A Brief History of the Georgetown University Association of Retired Faculty & Staff (GUARFS)

GUARFS owes its origins to the initiative of Provost Dorothy Brown in the spring of 2001, and to the preliminary research of retired Professor Keith Fort and Carolyn Nocella (then Director of Academic Personnel).  Since the research revealed a wide variety of retired faculty associations throughout the country, Provost Brown suggested that Georgetown start out with the relatively small group of main campus faculty, hence the original name of our organization, the Association of Main Campus, Retired Faculty (AMCRF). 

Formal organization of AMCRF began in the fall semester of 2001.  Under the chairmanship of Professor Keith Fort, an ad hoc constitutional committee drafted a constitution which was approved by the Provost in April 2002.  The first slate of officers to form the Executive Committee was elected in the same month for one-year terms: Keith Fort, President; James Lambert, Vice-President and President Elect; Joseph Jeffs, Secretary; and Valerie Earle, Treasurer.  In subsequent meetings, dues were set at $10 per year and constitutional changes led to two-year terms for officers as well as the addition to the Executive Committee (now called the Executive Council) of immediate past officers and chairpersons of standing committees. The revised constitution was approved at a general meeting of the Association held on April 24, 2004.

At an Association meeting held on April 28, 2006, the membership decided, after discussion, to invite members of two additional groups to participate in Association activities. One group consisted of senior executives, deans, and other administrators, who had worked closely with students and faculty. The second group included spouses of deceased members of the Main Campus Association. After nomination by members of the Association, and approval by the Executive Council, individuals belonging to these groups were invited to become associate members in the Association.

Initially, two social events were held per semester.  The Association has continued to host events which include luncheons with guest speakers featuring prominent university faculty member and officials who have delivered lectures on world politics, issues related to refugees and immigration, modern art, and university policy developments. The association has also sponsored tours of the National Theater, the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum (in Chantilly, Virginia), the Georgetown University Royden B. Davis Performing Arts Center, a private tour of the Lauinger Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, a guided tour of the Philip Merrill Environmental Center at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s headquarters, (outside Annapolis, Maryland), a tour of the African American Museum, and other events.

Under the sponsorship of the Office of the Provost the Association started a non-competitive research grants program to support faculty members engaged in their academic research after retirement. Up to ten $500 grants are awarded every year.

In 2005-2006 the Association, in collaboration with the School for Continuing Studies, started the Georgetown Learning Community Program that offers non-credit courses (2 or 3 Classes) taught by volunteer faculty members. Typically, five or six courses are offered each semester.   Their topics range from psychology, literature, art, ethics, astrophysics, business, philosophy, and religion.

In 2017, the President of the Association, Prof. Sara Hager, suggested that the Main Campus Association should expand to include faculty members and staff retirees from the Medical and Law Centers. With the approval of the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Deans of the Medical and Law Centers, and the Benefits Office, the Association welcomed the new members and changed its name from the Association of Main Campus Retired Faculty to the Georgetown University Association of Retired Faculty and Staff (GUARFS). Currently the annual membership fee for the Georgetown University Association of Retired Faculty and Staff is $20.

GUARFS is a constituent member of the National Association of Retired Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE).

Compiled in March 2005 by Jim Lambert, revised by Joe Earley in August 2006, and in February 2018 by Sara Hager and George Brenkert.