Temple is known for its diversity, and it goes beyond race, gender and ethnicity. For over 30 years Temple’s Association for Retired Persons has provided retirees in the greater Philadelphia area with continued education opportunities. Members of TARP can take an undergraduate class on any of the university’s campuses at no charge. With an annual membership fee of $200 and a $10 activity fee, members can choose from more than 50 classes per semester, which are taught mostly by retired persons at Temple University Center City.
Participants are allowed to take an infinite number of courses, ranging from health to law, that require no assignments or grading and allow students to come and go as they please.
“There is no pressure,” said TARP director Pat Rooney, who enjoys the daily challenges of her job.
“There is a sense of entitlement among members in that they don’t have to prove anything,” Rooney said, describing TARP’s members as “opinionated” and “loveable.”
Participants are also permitted lending privileges for books and videos, discount parking, a festive holiday party and an annual meeting and luncheon that reports on the status of the organization. Members can also choose to attend the Friday Forum lecture series, which features a new guest speaker each week at TUCC Room 222 at 10:30 a.m. These lectures are open to the public and bring various personalities from different fields, such as communications.
Although similar programs for retirees exist at area schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Neumann College, a unique aspect of TARP is that faculty members, who are retired persons, pay the same membership prices that students do. Most teachers are students who teach one class while taking several others per semester.
“It’s the only place where you’ll pay to teach,” Rooney said.
Yet people are doing it in increasing amounts. TARP has more than 500 members, a number likely to increase even more with the aging baby boomer generation, Rooney said.
David Peyster, a TARP participant, describes it as a “club.”
“It’s only partly about the academics,” said the former jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler, who is teaching an advanced computer class while taking several literature courses this fall.
Rooney said that the organization is great for personal relationships that are important in forming one’s physical and mental health in addition to academics.
“There is at least one romance that is going on, but I’m not going to say any names,” she said.
Mary-Ann Reiss, TARP member and Co-Chair of its Education Board said that all persons in the TARP program want to be there, and that they are “grateful and motivated across the board.”
Reiss, a former West Chester University language and cultures professor, said programs like TARP are important because keeping an active mind is “so helpful in so many different aspects of life; it helps people stay young, maybe not chronologically, but in other ways.”
Peyster also said programs that keep the elderly alert are vital because “the brain, just like any other machine, can stagnate. If you don’t keep thinking and using it, you can get old a lot faster than those who do.”
For more information visit www.temple.edu/tucc or by call (215) 204-1505.
Bridget Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.