Members of the College of Charleston Retired Faculty and Staff Council meet for social and intellectual gatherings pre-pandemic: (l-r) Rick Heldrich, Sue Sommer-Kresse, Stephen Wilson, Amy McCandless, Jim Snyder, Howard Rudd and Bill Olejniczak.

Once a Cougar, always a Cougar – even in retirement.

About six years ago, newly retired College of Charleston employees Sylvia Gamboa, Sue Sommer-Kresse, David Cohen and Kay Smith got together to talk and reminisce about their time at the College. During that casual get-together, they came up with an idea to start a new group. That idea quickly evolved into what is now known as the Retired Faculty and Staff Council.

President Hsu speaks to Retired Faculty and Staff Council

President Andrew T. Hsu speaks to the Retired Faculty and Staff Council at their 2019 holiday party.

“The idea behind the group is to allow retired facility and staff members to get together and maintain their friendship and relationship with former colleagues and friends,” says Gamboa.

That small group of four has now grown into over 300 members. It offers social activities – from visiting Stono Preserve to attending CofC baseball and basketball games – and academic and intellectual programs such as book discussions and lectures. Those retirees not living in the Lowcountry can also stay in touch with other members via a twice-a-year newsletter distributed to the group.

Like everything else, COVID-19 has altered group events for now. With face-to-face meetings now on hold, the group has moved to more Zoom gatherings. This spring, they have assembled a weekly virtual speaker series that features discussions with authors and academics on a wide variety of topics.

In addition, many retired faculty and staff continue to support the College by continuing to teach, volunteering on advisory boards, serving as mentors for students and providing financial assistance for programs and scholarships.

The Retired Faculty and Staff Council would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Center for Livable Communities and partnership with the Center for Creative Retirement (CCR) this spring by allowing CofC retirees to join CCR on Zoom presentations.

Membership is free and open to all retired College of Charleston faculty and staff members. For more information, contact Sylvia Gamboa at, or Sue Sommer-Kresse at