Proposal to:
NCSU Board of Trustees
For a Residential Retirement Center for Faculty and Alumni
On Centennial Campus.

NCSU Association of Retired Faculty (ARF)

December 6, 1999.



An increasing number of universities are participating in the establishment of residential retirement centers on or near university land. The centers are publicized to retired faculty and alumni but also accept other friends of the university as residents. The universities who have participated in these programs see them as a way to provide a continuing relationship with faculty and alumni as well as providing a service to this group that is increasingly needed.

The Retired Faculty Organization at NCSU has been investigating the possibility of developing a residential retirement facility on Centennial Campus. We have met with retirees, held discussions with Claude McKinney, investigated funding and development methods at other retirement centers, and generated a general concept of needed facilities. We are at the point where we wish to seek endorsement from the University and the Board of Trustees for this enterprise.

We hope that the result of this proposal would be a positive endorsement from the trustees that would lead to the identification of appropriate space at Centennial Campus and the establishment of university representatives to work with us in generating a development plan.


Benefits to the University

We believe that a retirement facility would be compatible with the university requirement that developments on Centennial Campus be supportive of university objectives.

The location of a residential retirement center on Centennial Campus would serve as a symbol of the University's commitment to diversity. The Chancellor has articulated this objective for the University and the inclusion of the most rapidly growing segment of our population on Centennial Campus would provide a testament to this goal.

A Center demonstrates a University commitment to all faculty and could therefore serve as a recruiting tool for new faculty as well as an attraction to existing senior faculty.

A retirement center near a university would attract individuals who wish to interact with the university and it could therefore provide a means by which residents with academic skills make contributions to the university. Advising students, touring campus visitors through facilities, teaching some classes coaching students for scholarships and helping students with writing and speaking skills are examples of collaborative activities. It would also be likely that residents could develop collaborative programs with the middle school that is to be constructed on Centennial Campus.

Individuals living on or near a university campus become much more interested in the activities associated with the university and tend to participate in educational programs like Encore and to attend plays and athletic events. They also become regular financial supporters of the university. One of the comments we heard frequently from university administrators was that the largest donations to the university tended to come from residents of the university sponsored retirement center.

The presence of a large number of mature retirees also provides an opportunity for research on the life prospects and productivity of older persons. One of the frontiers of research in human resources is the study of older adults and their capabilities. The presence of a population of older adults near the main campus who have an interest in collaborating with NCSU would make it easier for NCSU faculty to conduct such research studies.

It should also be noted that most universities negotiate a lease arrangement for the land used for the retirement center so a continuing source of income to the university is provided by the center.

Development Models

The kind of facility to be constructed and method of financing appears to vary from campus to campus. We have focussed in our information gathering upon what might be considered to be "full service" facilities because of our belief that retired faculty and alumni will desire comfortable living accommodations, medical care, full food service and proximity to transportation and recreational facilities. The easiest way to illustrate the diversity of development models and resulting university participation is to summarize the development of selected projects around the country.


The Colonnades in Charlottesville VA occupies 59 acres of University of Virginia owned land located several miles from the U VA campus on what has been designated as a future research and extension campus. The facility is a full-service residential retirement center with a mix of individual cottages, apartments, and assisted living units along with a health center and various recreational facilities. The retired faculty organization was instrumental in gaining university support for the facility and the university elected to issue a request for proposals to construct and operate the facility; a request that led to an award to Marriott Corp. which operates 100 senior living facilities in twenty-six states.

The facility opened in 1991 and operates independently of the university although medical care is provided through the geriatrics program at the U. VA medical school. Approximately 30% of the residents have had a prior association with U. Va. The University also collects an annual rental fee for the land which is assigned to Marriott under the terms of a 99-year lease.

University House at Wallingford

An example of a high-density retirement community is provided by the University House in Seattle WA which is located in a single five-story building located on approximately an acre of land near downtown Seattle. The building is "U" shaped with residents looking out on a landscaped courtyard and the Seattle skyline. The project was conceived by the University of Washington Retirement Association which may well be the most active university retirement organization in the U.S. The university provided support in the form of meeting rooms, faculty advisors and publicity but the project was essentially created and managed by the retirement association of the university. A private developer secured the land, constructed the facility, and is the current operator.

The center is located two miles from campus and has an occupancy that is greater than 50% retired faculty with the remaining residents consisting largely of parents of faculty, alumni and friends of the university. The initial advertising was solely to university retirees and additional applicants were solicited only after all faculty applications had been obtained. Apartments rent monthly and the project has been fully occupied from its inception. While it provides a full range of services, the medical care facility does transfer Alzheimer or terminal care patients to other facilities in the area. The facility is described to us as an extremely attractive retirement home with fine statuary, beautiful stained glass windows and other fine appointments.

Green Hills

An example of a retirement community in which residents have equity ownership in their units is provided by Green Hills Retirement Community in Ames, IA. The facility sits on 30 acres of what had been Iowa State University land located approximately four miles from the ISU campus. The facility was proposed by the ISU Alumni Association and a consortium of local developers handled the initial marketing and construction. ISU became more directly involved in the late 1980's when initial unit sales lagged and the University Retirement Corporation was created to provide leadership and assistance in guaranteeing loans for construction completion. The corporation still provides overall leadership for the facility with a managing Board that consists of a mix of university officials and prominent local leaders. Individual residents may sell their cottages or apartments directly and the price is determined by market conditions.

The operation of the facility is similar in many respects to other university related retirement communities. Operation of the medical facilities is contracted to a separate organization with skills in this area (Life Care Services of Des Moines in this case) and food services are also subcontracted. University alumni and faculty mailing lists are typically used for resident recruitment and the university usually has a senior official or a committee of university employees that provides leadership. The facility operation is often non-profit with a resident association determining many of the operational details.

The university role is typically most visible in the initiation phase of the project and can consist in providing the land for construction, assisting in construction financing, and provide general management oversight in the early phases of the project. Alumni from the university and retired professors and staff usually comprise between 30% and 40% of the residents with the remainder drawn from individuals who simply want to have access to a university or like the general ambiance.

The Village at Penn State

This facility may well serve as a model for an NCSU facility in terms of the university role in the development and operation of a retirement center.
A university committee headed by the VP of Development and including other senior university officials has guided the development and construction of the retirement center. The site selected is near the university campus (less than a mile from the stadium) and is composed of 80 acres of university land adjacent to 100 acres of privately owned land, which will be developed along with the retirement center. The two developments will be known collectively as "The Village at Penn State" and will include a Planned Residential Development on the private land and A Continuing Care Retirement Community on the university land. The PRD will be open to residents 55 years of age and older who are continuing their interests in work, travel, and continuing education while the CCRC will be open to individuals at least 62 years of age who seek a complete range of support services including meals, housekeeping, and medical care. Presumably residents of the PRD will be able to relocate to the CCRC as circumstances dictate.

The university issued a request for proposals to construct and operate the facility in summer 1996 and received 18 responses. Pinnacle Development Co., a venture of local and business leaders with strong university ties (for example, Joe Paterno) was selected to develop the facility while CRSA, a professional service organization which provides operational and marketing services to 35 senior housing communities in 24 states was selected as the operator.

The university is seeking to attract retirees who are younger than those at typical retirement facilities and has identified a number of ways in which the university could interact with the retirees. President Spanier has noted a university interest in working with the facility through programs in health planning and administration, recreation and leisure activities, hotel and restaurant management, and the university gerontology center. He has cited advising students, teaching occasional courses, serving a "grandparenting" role in the daycare and pre-school facilities, and providing campus tours as just some of the ways that the retirees could be of help to the university.

The facility operates a web site at, which provides additional information on the project. The project is now in the resident recruitment phase and it is not yet clear that construction has started. As of mid-October 1999, 260 applicants had each paid the $1,000 deposit requested as a first step to residency.

What is clear from the web site and from the university news releases is that Penn State is committed to the development of the project and sees it as something that will play a future positive role in the university community.

The Forest at Duke

This facility services as an example of a local retirement community with a university association that provides a full range of services and both cottage and apartment living. The facility occupies a 47-acre site located several miles from the Duke campus. The project was started by retired Duke faculty and had only minimal initial assistance from the university. It was financed through state bonds and is operated by a non-profit organization that was created specifically to operate the retirement center. The Forest at Duke includes a high percentage of retired Duke faculty as residents. While Duke was not intimately involved during the development phases, the relationship with the university has strengthened during the operation stage. Residents participate in a number of Duke programs and various lectures are presented at the site by Duke professors. The Duke Medical Center operates an Alzheimer's facility at the Forests at Duke that has received national recognition.

Texas Tech

This university is in the early stages in developing a residential retirement center on university land and could serve as another model for NCSU. A 60-acre site adjacent to the new School of Nursing has been identified as the construction location and a development committee consisting of retired faculty and university personnel is now attempting to develop financing and specific characteristics of the facility. We learned of their efforts when a three-person team from Lubbock visited NCSU and met with several of our retired faculty to learn of facilities in this area.

There are other retirement facilities with university associations that have not been investigated by our retired faculty organization. A Newsweek article on the growing trend towards university developed retirement centers that was published approximately eighteen months ago cited facilities at Cornell, Dartmouth, Florida, Alabama and Georgia as well as the Iowa State and U. Va. facilities summarized here. We have recently become aware of facilities at the University of Michigan and the University of Indiana that were sponsored by the universities.

There are also a number of privately funded centers that are springing up near universities without university participation because the benefits of locating near an educational institution are well recognized.

In summary, there are almost as many variations on the university role in the development of senior retirement centers as there are centers. In some instances the driving force for development comes from the university while in other cases it is retired faculty or private developers that have provided the catalyst. Some are operated by non-profit organizations while others are expected to earn a profit. The land allocated to the center can vary from slightly more than one acre up to 80 or 90 acres. The universities have donated the land in some cases while in others they have signed long-term leases that provide annual income to the university. In almost all instances, medical care is subcontracted to organizations that specialize in providing this type of service and food services may also be subcontracted.

The programs that appear the most impressive to us are ones in which the university made a commitment to the success of the facility and provided guidance during the financing, construction and operation stages. They are also the programs that have made the greatest effort to utilize the retired faculty in programs that provide benefits to the university. The university officials that we have talked with state that they are pleased with the outcome of their efforts and that they believe their university made a wise decision in becoming involved in the project.


It is proposed that NCSU make a commitment to the construction of a residential retirement center on Centennial Campus that is intended to serve retired faculty, alumni and other friends of the university. In support of this objective, we are asking the University and the Board of Trustees to express their support for university participation in a Centennial Campus project. It is further proposed that the Board of Trustees ask the Centennial Campus planning authority to work with appropriate university officials and the Association of Retired Faculty to identify an appropriate site on Centennial Campus that could accommodate the center.

This action would provide the first step in developing a plan for the financing and construction of a center that could be implemented with university guidance. The desired facility should include cottage and apartment housing as well as supporting facilities for recreation, food service and medical care. It should likely be designed to accommodate between 300 and 400 resident units, which is typical of many of the facilities now in operation. To contain these facilities, the land allocated should likely be at least thirty-five acres.

It should be emphasized that our review of retirement centers that were initiated by universities does not indicate that the universities themselves need to supply funding to make the project successful. They do, however, need to be committed to the success of the project and to provide leadership in selecting among financing and operating choices. We hope that the Trustees would also request the university to identify a senior official at NCSU who would serve as the university liaison to the project and who would be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the university.

The Association of Retired Faculty is prepared to provide assistance through collecting information on other centers, participating in working committees to develop a center, and in maintaining contact with retirees to secure their views on what would be required to make the facility attractive to potential residents.