History of the Organization

The Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees (OCHER) has its origin in a January 25, 1992 meeting at the Fawcett Center of The Ohio State University. Chalmer Hixson, Professor Emeritus of Physical Education at Ohio State, invited representatives from several state-supported universities in Ohio to share information about retiree organizations on their campuses and to consider the formation of a statewide association of those groups. Representatives from the University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Miami University, The Ohio State University, Ohio University, and Wright State University attended. Each of those schools had active retiree-emeriti associations, except Cleveland State. Wright State was in the process of forming one.

At that January meeting, the 13 attendees described their organizations, shared common concerns, and agreed on the need for a statewide communication network among the organizations. They also agreed to contact other state schools, to invite them to attend future meetings of this umbrella group and to encourage them to organize their retirees. The participants agreed that this new network, when formalized, would not compete with the Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA) or the Ohio Education Association (OEA).

A second meeting of this "steering  committee" on April 9, 1993 included representatives from Kent State University and the Medical College (now University) of Ohio, both of which had active retiree groups, in addition to delegates from the six original schools. Bills had been introduced in both houses of the state legislature to add, among others, a second retiree to the STRS Board. That proposed legislation stimulated the group to action. Shortly thereafter, at a June 25,1993 meeting the name Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees, or OCHER, was adopted for this network, whose purpose was to address issues affecting higher education retirees.  At the June meeting attendees agreed to contact  their state legislators to specify that the second STRS Board retiree member be from higher education.

Several OCHER meetings were held over the next year, and on May 24, 1994 a constitution was unanimously approved. Two representatives from each school present signed the charter: University of Cincinnati, Kent State University, Medical College of Ohio, Miami University, The Ohio State University, Ohio University, Wright State University, Bowling Green State University. Chalmer Hixson was elected OCHER president. Other officers elected were Jim Richard (MCO), vice president; Ray Skinner (OU), secretary, and C. Thomas Ridenour (OSU), treasurer.

Other schools gradually joined OCHER. The University of Toledo did so in 1995, followed by the University of Akron and Youngstown State University in 1998. In 2000 the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine became a member, and in 2004, Cleveland State University. Shawnee State University rejoined the OCHER Board in 2009. The quarterly OCHER meetings have for the most part been held in Columbus. Legislative and Advocacy committees, now combined, have been active since OCHER's inception. In 1998 OCHER hosted its first Annual Conference and in 2001, annual regional meetings were instituted.