MURAnews Winter 2018

President's Report

As I write this, we have finally had a welcome January thaw after the deep freeze of the last few weeks. The 2018 year started off on a positive note for MURA members with a pension increase. You can read details regarding how the increase is determined in the "January 2018 Pension Plan Increases" article by Brian Beckberger and Cliff Andrews.

Our annual Christmas luncheon held December 5th was a great way to finish off 2017. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and see everyone reconnecting. Over 180 members participated with about 22 new retirees attending. Kudos to Gail Britton and everyone on the Christmas Lunch committee on their efforts to make this MURA event a success. Thanks also to the President’s Office for subsidizing some of the cost of the luncheon, and welcoming new retirees by fully covering the cost of their lunches.

You can read about MURA’s new web site. We are indebted to the efforts of Nora Gaskin and members of the Communications Committee for the many, many hours they contributed to the design and content of the new web site. Let us know what your impression or experience is once you have tried it.

The next large MURA gathering will be the Annual General Membership Meeting and Luncheon on June 6th. The AGM will include election of the MURA president, vice-president and four council members. In addition to the executive, you have nine elected representatives on the MURA Council, with each Councillor elected for a three-year term. The terms are staggered so that vacancies are filled every June. Council manages the affairs and projects of the retirees’ association; acts as the official voice of the retirees of the University; and sets MURA’s budget. See more of what we do on our Council Activities web page. In addition to attending Council meetings once a month from September to June, Council members sit on one or more MURA committees. You can find out more on our Council Members web page. If you would like to get involved or know someone who would be a good candidate for Council (or perhaps as a member of a committee), please see the Call for Nominations. All nominations are welcome. MURA especially welcomes individuals who have recently retired.

More details will be announced in the Spring newsletter. Mark the AGM in your calendars now and plan to attend.

Until the spring, best wishes for 2018.

Heather Grigg, MURA President

See more pictures of the Christmas lunch at

Your Money/Your Health

January 2018 Pension Plan Increases

On December 21, 2017 MURA notified members (those who have provided MURA with an email address) of a 1.46% increase in pensions starting January 2018. This increase applies to both the Salaried Pension Plan and the Hourly Pension Plan.

The full increase of 1.46% applies to those who were receiving a pension from either of the Plans on June 30, 2016, and is equivalent to the average monthly increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for 2016/17. Those who retired between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 received a pro-rated increase. Those who retired after June 30, 2017 received no increase. There is no supplementary increase this year since the previous three years’ increases were the maximum allowed under the provisions of the Plans.

The annual pension increases, if any, are based on the amount that the 5-year average rate of return on the pension funds, as of the previous June 30th, exceeds 4.5% for the Salaried Plan and 6.0% for the Hourly Plan. Any increase, however, is limited to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year. The 5-year average rate of return as of June 30, 2017 was 10.07% for the Salaried Plan, and 9.92% for the Hourly Plan. The Consumer Price Index increase for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 was 1.46%. Since CPI is the limiting factor, both salaried and hourly retirees received a 1.46% increase.

Additional pension plan information can be found on the Human Resources Pension Plans web page.

Cliff Andrews, MURA Representative,
Hourly Pension Plan Retirement Committee
Brian Beckberger, MURA Representative,
Salaried Pension Trust Committee

Exercise Programs Can Help Reduce Falls and Prevent Injuries

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

Many people can relate to the fear of falling. Injuries that occur as a result of slips and falls are common and the consequences can be severe. Preventing these injuries is important in helping older adults experience a high quality of life, including independent living, engaging in healthy activities and enjoying social and recreational pursuits. One promising preventative measure involves exercise programs targeted to seniors.

What the research tells us

Fall prevention exercise programs — delivered either in a group setting or at home — can help prevent falls, and injuries resulting from falls, in older adults living independently. These programs often include several types of beneficial exercises (such as strength and resistance training), but exercises focused on improving balance were deemed the most effective in preventing falls.

Exercise at home to improve your balance

There are many exercises that can be done at home to help prevent falls. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Yoga can improve balance and mobility in people who practice regularly. Best of all, you don’t need to be an expert! Yoga poses can be adapted for all ages and abilities. Read more.
  • Wii-based programs are an option for older adults who prefer to exercise at home. Evidence from research studies shows that Wii-based training is comparable to other exercise programs for improving balance in older adults. Read more.
  • Use elastic resistance bands to help strengthen your muscles. They’re inexpensive, portable and can be used for a wide variety of strength training exercises. Read more.

Well-designed exercise programs may be the key to ensuring older adults have the confidence and the ability to live active, healthy lives and pursue their dreams!

Retirees in the McMaster Online Directory

Retirees may choose to be included in the online McMaster Faculty & Staff Directory. Here’s how to add yourself to the directory, or to update your record as needed:
  • Go to the Directory and follow the underlined link in the sentence “To update your directory listing click here”.
  • Log in using your MacID** and password.
  • On the “Faculty and Staff Directory” tab, search to find out if a record already exists for you.
  • Use the “Update Directory Listing” tab to add yourself to the directory or change your record.
NOTE: It is acceptable for retirees to use their personal phone number or email address in this directory. As a personal security measure, do not use your home address as the online directory is available publicly.
  • Fill out the form — mandatory fields are identified by a red asterisk (*).
  • For an Add, the ‘Record ID’ box fills in automatically. Don’t try to change it.
  • For a Change, enter your ‘Record ID’, found on the detail screen of your existing record.
  • For ‘Department’, choose “McMaster University Retirees Association (MURA)” from the drop-down list, leaving ‘Sub Dept.’ blank. Or select your pre-retirement department if you are still actively associated with it. Enter “Retired” or another suitable phrase in the ‘Job "Title’ box.
  • ‘Building’ must be provided. Enter “OC349” if you are off campus.
  • For ‘Extension/Phone Number’ use either your home or mobile phone number, or a McMaster phone extension. This field cannot be left blank.
  • Enter your email address, whether it’s an “” one or from another service provider.
  • For ‘Departmental Coordinator’, if you are using MURA as your department, choose “Terri Jones – Human Resources Services” from the drop-down list. (Terri is an executive assistant in Human Resources Services, which acts as MURA’s Coordinator for the directory.) If you are still actively associated with your pre-retirement department, choose the Coordinator for that department.
  • For ‘Coordinator’s Email’, enter if you have chosen MURA as your department; otherwise enter your active department coordinator’s email address.
  • Click the ‘Submit’ button. You will see a screen confirming the details of your submission, and the system will send an email to your selected Coordinator.
  • Your new or updated directory listing will take effect within 7 – 10 business days.
If you would like to be included in the Online Directory but do not have an email address or access to the internet, please contact Terri Jones by phone at 905-525-9140, extension 23275.

If you need help with using the online form, please contact the UTS Service Desk.

**MacID is an identifier assigned by University Technology Services (UTS). It is not your employee number. Your MacID is the part of your current or former McMaster email address that precedes “”, for example “smithjp”. Retirees are entitled to have a MacID for life. If you do not have a MacID, you may request one by contacting the UTS Service Desk. For more information about MacID see this article from the Summer 2016 MURAnews.

I think people my age are much older than me


Order of Canada Appointments

Three McMaster retirees were recognized by the Governor General of Canada in December as new recipients of the Order of Canada. One of our country’s highest civilian honours, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

May Cohen, professor emerita of family medicine, was appointed an Officer of the Order for her exemplary leadership in the establishment and growth of the field of women’s health in Canada.

Mary Law, professor emerita of rehabilitation sciences, was appointed an Officer of the Order for her transformative work in the field of occupational therapy, which has set the standard for research and shaped clinical practice in Canada.

Valerie Tryon, retired associate professor of music, was appointed a Member of the Order for her internationally celebrated career as a pianist and for her contributions as an educator and builder of classical music culture.

For more information, see "McMaster profs, pianist, grad appointed to Order of Canada", McMaster Daily News.

Call for Nominations

The duly constituted MURA Nominating Committee is now receiving input for the nomination of Council members for the three-year term starting in June 2018, as well as for President and Vice-President for 2018/19.

The Committee comprises: Les King (Chair), Phyllis DeRosa-Koetting, Margaret Jenkins, Kathy McIntosh, and Peter Sutherland.

Please forward expressions of personal interest and/or suggestions for nominees to the Committee Chair, Les King: or 905-648-6636 or to any Nominating Committee member.

Submitted by Nora Gaskin, MURA Secretary

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, by email 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.

Hamilton Third Age Learning

This past November saw the successful completion of the fifth year of operation of the Hamilton Third Age Learning (HTAL) organization. Founded and run by local volunteers, this organization seeks to promote and encourage life-long learning by Hamilton’s older adults. In this respect it is similar to organizations that exist throughout Canada, the United States and many overseas countries.

The origin of the third age learning movement is acknowledged to have been in Toulouse, France in 1973 in the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences. Its subsequent development in Europe and the UK mainly took the form of courses and programs developed in universities or in association with such institutions. The existing International Association of Universities of the Third Age today promotes and represents these types of programs around the world. This U3A movement was the basis for a broader model of ‘self-help’ teaching and learning that emerged in the UK in the early 1980’s. Local community groups organized and managed by local citizens, and relying upon outside experts to lead and inform the learning, became the preferred model, especially in North America. Today, in Ontario alone there are more than 20 such organizations, associated with one another in the Third Age Network.

The Hamilton group was organized by a small band of local citizens. It was incorporated in 2012 and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. HTAL began operating with a series of six weekly lectures in the spring of 2013, with six more offered later in the year. This has become its operating program, twelve weekly lectures a year with six in the spring and six in the fall. Organized by a small program committee, the lectures address an overall theme of “Understanding the 21st Century” and cover a wide range of topics in the arts, business, humanities, science and health sciences, and politics. A number of faculty members from McMaster, including the President and a President Emeritus, have lectured in the program.

Information on their past series, and on the upcoming one beginning in April 2018, is posted on their website. Most of the lectures given over the past two years can be found on their YouTube channel.

Registration for each series of six lectures is done online through their website. The 220 seats available at their venue, the McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Avenue, are usually taken up quickly. If seats are available on the day of a lecture they can be purchased at the door.

Requests to be added to their contact list can be sent via the “Comments and Requests” tab on the website.

Les King and Carolyn Rosenthal

Visiting Library Services

Did you know that Hamilton and Halton residents can take advantage of Visiting Library Services, which are free for those who are unable to get to the library on their own due to health or mobility limitations? For more information:

Burlington web site

phone: 905-639-3611 ext. 1304

Hamilton web site

phone: 905-546-3200 ext. 3222

Welcome New Retirees

Susan Birnie, Education Services
Michael Boyle, Psychiatry
Theresa Cooke, Financial Services
Sriyani Dissanayake, DeGroote School of Business
David Feeny, Economics
Bonny Jung, School of Rehabilitation Science
Deborah Maddock, Health Evidence and Impact
Marlene Mastragostino, Library
Dave McFarland, Facility Services
Paul Morin, Housing and Conference Services

David Noble, Security Services

Thanks to all of our generous donors, the contributions to the MURA Endowed Scholarship and Prize Fund totaled $80,905 as of January 9, 2018.

We need only $4,095 to reach the $85,000 goal that will enable MURA to increase the values of the annual awards to students studying gerontology. $85,000 will increase the full-time student scholarship from $2,000 to $2,500, and the part-time student prize from $550 to $750.

Please give generously.

Donate at the McMaster University Retirees Association Endowed Scholarship and Prize Fund web page, or contact Meggie MacDougall at or 905-525-9140, ext. 24667.

Recent Passings

Larry Belbeck, Pathology & Molecular Medicine, Oct. 17/17
James B. (Jay) Forrest, Anesthesia, July 27/17
Rose Grillo, Housing and Conference Services, Sept. 18/17
Heather Halabourda, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, Oct. 5/17
Ida Kopac, School of Nursing , Dec. 18/17
Barbara Krick, Central Animal Facility, Nov. 20/17
Marie Lipinski, Library, Oct. 30/17
Stanley Mak, Biology, Dec. 18/17
Johannis (Hans) Mol, Religious Studies, Nov. 26/17
James Michael (Patrick) Murphy, Hospitality Services, July 25/15
Jan Roossien, Facility Services, Oct. 14/17
Veronica Toth, Facility Services, Nov. 19/17
Marjorie Westoby, Office of the Registrar, Jan. 8/18
Diane Williams, Chemistry, Sept. 16/17
Warren Mousley, Financial Services, Oct. 25/17

CURAC Report

(College and University Retiree Associations of Canada)

What is CURAC?

CURAC is a not-for-profit federation of retiree organizations at colleges and universities across Canada. CURAC's objectives are:

  • Volunteer Opportunities

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

    Health TAPESTRY Program. Health TAPESTRY helps people stay healthier for longer in the places where they live. This community-based program connects trained volunteers, professional health care teams, technology and community engagement. The Canadian Red Cross is recruiting volunteers in partnership with McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine. Contact Nelson Ruiz Blanco at or call 905-522-8485, ext. 5221266.

    Exam Hospitality 2018 @ McMaster. Volunteers are being welcomed to help out for exam drop-in this April. We are looking for individuals who would like to spend time with students dropping in for a coffee break from studying. The shifts are from either 5:30-7:15 pm or 7:15-9:00 pm. We host from April 11th until April 26th not including Saturdays. We also welcome cookie donations (store bought or homemade, but not peanut butter cookies please). Contact Rebecca Pike at or call 905-525-9140, ext. 24207 if interested.

    Wesley Centre Newcomer Services. Wesley Urban Ministries believes many Mac retirees will be a great fit as volunteers for their program that assists newcomers to Canada. Volunteers are needed to be English Conversation Partners, Friends of Newcomers and Travel Companions of Newcomers, as well as other opportunities available depending a volunteer’s interest. Contact Dorar Abuzaid at or call 905-528- 5629, ext. 228.

    Bay Area Science & Engineering Fair. BASEF is an annual exhibition and competition showcasing projects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students in grades 7 to 12 from Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk and Six Nations display their innovations and discoveries throughout the fair. Mac retirees from all backgrounds are encouraged to help make this event a success by volunteering at the fair in various capacities.

    General Volunteers — Help with set-up, registration, supervising student activities, and welcoming and guiding participants and visitors. To sign up, please email

    Volunteer Judges — Judging day is Thursday, March 22. To become a judge, please email

  • 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.

McMaster is Ontario’s First Smoke-Free Campus

Beginning January 1, 2018, McMaster University became Ontario’s first 100% tobacco and smoke free campus.

The use of tobacco and all oral smoking devices is prohibited on the Hamilton campus, inside and on the grounds of the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington, and at all McMaster-owned properties.

By designating the campus tobacco and smoke free the University is creating an environment promoting health and wellness that ensures students, faculty, staff and visitors are not exposed to tobacco and smoking products, including second-hand smoke.

Since the September announcement of the new designation, students, staff and faculty worked together to get ready for the change.

“The community has been highly involved in the preparations,” said Sean Van Koughnett, dean of students and the co-chair of the University’s Smoke-Free implementation committee. “Smoking cessation sessions are underway for students and staff, and there’s been orientation for peer groups and health educators and an opportunity to provide input and feedback on the implementation of the new policy. ”During the first year of the new designation, there will be an informal enforcement that will emphasize an education and awareness approach. Information materials listing smoking cessation supports and other resources will be distributed and shared with those found smoking on campus.

Tobacco and smoke free environments are effective at motivating people towards quitting. When the draft policy was posted and comments were invited, several individuals and groups provided feedback on the implementation plan.

The implementation committee used the feedback to add to already planned communications and training. The University’s student and employee accommodations policies are in place for any member of the community who has been prescribed cannabis for medical purposes and seeks accommodation.

A tobacco and smoke free campus supports McMaster’s commitment as a signatory to the Okanagan Charter, which commits the University to pursuing a healthy and sustainable campus.

More information is available at "Tobacco and Smoke Free Campus", McMaster Daily News.

McMaster Joins Network of ‘Age-Friendly’ Universities

McMaster University has joined the international Age-Friendly University (AFU) network, a global body of higher education institutions that are committed to being more accessible to older adults. The AFU network was launched in 2012 by Dublin City University (DCU) in Ireland to help address the challenges and opportunities associated with the world’s aging population. It builds on the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Communities Initiative.

The guiding principles of an age-friendly university include:

  • encouraging older adults’ participation in the core activities of the university
  • promoting late life personal and career development and supporting the pursuit of second careers
  • recognizing the educational needs of older adults
  • promoting intergenerational learning
  • widening access to online educational opportunities for older adults
  • ensuring that research reflects aging society’s needs, and promoting public discussion on how higher education can respond to older adults’ interests and needs
  • increasing students’ understanding of the health, social and economic benefits that result from slower aging and how aging influences society
  • enhancing older adults’ access to university health and wellness programs and its arts and cultural activities
  • engaging with the university’s retired community
  • having regular dialogue with organizations that represent the interests of the aging population

[Excerpted from "McMaster joins global network of ‘age-friendly’ universities", McMaster Daily News.]

McMaster Community of Distinction Inductees

Retirees Brian Haynes, MD, PhD, a founder of evidence-based medicine and a world leader in health informatics, and Geoff Norman, PhD, a world-renowned expert and researcher on problem-based learning in medical education, have been inducted into the McMaster Health Sciences’ Community of Distinction.

Read the full article, "Three 'giants' welcomed to Community of Distinction" at the FHS web site.


The Peter George Centre for Living and Learning

  • McMaster’s new student residence, classroom and activity building
  • Where: on Michell Crescent adjacent to the Ron Joyce Stadium, in the heart of the campusPeter George Centre - Architectural Rendering
  • When: Expected to open in 2019
  • Size: 12 storeys, 359,000 square feet
  • Features:
  • 500-bed student residence
  • teaching space
  • student meeting and activity space
  • student Wellness Centre
  • Student Accessibility Services
  • the McMaster Children Centre
  • Funding: The estimated $120-million project is being financed by the University

Architectural Rendering

Arthur Bourns Building - Addition and Renovations

Arthur Bourns Building - Architectural Rendering

  • New and refurbished laboratories
  • Where: adjacent to Thode Library on the west edge of the main campus
  • When: Expected to open in 2018
  • Size: New addition 5 storeys, 45,000 square feet; renovations 32,000 square feet
  • Features:
    • additional teaching and research laboratories
    • repair and retrofit of existing laboratories
  • Funding: New addition estimated $17-million; renovations estimated $16-million; funded by the federal and provincial governments, and the University 

Architectural Rendering

These beautiful note cards were produced to celebrate MURA’s 25th anniversary in 2010.

Stephanie Lisak, a McMaster retiree, very generously gave us permission to reproduce one of her original watercolour paintings, Fall Colours at Mac. The image depicts a particularly lovely view of the oldest part of campus. Pat Vinton, a photographer with Media Services at the University, donated her expertise to produce a very high-quality digital image. We are grateful to both for their support. The cards were printed at McMaster on 80 lb. textured paper, which gives the effect of an original watercolour painting. The 9" x 4" card is blank inside and can be used for special occasions, for saying thank you and for other short notes. It could even be framed.

Cards are available at $1.50 each. All proceeds go toward MURA’s Special Projects Fund.

The cards are for sale at the MURA Christmas lunch and Annual General Meeting. They are also available by mail in packages of five or ten cards. To order cards by mail, please send your name, address and phone number to or leave a message at 905-525-9140 ext 23171. We will let you know, based on your address and the number of cards requested, what the total cost including postage will be.

MURA Has a New Website

MURA’s new website is up and running! Powered by Wild Apricot, a Toronto-based web-hosting and membership management company, the new website will be easy for you to navigate and search for the information you want. It will also be simpler for MURA to manage and keep up to date. The site is accessible via desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.

The site features a wealth of information, including current and past issues of MURAnews; updates on pensions and benefits; information about on- and off-campus member perks and special offers; upcoming events, both MURA and non-MURA; volunteer opportunities, and much more.

We thank our outgoing Webmaster, Marianne Van Der Wel, who managed MURA’s previous website, for 10 years of creative and dedicated work. The new site was designed by the web subgroup of the MURA Communications Committee, with MURA Secretary Nora Gaskin as Webmaster.

We invite you to visit the site regularly to keep up to date on activities and issues that concern our membership, and welcome your comments and feedback.


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 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