“What we all need to do is find the wellspring that keeps us going, that gives us the strength and patience to keep up this struggle for a long time.” – Winona LaDuke



(notes provided by the erudite Mary Hodson)


Condolences to Larry Johnson, whose father passed away on February 20.


Darrell reported that he attended the chartering of the Champaign Community Rotaract Club.    He also announced that he is offering head shots at his studio after the March meetings.




Tom Ulen introduced his colleague Professor Robert Lawless.   Bob received his BA and JD at the University of Illinois.  He co-authored “Empirical Methods in Law” with Tom who recruited him to return to the University of Illinois to teach.  Bob has also worked with Elizabeth Warren on research in the field of Bankruptcy Law and recently authored a NYT article entitled “The Graying of US Bankruptcy and Fallout from Life in a Risk Society”.


Professor Lawless described the “Consumer Bankruptcy Project” founded by Senator Warren and two others.   They collect public court records on bankruptcies.  They send paper surveys to a random sample and follow up with telephone interviews.  The major reasons for bankruptcy cited by the respondents are medical, job interruption and divorce.  When asked what they did to try to avoid bankruptcy, younger people are more likely to say that they worked more.   Older people are more likely to say that they took money out of their 401k.  


The findings show that bankruptcies among those 65 and older are “exploding”.   In 1991, one in  25 bankruptcies were filed on behalf of people over age 65.   Today, one in eight are over 65, a 478% increase, and the statistics show that it is not just because the population is aging.  


Across all age groups, 2/3 of respondent cite medical costs as a reason.  Among young people, 21% cite student debt.   Among those 65 and older, 22% say that they have helped someone else financially.  


Professor Lawless also believes that the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans is causing risks to be shifted to older individuals.  According to Lawless, “Resources that  used to be there are no longer there, and we need to fix gaps in the safety net.”   He also blames the increase in bankruptcies on the increased access to consumer debt beginning in  the 1980’s.  He said that campaign contributions from the consumer finance industry are the “poster child” for campaign finance reform.



  Feb 28th Mar 7th Mar 14th Mar 21st
Introductions Adam Wright Oktay Baran Keith Brandau Michelle Barbey
Reflection Charlie Smith Mary Kay Smith Adam Wright Ondine Gross
Greeters Adam Wright Oktay Baran Keith Brandau Michelle Barbey
Andrew Kerins Bob La Charite Candy Loyd Ben Mast
Song Leader David Henry Mary Hodson Darrell Hoemann Larry Johnson
Notetaker Hodson Conforti Perry Penwell


UPCOMING SCHEDULE (with program committee member responsible listed in parentheses)

February 28th – Dr. George Gross, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC (Ondine)

March 7th – Don Wuebbles, The Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and University of Illinois Presidential Fellow, will speak about climate change (Phyllis)

March 14th – Kimberly Kendall will discuss Leisure, Aging, and Wellness (Tom)

March 21st – TBD (Bob)

March 28th – TBD (Charlie)

April 4th –  Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension, will speak about the Money Mentor program (David)

April 11th – TBD (Mary)

April 18th – TBD (Ondine)

April 25th – TBD (Phyllis)

May 2nd – TBD


Rescheduled – William D O’Brien, Professor Emeritus, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC, will tell us about his current research in ultrasonic bioengineering (Mary)