MURAnews Spring 2019

President's Corner

In spite of the sporadic warm days we’ve had so far, the daffodils and tulips are coming along and the grass is starting to green up — evidence that the season of renewal is upon us — including the upcoming MURA Annual General Meeting on June 5th.

A key feature of the AGM is the election of MURA Council and Executive including President and Vice President positions — a “renewal” of your MURA Council. You can read the Nominating Committee Report with the proposed slate of officers below. As always we are appreciative of the work of this Committee and thankful for the members willing to participate in the work of the Association on members’ behalf.

The AGM begins with a luncheon which will be followed by our guest speaker Stephen Heathorn, Chair of the History Department, who will give a very timely presentation on “The Unbearable Lightness of Brexit”. Details are given below.

Further in this newsletter you can read about significant changes and events around campus, where you can get involved (HR Website Review, volunteering), and where you can benefit (Optimal Aging Portal). There is also a profile on MURA’s most recent Scholarship winner.

MURAnews is produced four times a year by a small group of volunteers. Phyllis DeRosa Koetting, who has done an excellent job as production editor over the past several years, is relinquishing those duties to others after this issue. Many thanks, Phyllis, for ensuring members have a great publication packed with information.

A reminder that CURAC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada) is being hosted by the University of Guelph’s Retirees Association this year. The conference runs from May 22 - 24, 2019. Retiree association members from across the country gather to share ideas and information and also to participate in a series of educational sessions geared to retirement life. This year’s sessions will have a focus on health. More information can be found at:

Heather Grigg, MURA President

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Time: 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm

Place: Celebration Hall

RSVP is required by May 24, 2019 to establish numbers for the lunch. Contact Beth Csordas at or phone 905-681-2075.

If you have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit and require reserved accessible parking, please let Beth know.

See below for details and plan to attend.

AGM Meeting & Luncheon

Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Time: 12:00 noon - 3:00 PM

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

RSVP is required by May 24, 2019 to establish numbers for the lunch. Contact Beth Csordas at, 905-681-2075. Let Beth know if you have an Ontario Accessible parking permit and require reserved accessible parking, or if you have a dietary restriction.

See the below for Parking Information.

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

Special Presentation to the AGM — The unbearable lightness of Brexit

The guest speaker will be Dr. Stephen Heathorn, Professor and Chair, Department of History. Stephen is a cultural historian of modern Britain and its empire.

In June 2016 a slim majority of British voters decided they wanted their country out of the European Union. At the time the leaders of the “Leave” campaign claimed this would be a straightforward process that would lead to Britain “taking back control” of their sovereignty. But in the three years since, the British government has struggled to make Brexit happen. Why? What has caused the sense of near-perpetual crisis in government over leaving, especially in the past nine months? This talk will attempt to explain why Brexit has proved so difficult to accomplish and why the referendum three years ago set in train a massive disruption in British politics and culture.

Business Meeting: Including reports of Officers and Council Elections. The report from the Nominating Committee appears below.

Complimentary Parking for the AGM

MURA thanks Parking Services for their generous support

Retirees who do not have a McMaster parking permit and transponder will have access to Parking Lots B, C and D close to the Student Centre, and to the underground Stadium lot. Come on campus via the Sterling Street entrance.

Park in any of these lots showing “Visitors - Open”. Take an entry ticket from the machine at the lot entrance and exchange it for a complimentary Rebate Voucher at the luncheon registration table. Your Rebate Voucher will be used at the exit gate to “pay” for your parking when you leave your parking lot.

If none of these lots show “Visitors - Open”, use the Help button at a lot entrance that indicates “Full to Visitors” to gain access or be directed to an available lot.

Retirees with valid transponders may park in any lot that shows “Transponders – Open”. During May to August, retiree parking permits allow access to Lots B, C, D, H, I, K, M, N, P and the Underground Stadium at all times.


For the mobility impaired: If you have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit and require reserved accessible parking, please be sure to tell Beth 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.

2019 Nominating Committee Report

MURA Council 2019/2020

Honorary President*: Alvin Lee


Past President (ex officio): Heather Grigg

President (Nominated): Helen Barton (one-year term, to 2020)

Vice President (Nominated): Mary Law (one-year term, to 2020)

Treasurer:* Beth Csordas

Secretary:* Nora Gaskin


Nominated for office until 2022: Mary Gauld, Henry Jacek, Debbie Weisensee

Continuing in office until 2021: Cliff Andrews, Nora Gaskin, Mahendra Joshi, Kathy Overhol

Continuing in office until 2020: Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, John Horsman

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), Helen Ayre, Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, John Horsman, and Betty Ann Levy

Welcome New Retirees

Lydia den Bleker, University Library

Grace Ferracuti, Faculty of Engineering

Heather Patterson, Medicine

Deborah Urbanowicz, Medicine

and a belated welcome to

Barbara Tatalovic, School of Nursing

Recent Passings

Richard Allen, History, Mar. 5/19

Lina Biancucci-Martinello, Facility Services, Jan. 11/19

James Brasch, English, Feb. 9/19

Jules Carbotte, Physics & Astronomy, Apr. 5/19

Viorika Carina, Facility Services, Dec. 8/18

John Carruthers, Athletics & Recreation, Feb. 19/19

(Pat) Dumayne, Physical Plant, Mar. 10/19

Karl Freeman, Biochemical & Biomedical Science, Mar. 25/19

Doris Jensen, Biology, Mar. 11/19

Pilar Martinez, Modern Languages & Linguistics, Mar. 10/19

Stanley (Stan) Semeniuk, Financial Services, Mar. 26/19

Michael Wheeler, School of Social Work, Jan. 25/19

Contacting MURA

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

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

Your Money/Your Health

Mac Photo ID Card for Retirees

All retirees are eligible for a free McMaster photo identification access card that identifies them as McMaster retirees.

Photo identification cards have replaced the old blue employee cards, which are no longer valid. Retirees are encouraged to replace their old blue ID cards with new retiree Photo ID cards that enable the following services:

  • Photo ID
  • Borrowing books from the Library
  • Use of the athletic facilities such as the Pulse (Gym)
  • Access Control (controlled access to various buildings, labs, stairwells)
  • Entry into controlled-access staff lounges on campus*
  • Meal Plan (Activated in Commons Building, Room 128)

During the pandemic, Photo ID cards are issued by appointment only. Please contact Axiomrep for further information.

Please bring the following documents with you:

  • Your old blue card (if you have one)
  • Your employee number
  • One piece of government issued photo ID (e.g. health card, driver’s licence)

Additional information is available on the McMaster Security Services web page at:

* If your existing retiree photo ID card does not work for accessing staff lounges, send an email request to including the name on your card and the five-digit number below the black strip printed on the back of your card.

New HR Webpage Design -- Retiree Input Needed

The Human Resources (HR) department is redesigning its website. Retirees are urged to review the “sneak peek” redesign by May 15 and provide suggestions for improvement. This will help ensure that the new website is user friendly, easy to navigate, and has all the information retirees need.

Attend a retiree focus group on campus Friday, May 10 at 10:30 a.m. Email Christine Costa at to join. Christine will confirm and provide the location.

Give your feedback online. The “sneak peek” website has a link to an online survey form.

HR’s goal is to go live with the new website in early June.

Optimal Aging Portal Logo

How diet, exercise and medication play a role in your heart health

The following is an excerpt from an article featured on the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal – To read more evidence-based tips and information on over 75+ topics, visit and read our latest content at

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 17.5 million lives per year. People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and those with diabetes or who smoke, are at greater risk for heart disease. The good news is there are many things you can do to control the risk factors that lead to heart disease, including: increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake. Exercise is not only a key to prevention, it has been shown to benefit people who already have heart conditions. A healthy diet that limits sodium, incorporates healthy fats, and incorporates vegetables, fruit, fish and whole grains can also help promote heart health. Lifestyle factors like exercise and diet play a large role in our overall heart health, but did you know that things like the medications we take can also increase our risk of heart attack?

Read through the latest materials below to learn more about how to improve your heart health:


Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Quit Smoking

Review your medications with your doctor

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 condition. Visit their website for more evidence-based information to support healthy aging.

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.

Thoughts from President Patrick Deane

Patrick Deane, President of McMaster since 2010, is leaving to become Principal of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario as of July 1, 2019. Patrick was asked a series of questions by MURAnews. The following are the questions and his replies.

How has McMaster changed in the 9 years you have been its President?

This is a very difficult question to answer because the university is a complex and multifaceted place and always engaged in the process of change. Furthermore, some far-reaching changes are circumstantial — derived from a shift in Government policy, say — while others are intentional.

Thinking only about the latter, I would point to Community Engagement as an area in which we have seen a dramatic change. Members of the McMaster family always participated in and contributed to life in our city and region, but since 2011 Community Engagement has been a cornerstone of the University’s overall strategy. This has meant moving the broader community from its historic place on the margins of the academy towards the centre of our mission. Innovations flowing from that shift, such as community-engaged learning and community-engaged research, have had a reinvigorating effect on the two core activities which define the university. The assumption which, by deliberate intention, underpins all community engagement at McMaster — mutual respect and benefit — has given rise to changes in pedagogy, opened new avenues and approaches in research, and found an echo in the McMaster Model for Global Engagement.

If all of that suggests a growing coherence in our work as an institution, the conscious pursuit of very focused goals, and an overall harmonization of effort, then this is what I would identify as the most significant change at McMaster over the last nine years.

What groundwork has been accomplished during your tenure at Mac that you see leading to initiatives and changes on the near horizon?

In the McMaster Model for Global Engagement we now have a very secure and principled foundation for our future internationalization efforts. Ten years ago we had excellent international connections at the level of the individual researcher, and a number of associations at the institution level. But we had neither a strategy for internationalization, nor any deliberate sense of how McMaster wished to position itself in the global context. We also had not even begun the conversation about what internationalization should look like in areas other than student recruitment — in curriculum, course and degree structure, strategic research collaborations and partnerships, for example. Now because of the progress we have made in those discussions, and because of new initiatives at the provincial and federal government levels, we are effectively integrated into academic planning and activity across the university.

At least five years before it became the preoccupation of governments seeking to address the “skills shortage” in Ontario and Canada, McMaster actively undertook the deepening and expanding of opportunities for experiential education, or work integrated learning, as it is now called. The recent federal budget included funding for Canadian students travelling abroad — which will address the internationalization issue discussed above — as well as significant investments in internships and other opportunities for learning in the workplace. McMaster is thus extremely well situated to take advantage of new government programs in this area. Our culture of cooperation with industry, the new orientation towards international engagement, and the progress we have made in community-engaged learning: all of these position us very well to ensure that increasing numbers of our students will be able to engage in learning and development outside the conventional classroom.

I also see even greater potential for the University’s research enterprise following the launch of the Strategic Plan for Research in 2018. The Brighter World brand platform, which since May 2017 has been positioning McMaster to a global audience as an outstanding institution for research, learning and teaching, is now being deliberately focused on research, with the goal of attracting and developing partnerships and funding opportunities, and increasing research revenue into the university from a variety of sources. Although the formal launch of the Brighter World Research Initiative will not happen during my tenure, I have no doubt that it will provide a major boost and enhancement to McMaster’s researchers and research programs, and I look forward to hearing about all that it achieves for the institution.

Are there ways that retirees helped you in fulfilling what you set out to accomplish when you arrived at Mac 9 years ago?

Retirees have been helpful in numerous ways, but especially in their willingness to support informally — and in whatever manner their past service to the institution has prepared them to contribute — an ambitious vision for McMaster. The vision of Forward With Integrity to some extent ran counter to the current thinking of governments, and it was certainly ambitious in an era of budget cuts and the instrumentalizing of learning. Given that the drift of education has been increasingly away from the individual and towards “massification,” it has been hugely valuable to have retirees volunteer to provide mentoring to students, to chair defences, and more generally to put back into the university those personal touches which otherwise risked being eroded. When outsiders ask about the secret of McMaster’s extraordinary success and increase in standing over the last few years, I point them to our volunteers, our retirees, and our donors.

It has certainly been an enormous honour to serve McMaster as its President, and I’m immensely grateful to the university’s retirees for their unflagging support of the institution and their willingness to provide practical support whenever possible. My sincere thanks to you all.

Introducing David Farrar

After the announcement that Patrick Deane had resigned as McMaster’s President to return to Queen’s University, Dr. David Farrar was named Acting President, effective July 1, 2019.

Dr. Farrar joined McMaster on November 1, 2017 as Provost and Vice-President (Academic).

Dr. Farrar received his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Toronto, and his doctorate from the University of Western Ontario. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and a Chemistry professor at the University of Toronto for 26 years. He has authored or co-authored over 80 technical papers, holds five patents, and has supervised more than 25 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Farrar held several roles in university senior administration before coming to McMaster. While in Toronto, he served as Deputy-Provost and Vice-Provost, Students with responsibility for all central enrolment, student affairs and student service activities. From 2007 to 2015, he served as the Provost and Vice-President Academic at the University of British Columbia (UBC). During university presidential transition at UBC from 2015 to 2016, he served first as Advisor to the Interim President and then as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC.

In January 2018, the McMaster Alumni Association asked Dr. Farrar several questions about his impressions of McMaster and the local environs. You can check out his answers here.

Annual Parking Permit 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.

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.

Volunteer Opportunities

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

McMaster Convocation Assistants

May Convocations:

  • Nursing Convocation: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 (12:30 - 5:00 pm)
  • Health Sciences Convocation: Thursday, May 23, 2019 (12:30 - 5 pm)

June Convocations (all other Faculties)

  • June 10 to 14, 2019 (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 (full or half day options), 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 can be found here: or by calling Rachel.

Able Sail Seeks Volunteers, Youth Employees and New Clients

WANT TO SAIL THIS SUMMER? What better way to spend the summer than near or on the water in beautiful LaSalle Park, putting smiles on the faces of sailors who live with a range of disabilities.

Burlington Able Sail provides sailing and sail training opportunities to people living with a wide variety of disabilities, in an accessible environment using safe, purpose-built equipment and boats. Volunteers are needed to work with paid staff, usually for a four-hour period between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, from late June to August. Depending on preferences and abilities, volunteers work with paid staff to welcome clients, coordinate dock activities, help transfers from wheelchairs into boats, act as companion sailors, and drive or observe on coach/safety boats. No experience is necessary. Training will be provided.

If interested, please contact David Groves at or 905-520-3847 (voice or text).

Able Sail is also looking for two additional youth employees (grandchildren, etc), preferably with sailing or boating experience, 15 years and older, and for additional clients — individuals living with disabilities — who are interested in getting out on the water.

Ronald McDonald Family Room

The Ronald McDonald Family Room, located in McMaster Hospital, is a comfortable, quiet space for families to rest and rejuvenate while their children are being cared for in the hospital. Families visit the room to relax, enjoy a snack or refreshment, watch TV or a movie, play games or with toys, use the computer, and do laundry.

The Family Room program is expanding by opening a new Ronald McDonald Family Room in McMaster Hospital this Spring. New volunteers are needed to help ensure our programs are successful.

Volunteers provide an atmosphere of warmth and compassion to all families. Volunteers assist in the day-to-day operation of the Family Room by providing comfort and support to the families and children who visit the room. Volunteers greet and assist families, make coffee and snacks and assist families with laundry, maintain tidiness and cleanliness, and supervise programs with children and families (e.g. craft programs, games, movie night).

Please contact Shelley Harrison, Manager of Volunteer Services, at or 905-521-9983 ext.2110 for more details about how you can become involved. Information about the Ronald McDonald Family Room can be found at

New Construction Project on Campus

John Horsman

McMaster Divinity College Expansion

McMaster University started life in Toronto when Senator William McMaster bequeathed a $900,000 endowment in the early 1880s for the incorporation, through a merger of the Toronto Baptist College and Woodstock College, of McMaster University. It was controlled by the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec through its early history in Toronto and after its move to Hamilton in 1930. In 1957 McMaster became a privately chartered, publicly funded, non-denominational institution but that historic Baptist connection continued and today is embodied through the independent, but closely affiliated, McMaster Divinity College (MDC).

Now, for the first time since 1959, there is a major construction-renovation project to enlarge the College for the accommodation and comfort of its faculty, staff and students. Official ground breaking was in October 2018 although plans and preparations began in earnest much earlier and fundraising for the multi-million dollar project was well and truly underway when the Board gave its blessing to the expansion in 2017.

Today, the physical proof of that expansion is much in evidence. The fencing, the digging, the construction is all highlighted on a week-by-week update on the website.

In the summer of 2018 there was a mass move of faculty and staff from the 2nd floor to temporary lodgings in the Chapel or to home offices. Nine weeks later came the official groundbreaking ceremony showcasing the shovel used at the groundbreaking of the original building in 1959. In December last year, the annual Christmas banquet was held for the final time in Hurlburt Hall. The new Great Hall will be finished in time for the 2019 banquet. In February it was reported that the project was on budget. Now isn’t that a miracle and a half in today’s world! Progress has not been without problems however. The brutal February weather delayed the roofers but just this past week the MDC has, for the first time ever, control over its own heating and cooling system.

Soon, the nearly 300 men and women from almost 40 denominations will have their new home in which to become “the next generation of Christian leaders, pastors, and educators”, in a “building suitable for our position as the leading evangelical seminary in Canada.” [citations from website]

Join Mac Alumni and Friends for a Night at the Opera

Tickets are available by calling the box-office at 905-525-7664 or visiting Tickets for this special offering to Mac Alumni and Friends are $25 each. Please note there is a limit of 4 tickets per purchase. Use the promo code MIMI when ordering.

Thursday, July 4, 2019, 7:30pm
FirstOntario Concert Hall

Greatest hits — arias, duets and ensembles from the world of grand and comic opera by composers such as Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Mascagni, Gounod, Bernstein, and Thomas, brilliantly performed by the cast of our opera production of Puccini's La Bohème.

La Bohème
Thursday, July 18, 2019, 7:30pm
FirstOntario Concert Hall

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” — Puccini’s tragic love story, La Bohème, set in Hamilton in the 1930s. One of the opera world’s most iconic works is performed by a superb cast of Canada’s newest operatic stars. An evening of love, loss and music!

2018 MURA Scholarship Recipient

Kaitlyn Jagger

I am a fourth-year student currently completing my Honours BA in Health & Society and Aging & Society, with a minor in Indigenous Studies. Outside of school, I enjoy volunteering with older adults, particularly in long-term care, as well as with Hamilton’s homeless and economically marginalized population. Through volunteer and work experience, I realized that I am passionate about the health and well-being of Canadian seniors, which led me to pursue a degree that would attend to the needs of this group.

Throughout the past four years at McMaster, I have learned a great deal in my program that has inspired me to remain within this field of study and apply for my Master of Arts in Health and Aging at McMaster. Upon completing my studies, I hope to find a job with the government of Canada or Ontario to work towards improving how certain health and well-being issues of Canada’s senior population are approached by our current systems.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the McMaster University Retirees Association for your financial support and the warm welcome I received at the Christmas Luncheon. Your generosity made an incredible difference in funding my final year of my undergraduate degree and I am extremely grateful for your assistance.

Join the Mohawk Retirees Trip to Shaw Festival Theatre

The Retirees Association of Mohawk College (RAMC) invites Mac retirees, spouses and partners to join them on a trip to the Shaw Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

Cost is $125 for members and spouses of RAMC and its partner associations such as MURA. Non-member price is $130. Fee includes show performance, lunch, transportation, and all gratuities. All tickets are orchestra gold level.


10:15 a.m. Board the coach at Dave Andreychuk Arena, 25 Hester St. Hamilton (please park near apartments).

11:30 a.m. Arrive at Betty’s Restaurant.

1:00 p.m. Our coach takes us to Shaw Festival Theatre.

2:00 p.m. Show begins.

5:30 p.m. Approximate return time.

This event is organized by Nancy Fleming (905-648-1960, and hosted by Geoff Brooker.

Please reserve: _____ seats @ $125.00 each for members, partners and friends TOTAL: $_________

Name(s): (please print) _____________________________________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ________________________________________ Email: __________________________________________

Please enclose full payment @ $125 for members and spouses of Mohawk Retirees and its partner associations ($130 for non-members). Make your cheque payable to Retirees Association of Mohawk College and mail to:

Nancy Fleming, 639 Iroquois Ave., Ancaster ON L9G 3B5

Call 905-648-1960 if you have questions, or email

Please date cheques no later than August 1, 2019.

MURAnews is produced by MURA members Helen Barton (News Editor), Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting (Production Editor), Denise Anderson, Marju Drynan, John Horsman, 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, ext. 23171) and we will print a copy and mail it to you.

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