UC Blue Logo
What are you looking for?

UC retirees embrace an active lifestyle and service in retirement, survey finds

Share This Article

After their UC careers, many retirees put their talents and time to good use, volunteering countless hours and giving generously to their campuses and communities. They have embraced active lifestyles with pursuits that include teaching, writing, consulting, wellness activities, starting new jobs and business, and more.

That’s the snapshot of nearly 5,000 retirees from a new survey report, UC Retirees: Generous Talents, Enduring Community

In their second systemwide survey of retirees, the Council of University of California Retiree Associations (CUCRA) reached out to about 22,000 retired staff and non-Senate academics to learn more about their activities and interests over the last four years. CUCRA is a consortium of 13 organizations representing retirees from nine campuses, three national laboratories and the UC Office of the President.

“Despite 2020 being the unusual year that it was, it appears that retirees continued to thrive, remain active and, in many cases, were more active than respondents in 2016,” said Susan Abeles, vice chair and chair-elect of CUCRA. Abeles retired from UCLA in 2010 as associate vice chancellor-corporate financial services/controller.

Staying active

A majority of respondents reported having an active lifestyle, including staying physically fit, traveling (pre-pandemic), gardening, spending time outdoors and in nature and enjoying the performing arts. 

Professional engagement also remained high, with more than 42% reporting that they provided professional services on a pay or pro bono basis. “I continue to teach math and statistics for the college program at San Quentin State Prison, under the auspices of the Prison University Project. (All instructors are volunteers.),” wrote a retiree.

Survey respondents also branched out into new paid professional pursuits over the last few years, and over 20% of respondents had written books or articles.

Giving back

Perhaps due in part to the upheaval caused by pandemic, more than half of the respondents had served as caregivers – bringing both joy and struggle. One retiree commented, “I found myself simultaneously providing child care for a new grandchild and managing medical appointments and care for my mother who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and consequently passed away. There is no way to fully prepare oneself for the pressure this can put on an individual.”

Respondents shared a commitment to volunteer work, with an astonishing 70% reporting some kind of volunteer activity. “My husband and I started a nonprofit building schools in Burma (Myanmar),” wrote a survey respondent. “We will have built 67 schools by the end of 2020.”

Demonstrating the enduring connection many retirees feel to their home campuses, 25% of respondents said they have volunteered for UC, serving as volunteer mentors, teachers, advisers, fundraisers and participants in many campus programs and activities. 

UC retirees are not only generous with their time and talents. Thousands of retirees have also donated more than $60 million to UC campuses over the past four fiscal years, according to data provided by retiree associations, retirement centers and development offices. 

“The financial contributions retirees have made to their former campuses, coupled with the extent to which retirees volunteer at UC, are all indications of the degree to which these retirees feel a continued connection to UC and support the mission of the university,” Abeles said.

Read all of the details, including a breakdown of campus-by-campus participation in the survey, at cucra.org/survey.

Keep Reading