By Rachel Anderson
Cedarville University hosts a monthly retiree luncheon, Reconnect, for retired faculty and staff on the first Tuesday of every month. The most recent luncheon was held on Nov. 1, 2022 in the Stevens Student Center event rooms with around 65 retired staff in attendance.
The event rooms were decorated with fall and Thanksgiving decor as the staff reconnected with coworkers and friends over soup and sandwiches. For some retired staff, this is one of the only events that brings them back to campus.
These monthly gatherings have been taking place since Fall of 2021 when retired professor Michael DiCuirci reached out to Cedarville regarding a lack of events for retired staff. DiCuirci taught at Cedarville for 37 years filling a variety of different positions, including Senior Professor of Music and Department Chair of Music and Worship. He was the band director, led worship in chapel for over 30 years and was in charge of the Music Education department.
“I was cutting the grass one day, a couple years ago, and I thought, ‘Cedarville needs to do more for retirees,’” DiCuirci said. “And so I composed a letter to Dr. White and he liked the idea. He ran it by the administrative council, and he said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
One of the staff members that helped to found the luncheons with DiCirci was Roscoe Smith, the Director of Gift Planning. He saw it as an opportunity to “fill a need in people’s lives” and provide an opportunity to allow for the continuation of relationships that were built over several decades at Cedarville.
“We do this because we want to honor the investment that the retirees made through their skill and their work,” Smith said. “But secondarily, we are wanting to maintain relationships with the folks who have been donors for in most cases decades.”
The other two Cedarville staff members involved in the start of Reconnect were Associate Vice President for Human Resources, John Davis, and Director of Strategic Relations, Jeff Beste. As a Cedarville graduate, and one of DiCuirci’s band students, Beste was eager to be a part of the luncheon.
“These are my heroes because these were my faculty and my staff,” Beste said. “When they retired, I lost touch with them, so to have them coming in once a month has just been so much fun.”
The first luncheon had about 35 people in attendance, according to DiCuirci, and it quickly grew to 88 retirees by October 2022. According to Davis, the event has grown primarily by word of mouth. He said that many of the individuals in attendance “live in a little bit of isolation,” so they enjoy being able to come back to campus and connect with old friends.
While this serves as a way to allow retirees to return to campus, some of the retired staff and faculty stay connected even after retirement.
Retired Professor of Communications Dr. James Phipps is just one example of a staff member that has stayed connected to Cedarville even after retiring last year. He graduated from Cedarville, taught at Cedarville for 52 years, and was the Chair of the Communications Department for 36 of those years.
“I used to broadcast basketball, so I still show up for a lot of sporting events,” Phipps said. “And my son is the director of theater over here, and I get called in every once in a while for miscellaneous stuff”
Other retired staff members continue to teach a few classes at Cedarville or serve in a variety of different capacities part time, such as Sandra Etner. Etner graduated from Cedarville in 1959 and taught for 25 years, primarily as the Director of the Counseling Department. She continues to be a part of campus by being active with the Alumni Association as well as performing the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory for a few classes.
“This luncheon is incredible,” Etner said. “And I know that this group really appreciates this and that we’re really grateful for them.”
Rachel Anderson is a sophomore AYA English education major. She enjoys running, reading, and traveling in her free time.