WHEN GETTING OLD ARE YOUNG AGAIN!

By Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA
AIANJ Regional Director, ’11-‘13

As many of you know and this especially goes for Michael Hanrahan, AIA, OUR immediate Past President who absolutely knows that over the last few (or more) years I have certainly talked and even written about getting older.   My four decades of continuing membership in OUR organization, is very special to me.  My so called badge of longevity is almost front and center of everything relating to my home section of Newark and Suburban Architects and more recently, OUR AIANJ Chapter/Region of the Institute. In fact in my position in representing you the member on the National Board of Directors, I think that I can safely state that I have the longest tenure of membership in our organization among the fifty plus members of OUR esteemed leadership.

While at my age and I must mention here that my good friend Joseph Flock, AIA, always reminds me “that age is only a state of mind.  If you don’t state it, I don’t mind!”  However, I was looking forward to becoming an Emeritus Member, and am a bit disappointed that I will just have to wait another……………never mind, I won’t state how many more years!

The proposed By-Law to be voted on at the AIA Convention, which you all should be attending, next month, since it is in Washington, DC,  has made some of OUR ‘older members’ young again!  Here is what is being proposed:

Under the current Bylaws, Architect members are eligible for Emeritus status if they have been members in good standing for 15 successive years and are at least 65 years old. Under the proposed amended Bylaws, the 15 years of continued membership applies, but members will have to be retired from practice and now have to wait until age 70!

Now you may ask why change the eligibility criteria, or to quote Al Pacino from Godfather 3, “just as I was ready to get out………….they pull me back in again!”  Well the answer to that question is three fold:
Continuity: with a longer life expectancy, so has the period of active professional life, so the change simply reflects that demographic.
Consistency: The change would align the Emeritus status with the requirements of many licensing boards with the emphasis on retirement from practice a key criterion.
Fairness: Those whose livelihoods are derived from active professional practice benefit from Institute programs and they should continue to contribute to our ability to provide those programs for as long as they benefit.

You should not worry if you are already an Emeritus member, but not 70 years old, because your Emeritus status remains.  What is most important to understand is that OUR strength is in OUR membership.  Critical to that strength is our ability to engage emerging professionals while retaining the experience of our prior generations.  If our membership retires and disengages, OUR position as an industry leader will certainly suffer.  We must afford all members a meaningful opportunity to remain engaged, and encourage them to do so, for as long as possible.

Lastly, a substantial portion of OUR membership is employed in varied alternative careers which do not fit into any workable definition of the “profession of architecture” we could ever realistically create. Therefore, in order to provide an objective benchmark that will apply to all members equally irrespective of their form of employment or practice; we must employ a measure that focuses on an objective principle that is common to all members.

Though I am sure Michael will try to remind me of my age, I will now just state that I am an older member who by virtue of the passing of this proposed Bylaw is young again! Please join me at OUR annual Convention and help me celebrate what Jerry Larson, Sr. AIA has always called me……”Jerry the younger!”

Thank you,
Jerry

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