Archive for Sunday, July 16, 2006

Retirees say KU burns bridges by raising fees, leaving them out of the loop

July 16, 2006


They drink coffee and talk about their grandchildren. And more and more these days, members of Kansas University's Endacott Society grumble about the university they gave their lives to, wondering why it can't treat them with a bit more kindness.

"As I heard someone say: 'If you're retired, you might as well be dead to the university,'" said Arno Knapper, KU emeritus professor of business.

With the recent arrival to KU of new provost Richard Lariviere, society members now are hoping one of their biggest complaints might be resolved.

KU in 2005 repealed the long tradition of making parking permits free for retirees - despite a recommendation from the parking commission to keep the perk intact.

Then, this spring, KU increased the rates for retirees for 2006-07.

Critics of the fees say the money reaped by the move was dwarfed by the loss of good will.

"The University of Kansas will never realize what they lost," said Tom Mulinazzi, KU professor and head of the parking commission. "I think this has really developed some bad feelings."

Tom Eblen, retired general manager of the University Daily Kansan and Endacott Society president, said some hope the climate will change with the entrance of Lariviere - and a move to rescind the fees would be nice. Lariviere was unavailable for comment Friday.

Endacott Society members, from left, Rita Haugh, Wiley Mitchell, Gwen Mitchell and Genevieve McMahon visit during a gathering at the Adams Alumni Center. The Endacott Society comprises more than 400 retired faculty and staff members from Kansas University.

Endacott Society members, from left, Rita Haugh, Wiley Mitchell, Gwen Mitchell and Genevieve McMahon visit during a gathering at the Adams Alumni Center. The Endacott Society comprises more than 400 retired faculty and staff members from Kansas University.

Parking isn't the only beef.

It's not that the retirees do nothing but sit around and complain about KU. But a variety of small issues have built up, some said, creating a general discontent.

Many said they feel the university has lost its heart, eroding support from a group that otherwise would be among KU's biggest champions.

"It's never formally discussed," Knapper said. "It's just an innuendo now and then and a comment now and then."

The concerns are varied: Concert ticket problems. Parking fees. The failure to keep retirees in the loop on university events.

"If they make us feel like 15th-class citizens, they're not going to have our respect and affection," said Elizabeth Banks, associate professor emerita of classics.

Many of KU's retirees flock to the Endacott Society, a group of about 400 members that get together for a variety of activities: Coffee on Wednesday mornings. Gardening seminars. Music hours. Lectures. Discussion groups on current events, public policy and other topics.

And bad news, such as the $75 parking fee for gold spaces that once were free, travels fast through the group.

About 660 retirees had parking permits before the start of the fees. The first year after the fees were imposed, that number dropped to about 330. The new fees brought in about $18,000 for that year.

"I don't think the university made any money on it at all and lost a lot of good will," Knapper said.

Some say the retirees weren't using the spaces all that much anyway. Some simply liked to drive through campus while out running errands. Some stopped in to speak with colleagues. They went to the library, the museum or the theater.

"This sort of thing angers people," Eblen said. "It upsets them. People who are upset are less likely to be leaving a lot of money. Of course, people who worked full time for the university didn't make a lot of money to begin with."

Some retirees simply hate being left out of the loop on university events.

Banks recalled stopping at campus one day and finding a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences publication that was distributed to alumni and others but not retirees like herself. As a retiree from the college, she was annoyed.

"I complained profusely about it to a couple of people," she said. "It's the mindset. Why not send it to the retirees and try to maintain their ties with the institution?"

Banks said she now receives the publication. And she and others also have worked to get e-mail notices of various university events.

"To ignore the retirees I just think is incredibly gross," she said. "It's disrespectful in the extreme."

There are still benefits to being a KU retiree. Each of them gets two free tickets for main stage events at University Theater, free access to Robinson Gymnasium, full library privileges, discounts at the Kansas Union Bookstore and other perks. Each also receives one free ticket for events in the Lied Center's Concert, Chamber Music and New Directions series.


bugmenot 11 years, 10 months ago

Wow, 15th class citizens. What an idiot, for what charging a parking fee? I think people who are truly disadvantaged would love for any of the perks of these whiny assclowns.

xenophonschild 11 years, 10 months ago

KU people are special, and I prefer that they be treated well, but this seems a trifle specious. Adapt, roll with the punches, and always be loyal.

classclown 11 years, 10 months ago

Special as in anybody that has anything to do with Snob Hill is automatically better than any of you ordinary people. Now it seems that since some are no longer of any use to them, they're ordinary and no longer special.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

The Endacott society says it is for retired faculty and STAFF at KU. What perks does staff get at KU? Does anyone know?
The staff may have gotten some perks before that they don't get now, but let me hear about these perks all of you know about?

Then you can judge about how soft these people had it.

eskimopieinKS 11 years, 10 months ago

I am staff at KU and we don't get anything, but increases in our parking permit fees (I tell people I have to pay for a parking permit and they say you have to pay to park on campus?!? and I say no, I have to pay to park NEXT to campus) I guess I could use Robinson gym for free, but when can you get in there when you have to work and raise a family, and it's really student-oriented anyway. I guess I could use the library for free but again, it's student-oriented and I can go downtown and use the city library for free too. I do get a few days off each year, but those are given by the state of KS and not KU. I am in close proximity to the KS Union where there was a Burger King and Pizza Hut but they took the BK out. Chick Fil A is in another building halfway across campus so it is not really convenient for me to walk over there. Geesh. And nobody asked me to be in their garden club either. boohoo

usaschools 11 years, 10 months ago

Pogo, maybe you should get an education before you discuss those who have dedicated their lives to education. Of course classified staff members are not treated the same way as professors. Why should they be? The benefit is extended for the same reasons that the professors are paid more during their lifetime - they earned it. You seem to be under the false impression that professors just signed up one day to join the ranks of academia. A huge amount of effort goes into becoming a professor. One becomes an emeriti only after a lifetime of achievement. Sorry, but maintaining the grounds and cleaning up will never pay as well. Get over it, that is the way life works.

Those who get an education further our society. They make the world a better place. Everyone works. There are no medals handed out for that. Not everyone gets an education. There is value in education and those who don't have one are not qualified to speak on the topic.

I suspect some of the negative posters on this thread would be the first in line to complain about the "free ride" if the university was to offer low-cost or free housing to retired classified staff at taxpayer expense. Anyone who uses terms like "snob hill" or dismisses professors as mere conformists obviously lacks an education whether or not one filled a chair in a university classroom for a few years.

These retired professors deserve more respect from the university and from the likes of Pogo.

mooseamoose 11 years, 10 months ago

I think KU treats their staff like sh**. Faculty is, of course, pampered and well paid. But when you're "just" a staff member, you get low pay, no appreciation AND you get that special contemptuous and disdainful treatment from the profs when you have to deal with them.

imagold 11 years, 10 months ago

There are no more classified staff at K.U. They are now University Support Staff, having been taken in under the University pay system...or something like that. It's confusing. As for the parking, I know someone that plans to let their child use their retirement gold permit to park on campus while said student is attending classes. I don't think that's the intended. Frankly, $75.00 is a bargain. I paid $190 this year to park in red zones, which are below Jayhawk Blvd. If I wanted to park and ride from the new lot, I would have had to pay about $220. I believe all permits included a $20 fee for the new park and ride lot, whether you bought a permit for the new lot or not. Now there's something to complain about.

flames_over_the_wasteland 11 years, 10 months ago

Pogo, Let's see . . . you couldn't make it in academia? You could never write that MA thesis? You failed your comprehensive exams?

You, my friend, are an idiot. Do not try to use your limited intelligience to attempt to slander people who have put their lives to endless years of education and research, and who have done more for this glorious state than you will ever do. You're a waste of space. Go back to school and shut your trap.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh I wonder how many of these folks are getting 70k in pension. LOL. Most of them didn't see 70k A YEAR IN SALARY. Which of your companies has pensions where you get paid far more per year than your salary.

And I have never been in the retired faculty apartments, but from the outside, I can't say that is somewhere I would want to live, but again, perhaps the insides are decorated with teak wood, chandeliers, maid service and fully-automated electronics.

classclown 11 years, 10 months ago

The "Snob Hill" comment wasn't directed at everyone with a college education but was directed only to those associated with KU.

They tend to consider themselves as being better than the subspecies of humans that make a living by having learned a trade. Comments like "Those who get an education further our society. They make the world a better place." only serve to affirm this attitude of superiority.

Apparently those with skills that build houses, cars, and everything else we use in our everyday lives contribute nothing. Or nothing important anyways. Solely because they are not enlightened from having attended what is at best in the grand scheme of things a mediocre college.

Comments were made yesterday concerning KSU that were hateful in nature simply because of the envy associated with that particular "low rent" college's acquiring land in Olathe to further their bioscience research and development.

So you have a "higher education" than others that never had that opportunity. Good for you. However, that doesn't mean that you contribute more to society than those that don't.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 10 months ago

Is there any debate after this article that the intelligintsia believe they are a cut above everybody else.

We appreciate your service to education, but their were a good many perks along the way as well, i.e. one year sabaticals, that people in the private sector would love to have. Let's talk about the auto and airline worker retirees that have given up hundreds of thousands of retirement benefits and then we'll talk about paying a lousy extra $75 for a parking spot on a campus you no longer work at. For crying out loud, if this causes you to lose your loyalty to the institution over $75 bucks, then your loyalty never ran deeper than the thickness of your university paycheck anyway. I pay over a $100 for a parking pass at KU, have to move my blasted car every game day, have never received a single paycheck from KU, pay tuition (which paid your complaining rear-ends paycheck), and I LOVE KU.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

Not all faculty at KU make 6 figures. Some professors with tenure do make big bucks. And the ones I have seen do work for it. There is so much that goes into a professorship or teaching that many people must not see.
I, for one, do not think the faculty at KU or any college have it "easy" and deserve any perks after retirement.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

Rephrase -

i think the retired faculty at KU deserve all the perks after retirement.

pylon25 11 years, 10 months ago

I would be willing to be that those who are complaing about the "pampered" professors, yada yada yada, never attended 1 college class. And those on the "University Support Staff" I'm sure are well educated. Where do you expect to go in todays world without an education? And what gives you the right to be vengeful toward those who work hard for years to get a professorship? I'm sorry that KU doesnt pamper it low-level hourly employees who are probobly barely high school grads let along PhD's in various fields. I'm sorry that your bitter because life hasn't taken you where you want it to and that your poor. Probobly should have thought about that when you were younger, maybe heeded someones advice to go to college. You all chose your own paths, and so did the professors. You have no right to chastise them for what they have accomplished simply because it is more than you have. And i'm sure the $75 isn't much money to any of them, it is the principal behind it. I'm sure a retiree from any company would become more and more bitter as they start to see their retirement perks wither away. I don't know why I even bother to read these comments, most of the people who post on here frequently come across as morons, uneducated and jealous of what others have worked hard for. And those of you who do work for the University Support Staff, you should be lucky the university is even here, otherwise you'd probobly be working at wal-mart making even less money and it would be more difficult to make that trailor payment.

lawrencephilosopher 11 years, 10 months ago

Just look at who heads up the university and you will have the answer to all questions. Remember stupid, follow the money!

lovenhaight 11 years, 10 months ago

Anyone who thinks that becoming a professor is only a result of "brown-nosing" is sorely mistaken. Have you ever written a doctoral thesis? Have you ever felt the pressure of "publish or perish"? I doubt it. The professors at KU worked very hard to get where they are, and most of them that I have come in contact with are not the kind of people who think that blue collar workers are any less valuable than themselves. A lot of them are up there working on things that would make life better for other people. Honestly, a lot of the "never had a chance" stuff is getting old. There are programs in place that can help people get an education, as long as they are willing to get past their own hangups, like age. There are scholarships and grants that can take huge chunks out of tuition.

One other thing...people shouldn't post on here and call other people uneducated when they don't know the difference between "your" and "you're". Just a thought.

classclown 11 years, 10 months ago

"And those of you who do work for the University Support Staff, you should be lucky the university is even here, otherwise you'd probobly be working at wal-mart making even less money and it would be more difficult to make that trailor payment."


Case in point.

usaschools 11 years, 10 months ago

Classclown, Had you paid more attention in school, you might have learned some logic. When one points out something, they are not also declaring the opposite. When I say that those who get an education are furthering society (which is quite true) and am in no way saying nor implying that those who work for a living do not contribute to society. I figured some moron would make that false assumption, but it is not inherent in my argument. Anyway, there is a value to being educated. Those who are educated also do work. You don't have to work with a hammer to work. Anyone who doesn't recognize the value of an education is ignorant on that topic. Plain and simple, no two ways around it. If you are not educated, you have no understanding of what it means to be educated. It is like trying to understand marriage when you've never married or having children when you've never had any. You can't do it. In 100% of the cases, you are unable to comprehend what it truly means. It is pretty obvious that those who look down on people with education are uneducated. Pogo, you would fall into this group for sure. You haven't a clue what goes into becoming a professor, that is obvious. If you feel bad about being unedcuated, call the educated people snobs if it makes you feel better. It seems to be your own feelings of inadequacy that you project onto others. It is pathetic really.

classclown 11 years, 10 months ago


I did not attend college, however that does not mean I am uneducated. The distinction that people that have not attended a college are uneducated is nothing more than a form of classism. The same people that make that distinction also consider themselves to be intelligent while those who are not "educated" aren't and appear to make the assumption that anyone who isn't "educated" according to your standards lives in a trailer and has a low wage job at working at Walmart or asking "Do you want fries with that?".

As for feeling inadequate, nothing could be further from the truth. You went your way and I went mine. I'm happy with my life. Are you happy with yours? If so, then good for you.

usaschools 11 years, 10 months ago

Clown, some of my comments were actually directed at pogo, particularly the inadequate part.

It is true that attending college is not the only way to become educated. Good point. That being said, I would say that the vast majority of people with only a high-school education or less can fairly be described as uneducated.  One can get a long way by reading, but few Americans read even one book a year, let alone read broadly. When you get out of high school, you are prepared to continue to learn, but that doesn't mean everyone does it.
 All I'm saying is that if you don't have a good college education, you have no idea what you are missing. You don't even have a way to guage how you compare in terms of education.  It isn't like one can know what it is like to be educated without having become so. 
 I am happy with my life and I'm glad you are happy with yours.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 10 months ago

This is the 21st century people. If you get your retirement benifits you paid into and were promised, your should be happy.

Lawrengineer 11 years, 10 months ago

These pepole who are commenting are the top level professors. Almost everybody referenced in this article.

They have given their careers to KU, and they have lots of time and money now to spend on KU and donate to funds and get sports tickets or whatever.

They were responsible for keeping the university programs respected and accredited, thereby keeping billions of dollars flowing through Lawrence, and bringing millions to KU and Lawrence.

I say give them parking permits and let them campus cruise, take parking spots from students, hang out in the Union, or sun-tan on Wescoe Beach.

Give them a couple of tickets to a Lech Walesa or a stupid ballet at the leid center. The parking garages are hardly ever full anyway.

The university is probably losing money from this, they should keep these folks coming back. Don't make them move to Boulder. Don't make them donate to MU out of spite.

anonimiss 11 years, 10 months ago

The University doesn't treat anybody well. Get over it. I was treated like crud as a student, the TAs are treated as crud, the staff is treated like crud. The fact that you helped the University at one time means nothing to them. They're out for money and power. They're out there recruiting researchers and administrators to build a bigger, more professor-friendly University so that their peers will rate them better in the reviews. They could care less how the buildings are ran, how the classes are, what they teach, or if anybody's unhappy.

Just because the retired professors somehow got a few more years of being treated like somebody doesn't exclude them from real life. Welcome to our world, retirees. It sucks, doesn't it?

Lawrengineer 11 years, 10 months ago

True, I guess I can never know what it is like to be retired unless I am retired myself. I hope it does not suck.

blessed3x 11 years, 10 months ago

Isn't if funny that if you are in acedemia and earn a lot of money then you "worked" for it and the lowly staff people can just sit and spin. After all they should have gotten a better education and worked harder in life. It's their own responsibility.

Yet...if you are in business and work hard to earn a lot of money then you are a low-life S.O.B. that leeches money from the poor, unfortunate souls that are forced to work in your sweat shops. The only reason you are there is that "the man" held you back and you didn't have any opportunities.

Can anyone point out any hypocrites in the above posts? I can.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 10 months ago

Why stop at giving them $75 parking passes. If the syllogism of logic is: Professors are smart; Professors teach other people to be smart; Professors have a hard life teaching others to be smart; Therefore, Professors should be afforded many perks upon retirement.

Well then, if that is the logic, as it appears to be from the consensus of the arguments on here, then why stop at $75 parking passes. We should really provide every one of them spots reserved only for them. If someone parks in that spot, tow it, dismantle the car, sell the parts for scrap, and throw the offending owner into the shackles in downtown Mass Street for public flogging. That will teach one to trepass on the rights of the intelligentsia. We are really just so fortunate that these individuals who are so superior to the rest of us tolerate us who are of intellectual lower class.

neuropenguin 11 years, 10 months ago

I think this is ridiculous. The retired professors I know, including one who I consider a very good friend, worked very hard to make through many years of being affliated with this university, adapting to changes in policy, procedure and administrative personnel through the years, and they deserve whatever we can afford to give them.

That being said, I know many of you are thinking we can't afford to let them park for free or attend plays for free, what about the tuition increase, what about this...and that... How about all of you suck it up? Seriously folks, these very talented and generous people chose to dedicate their lives to the education and progression of society, and believe me, they've never had it easy. Do you think it's easy to teach? Do you think it's easy to run a competent research program? Do you think it's easy to get grad students motivated? Do you think it's easy to hold your tongue so that your program continues to get funding or so that you don't go through quite as much hell during review? Well, if you think all that is easy, and that you'd be willing to live for half or even a quarter as much as you could make in the private sector, then come on down and try it. I'd like to see even half of you make it through a doctoral program and then get (and keep) a tenure track position at an R1 institution. Geez... give it a rest, give them their free parking, let them see 1 event free at the Lied every year (yeah, it was only 1 for free), and whatever else they've had for years. It's the very very very least we can do to show our gratitude.

All this from an undergraduate at KU who would gladly help contribute in whatever way possible to show my thanks to those who dedicated their lives to a wonderful insitution and their students. Much thanks to all of the retired professors and staff from KU.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 10 months ago

I always find it humorous when Lawrencians register knee-jerk complaints about KU. KU does plenty incorrectly and deserves criticism, but all I read here is "KU is a bunch of haughty snobby-pants, nah nah nah." How about some real criticism.

Face it, Lawrencians. Most of you live here because KU is here. Without KU, Lawrence would be just another little sh$%hole Kansas town with no culture, no economy, nothing at all.

KU deserves criticism, but not of the idiotic kind on display here.

fletch 11 years, 10 months ago

I really enjoy how some of you act like KU is some sort of hive-mind where one will guides every single decision. The decision to repeal the parking passes was made by human beings, most likely a board or a single person. The writer of this piece does not identify this board or person at all, which is just plain weak journalism. Same deal with pension plans, newsletters, ticket plans, etc.

So instead of just blaming KU as some monolithic entity, perhaps a little research could be done to figure out who actually made specific decisions. Then that could be reported so there could be discourse about it. I know that might sound like crazy talk, but I do remember something from sitting in Journalism 101 during my freshman year.

lovenhaight 11 years, 10 months ago

In what world is KU encouraging students to stay in school for 6 years to earn a 4 year degree? Are you at all in tune with what goes on at the University? The graduate in four program is one of the most highly pushed programs.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.