 28/17

Fred Button, Security Services, Jan. 29/18

John Cekr, Geology, Apr. 4/18

Vladimir Kupec, Materials Science & Engineering, Sept. 2/2017

Roman March, Political Science, Feb. 12/18

Howard Markle, Parking, Jan. 22/18 Michele (Mike) Pontrelli, Physical Plant, Jan. 29/18

Patricia Prokopetz, Physical Plant, Jan. 18/18

Kenneth Stanley, Telecommunications, Oct. 13/17

Grace Elizabeth Theaker, Physical Plant, Jan. 22/18

Richard Tomlinson, Chemistry, Jan. 28/18**

Wai Keung Tso, Civil Engineering, Jan. 6/18

**Richard Tomlinson obituary

CURAC Report

(College and University Retiree Associations of Canada)

The 2018 CURAC/ARUCC Annual Conference is being held in Halifax this year from May 23-25, 2018, hosted by the Dalhousie and St. Mary’s university retiree organizations. McMaster retirees are welcome to attend. Details on the conference can be found on the CURAC web site. There will be a series of informative discussions and presentations on several topics relevant to activities within our local association as well as nationally.

CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Award recognizes an exceptional contribution and/or achievement by a university or college retiree at the local member association level. Marianne Van der Wel will be presented with a CURAC Tribute Award at the CURAC conference in May in honour of her enthusiasm, dedication and long service to the retirees of McMaster University, and for her participation in CURAC.

Marianne van der Wel spent her entire professional career of 30+ years at McMaster University. She has remained active both on and off campus. Joining MURA in 1994 as a new retiree, Marianne has rendered dedicated service to the Association and to CURAC. Over the years, she has served as MURA’s Secretary, newsletter contributor, newsletter editor, and webmaster.

Marianne has been an active CURAC participant, both as a delegate representing MURA at several conferences, and as a contributor for several years to various CURAC activities including the CURAC newsletter.

In her spare time Marianne is working to complete her first book!

From the CURAC Awards Committee: “The decision of the Awards committee is based upon MURA colleagues’ high regard for your tireless service to MURA, the University, and to everyone around you. It was noted by the Awards Committee that, if a difficult task had to be performed for MURA, you stepped in, almost without being asked, and did it well.”

Discovering Down Under:

Land, Lore, Legacy

Join Graham Roebuck, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University and your fellow McMaster retirees and friends in exploring the wonders and paradoxes of "Down Under" as we tour the most arresting and fascinating locations of the vast and still mysterious land of Australia.

"Discovering Down Under: Land, Lore, Legacy" is a three week hosted trip beginning on October 22, 2018 in Sydney followed by visits to Port Douglas, Adelaide and Melbourne where the trip ends on November 11.

Sample Highlights

  • Sydney (5 days): Sydney Opera House, harbour tour, Blue Mountains
  • Port Douglas (5 days): Great Barrier Reef, Daintree World Heritage Rainforest
  • Adelaide (3 nights): Area tours, Kangaroo Island (1 night)
  • Melbourne (6 nights): Great Ocean Drive, Philip Island and Penguin Parade, Yarra Valley

Throughout the trip Dr. Roebuck will lead talks and discussions to help us appreciate the history, culture and literature of this exceptional country.

Cost: $8740.00 CAD per person (based on double occupancy) plus domestic flights at approximately $715.00 CAD. International flights not included.

Detailed information can be found by contacting Elizabeth McCallum at (905) 540-8747, emailing or visiting

Book soon as only four spaces remain.

Volunteer Opportunities

Don’t want to volunteer alone? Sign up with a friend.

McMaster convocation assistants

May Convocations:

  • Nursing Convocation: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 (12:30 - 5:00 pm)
  • Health Sciences Convocation: Thursday, May 24, 2018 (12:30 - 5 pm)

June Convocations (all other Faculties)

  • June 11 to 15, 2018 (7:30 am - 4:00 pm)

The Office of the Registrar welcomes retirees to become involved in the most exciting days of McMaster students’ academic lives — convocations.

Volunteers are needed to assist at convocations, where your role would be to meet, greet and direct students and guests, check tickets and/or distribute hoods, tickets and diplomas to students. You will work alongside a full-time employee who can offer assistance and training.

If you are interested in signing up for any of the days listed above, please fill out the following short survey:

or contact Rachel Huang in the Office of the Registrar,, or by phone at (905) 525-9140, ext. 24386.

More details on convocation ca be found here:

or by calling Rachel.

Student Open Circles

Community Learning and Fun Program — Volunteers Needed for May and June

Volunteers are needed to help in May and June with a major community engagement project which is supported by McMaster student volunteers during the school year. More than 300 McMaster University students volunteer in Hamilton weekly through the Community Volunteer Action program of McMaster’s Student Open Circles.

Many of these students volunteer in the Learning and Fun (LAF) afterschool program which provides one-on-one mentoring and homework assistance to at-risk children in Grades 1 to 8. During May and June, many McMaster students are unable to continue this work. Please help fill this gap so these children continue to receive help until the end of their school year. This program is offered at the Welcome Inn Community Centre in the north end of Hamilton.

If you can help one afternoon a week (3:00 to 5:30) during May and June, please contact or call (905) 525-5824 to find out more. Volunteers can be assured that adequate assistance and supervision will be available.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to help with this vital form of community engagement.

Martin D. Dooley,

Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics

Member, Board of Directors, Student Open Circles

Contacting MURA

Mail: Gilmour Hall B108, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8

Phone: (905) 525-9140, extension 23171 (voicemail is checked once a week)


Let Us Know If We Can Stop Mailing MURAnews to YOU

Please help MURA’s budget by opting out of the postal mailing of MURAnews. Email Helen Barton at or call her at (905) 518-5339.

You can print your own MURAnews from the PDF copy we send by email, just click the link in the email, or visit our web site and read online.


New Home for Bertrand Russell Archives and Research Centre

Submitted by Bruce Frank

Fifty years ago, McMaster acquired the papers and memorabilia of Bertrand Russell, the renowned British philosopher, peace activist and Nobel Prize recipient. The archive contains Russell’s personal library, correspondence and manuscripts, and many other items. This collection is an international research centre for students and scholars of twentieth-century philosophy and intellectual, social and political history.

Photo courtesy of McMaster University

This spring, the Bertrand Russell Archives and Research Centre will move from Mills Memorial Library to a university house at 88 Forsythe Avenue, immediately across from the Sterling Street entrance. The two-storey, 4300 sq. ft. custom-designed space will be fully accessible. The archives will be on the first floor, along with a reading room and display areas that will feature items from the collection such as Russell’s writing desk and armchair. The second storey will house the Research Centre, offices and a conference room.

The official relocation of the collection and the opening will take place when the international Bertrand Russell Society holds its annual meeting at McMaster from June 22 – 24, 2018.

For a more detailed account see the Daily News at and the Library news at

New McMaster BEAM Centre opens on Longwood Road

Submitted by John Horsman

Even if you have not been down Longwood Road by McMaster’s Innovation Park recently, you may have heard of BEAM, the new, $33M joint project by McMaster University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology.

Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (BEAM) is a centre for applied research and development in the life sciences and biotechnology for “novel technologies for cell therapy and point-of-care diagnostics”. Mac BEAM, which opened in March, is directly connected with the on-campus McMaster Immunology Research Centre (MIRC) and the Biointerfaces Institute (BI).

Photo courtesy of

The 20,000 square foot BEAM centre is the newest building at Innovation Park. It is located at the southwest corner of the innovation park off Longwood Road, adjacent to the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC).

The centre is jointly funded by the federal government ($12M), the Ontario Government and the City of Hamilton ($4M each), Fraunhofer ($3.4M) and McMaster University (almost $10M). Fraunhofer has collaborative agreements and research centres in 67 sites world-wide. In North America there are facilities at Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins — and now McMaster.

MURAnews is produced by MURA members Helen Barton (News Editor for this issue), Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting (Production Editor), Bruce Frank, John Horsman, Mary Johnston, Kathy Overholt, Carolyn Rosenthal and Marianne Van der Wel. We welcome submissions from MURA members.

If you do not have access to a computer and would like a copy of any of the items for which we have provided computer links, please leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171) and we will print a copy and mail it to you.

© 2021 McMaster University Retirees Association | Having trouble with this site? Contact our Webmaster.

MURA, McMaster University, Gilmour Hall Room B108, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software