Our bodies repair and regenerate with the help of compound structures at the end of chromosomes called telomeres. But as these telomeres weaken, we age. Harvard swimmer Meaghan Leddy COL ’12 explains how Harvard scientists are exploring ways to reverse the symptoms of aging by increasing the levels of a certain enzyme to keep our telomeres healthy. It’s a program with eternal benefits.
On a sunny day in June, seven members of the Sacks club, the team that won the Ames Moot Court Competition in 1959, met on the steps of Langdell library to reminisce over what they called their “unlikely” victory, and to talk about where their lives had taken them in the fifty years since.The reunion was occasioned by a box that Joseph Steinberg, one of the two main oralists for the team, had dug up in his basement—filled with a collection of printed briefs from the Sacks club and their opponents in all three rounds of the competition and copies of the posters that had been put up around campus to advertise the highly anticipated event.Steinberg contacted David Warrington, until this past summer the head of archives and special collections at the law library, who was eager to add the collection to the Law School’s archives. Then Steinberg contacted his former teammates—Ansel Chaplin, John Demmler, Geoffrey Gowen, Richard Hobson, John C. Keene, Gordon Millspaugh Jr,. and Walter Noel Jr.—to ask them to dig through their own collections. Slowly the idea of a reunion was born.Read more about the Sacks club reunion and the Ames Moot Court on the Harvard Law School website.
Two Saint Mary’s alumnae, Malea Schulte and Elizabeth Palmer, will share the transformational experiences they had during a research trip in Rwanda at the Moreau gallery opening, “Project Rwanda,” on December 8.While in Rwanda this past year, 2013 graduate Palmer and 2014 graduate Schulte, as part of their project, approached different Rwandans and asked them how they wanted to be remembered, Palmer said.“Face of Christ, change-maker and servant were some of the answers that flowed from their souls,” Palmer said. “We had them write their answer on a white board and took a picture for our exhibit.”“Project Rwanda” will also feature the photography of Jonathan Bell, a passionate photographer from Asia, who will be joining Palmer and Schulte opening night, Palmer said. Prayer flags will be displayed and the artists’ reflections will be depicted.The idea to create the art exhibit came after Schulte’s recent completion of her senior computation titled “Storybank,” which included individual paintings of different members of the Saint Mary’s community.One of Schulte’s interviewees was a woman from Rwanda, whose story inspired Palmer and Schulte to travel to Rwanda in recognition of the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The duo hoped to build connections with people and promote peace through relationships, Palmer said.“Malea interned at a faith based NGO called PICO (People Improving Communities Through Organizing), whose focus is on the different needs of communities, such as clinics and housing, through the world with a base in Rwanda,” Palmer said. “Our connection with PICO paved the way to meeting people and making connections while in Rwanda. The confidence we developed and relationships we formed at Saint Mary’s were our motivating factors.”Shulte’s and Palmer’s goal was to depict the intrinsic beauty of the people of Rwanda 20 years after a horrific genocide, Palmer said.“The photographs are windows to their souls depicting a genuine nature of love, courage, strength, and humility in the midst of suffering, strength and forgiveness 20 years post genocide,” Palmer said. “It parallels the core values of Saint Mary’s College, including faith and spirituality, justice, community and learning. My emotions revolve around gratitude towards the Rwandan’s to open their hearts and share their stories. It is a humbling feeling to get to share their powerful stories with the community here.”“The people of Rwanda are authentic,” Palmer said. “A beauty exists there that allowed us to feel welcomed as their sisters in Christ. There is a simplicity in Rwanda that allowed us to reflect on the meaning of life where relationships are intensely valued. The people in Rwanda have overcome hardship and yet they do not dwell in negativity. Instead, they understand that each day is a gift that should be lived to the fullest.”The Rwandan people opened Palmer’s eyes to what it means to be alive, she said.“We were able to create relationships and have maintained contact,” Palmer said. “We were able to highlight our similarities and acknowledge our differences. This allowed us to gain perspective into humanity.”For both Palmer and Schulte, the beauty of creating Project Rwanda was its unpredictability, Palmer said.“We are not completely sure where it might lead,” Palmer said. “A year ago, Malea and I never could have imagined that we would travel to Rwanda. With faith, support and encouragement from our mentors and peers, and generous support from donors who are Saint Mary’s affiliates, we conquered our goal. It was an empowering experience, and Malea and I will most definitely utilize our teamwork to continue sharing in personal stories of people across the world.”Tags: africa, elizabeth palmer, liz palmer, malea schulte, moreau gallery opening, project rwarnda, Rwanda, storybank
In a resolution passed Monday evening, the student senate urged University administrators to revise the new Residential Life policies. The new policies, set to take effect in fall of 2021, would ban off-campus students from participating in certain residence hall community events and programs.The senate will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the new changes with Erin Hoffmann Harding — the vice president for Student Affairs — and Heather Rakoczy Russell — the associate vice president for Residential Life.Although administrators had hoped the new policies, announced Apr. 11, would encourage students to stay on campus all four years, the changes sparked major pushback from the student body. Most students welcomed the new incentives for on-campus residents — which include free laundry and flexible meal plans — but many objected to the changes excluding off-campus students from the residence hall communities.Senators argued that upperclassmen who move off campus play a key role in fostering community within the residence halls. “Seniors who move off campus are still very much a part of the residential hall community, so I don’t think it should be considered [their] ‘former’ residence halls,” Fisher Hall senator and sophomore DC Morris said. “These guys and gals come back to Mass, they participate in dorm fundraisers and all that stuff — it’s not their ‘former’ residence hall.”Specifically, student government leaders expressed fear that the changes would harm vulnerable student populations. Co-director of Student Life and junior Abby Smith underscored the financial pressures that lead many low-income students to move off campus.“You basically pay 9% more to live on campus than you would to live off campus,” Smith said.The resolution highlighted the experiences of LGBTQ students, victims of sexual assault and dating violence, disabled students and racial and ethnic minorities. Many of these students have experienced adverse treatment within their residence halls, as revealed by the 2018 Inclusive Campus Survey and the 2018 Sexual Conduct and Climate Questionnaire. The new policies may further alienate students who move off campus to avoid this adverse treatment, senators argued.“Separating [these students] from the activities that do build community cohesiveness and friendships … may eliminate the few remaining positive elements of a social living space for them,” the resolution said.The objections raised Monday evening reflect a larger, ongoing debate about inclusivity and diversity on campus. In the wake of the Inclusive Campus Survey, which exposed the negative experiences many minority and female students face, student government leaders have been critical of the University administration. In the 2019-2020 session of the student senate, student government leaders plan to carry this debate forward. Duncan Hall senator and freshman Jackson Oxler said he saw the resolution as an important step in the fight for student well-being. “I think it’s really important that as the representative body as the student population here at Notre Dame, we take steps in the right direction toward representing student opinions — especially when issues that are this important to the students … come into play,” Oxler said in a comment after the meeting.Monday marked the last regular senate meeting of the spring semester. After Tuesday’s special meeting with Hoffmann Harding and Russell, the senate concluded until next fall.Despite the approaching end of the spring semester, however, senators continued planning for their work ahead. They discussed creating senate committees focusing on residential life, University finance and academic affairs.“I think [residential life] is going to be a really important issue going forward, especially next year,” Alumni Hall senator and freshman Jack Rotolo said. “I’m 99% positive there will be more work to do after [the special senate meeting Tuesday], so I think it will be really important — especially for our constituents — that we have a senate committee pursuing this.”Tags: 2019-2020 senate, inclusive campus survey, residential life changes, student senate
View Comments Tony winner Patina Miller is having one fabulous year—after concluding her run in the hit Tony-winning revival of Pippin, she’s currently filming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and gearing up to star in CBS’ Madam Secretary. But wait, there’s more! Miller said “I do” to her businessman beau David Mars at a glamorous New York City ceremony on June 14. Miller’s pals Jonathan Groff, Billy Porter, Charl Brown and more Broadway stars were on hand to help her celebrate the big day. Check out these gorgeous shots, via Miller’s Twitter, of the beautiful bride and her new husband. Congratulations, Patina and David! Patina Miller Star Files
October 2018Pocadventure Adventure TriathlonOctober 13, 2018 | Pocahontas State Park , Chesterfield, VAJust a short drive from downtown Richmond, the final race of the Virginia State Park Adventure Series highlights a 4-mile lake paddle, 12-mile Mountain Bike leg, and a 5-mile trail run. Points will be tallied for the Adventure Series and an awards ceremony will be held shortly after the race. All proceeds go to expanding and maintaining the 80+ miles of trail in the park.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/adventure-seriesfopsp.org/pocadventure.htmlBaltimore Running FestivalOctober 20, 2018 | Batltimore, MDCome out and see why runners are calling the Baltimore Running Festival one of the best races of the east coast. With five distances to choose from, an Under Armour race premium, and finishing at the Inner Harbor, what’s not to love?!thebaltimoremarathon.com May 2018Spring Shakori hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & DanceMay 3-6, 2018 | Pittsboro, NCThe 16th annual spring festival features 40+ bands on four stages. Located on 72 beautiful farmland acres in central North Carolina, just down the road from Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Greensboro. Local crafts, delicious food, kids’ activities, healing arts, music and dance workshops, environmental sustainability forums, camping and much more, all in a family friendly setting.shakorihillsgrassroots.orgFrench Broad River FestivalMay 4-6, 2018 | Hot Springs, NCCelebrate spring in the mountains at the 21st French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Part outdoor adventure, part music festival with whitewater, mountain biking, hiking, kid’s village, and music including The Travelin’ McCourys, The Jeff Austin Band, Billy Strings, Jon Stickley Trio and more!frenchbroadriverfestival.comFrederick Running FestivalMay 5-6, 2018 | Frederick, MDThe Frederick Running Festival, now in its 15th year, is one of the hidden gems of the running community. With four race distance options, each participant receives a race premium and aMaryland themed medal and crosses the finish line at theFrederick Fairgrounds.frederickrunfest.comMudder’s Day Madness 5kMay 12, 2018 | Maryville, TNMudder’s Day Madness 5k is a mud run that consists of obstacles and, of course, plenty of mud! Everyone eight years of age and up are welcome! This is a fun, family friendly, fundraising event benefiting Harmony Family Center’s Montvale camp. It will be held Saturday, May 12, 2018 (the day before Mother’s Day) at 10:00AM on Montvale’s beautiful grounds at the foot ofChilhowee Mountain.harmonyfamilycenter.org Sponsored.Blue Ridge Outdoors is proud to present the top races and events from the Blue Ridge and beyond. Festivals, marathons, mud runs, expos, concerts and more! Mark your calendars now.February 2018Association for Experiential Education 2018 Southeast Regional Conference: Reaching Back To Our Roots To Shape Our FutureFebruary 23-25, 2018 | YMCA Camp Greenville, Cleveland, SCTeachers, students, therapists, leaders, and facilitators who believe that learning through experience positively transforms people and our world: YOU are invited to AEE-SE 2018! Enjoy engaging workshops, a keynote by Trey Fouche of Charlotte Latin School, live music, and fellow professionals who strive for excellence.aee.org/southeastAVL Beer ExpoFebruary 24, 2018 | Asheville Masonic Temple, Asheville, NC30+ breweries, 30+ craft beers, educational panels, and meet the brewers! Limited tickets for the carefully curated industry event that lets craft beer geeks peek behind the curtain of #avlbeer. $30 GA/$60 VIP.avlbeerexpo.comMarch 2018LanternAsiaMarch 9-13, 2018 | Norfolk, VALanternAsia returns to Norfolk Botanical Garden March 9 through May 13!Experience the magic as the garden is transformed with colossal works of art—MORE Art by Day, MORE Magic by Night!For tickets and information call (757) 441-5830 or visit our websites.lanternasia.org | norfolkbotanicalgarden.orgUnited Airlines Rock ‘n’ RollWashington D.C. Marathon & ½ MarathonMarch 10, 2018 | Washington, D.C.The United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. Marathon and 1/2 Marathon returns March 10, 2018 and you’re invited to ROCK the biggest running festival to hit the capital city! More than just a political capital, D.C. is a cultural capital with an endless list of things to do and experience during the race weekend.runrocknroll.com/dcTransylvania Adventure Games (TAG)March 17, 2018| Brevard Music Center, Brevard, NCFamily fun adventure run complete with two courses, an untimed 5k for ages 8 and up, and a mini course for ages 3-12 and under. Both courses are full of memory tests, rope webs, rock walls, and more. The race will be followed by a festival with live music, local vendors, and food trucks! This is a fundraiser event for Mountain Sun Community School!mountainsunschool.org/events/transylvania-adventure-games/Campapalooza 2018March 31, 2018| Diamond Brand Outdoors, Asheville, NCSpring camping season gets an early start with a preview of 2018’s best reviewed gear from international innovators as well as local favorites. Free hourly workshops on topics from festival camping to choosing the right backpack for a thru hike are joined by special buys, giveaways, and the presentation of grants to local environmental nonprofits. diamondbrandoutdoors.com/event/campapalooza-2018April 2018The Cooper River Bridge RunApril 7, 2018 | Charleston, SCThe Cooper River Bridge Run, located in beautiful Charleston, is the 3rd largest 10K in the U.S., averaging 40,000 participants with world-class competition. The main goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle. Take part in our Health & Wellness EXPO on April 7 and 8.bridgerun.comRock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon presented by WRALApril 7-8, 2018 | Raleigh, NCJoin us in April for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon presented by WRAL—the best year yet with more music for your miles! Meet us in the sophisticated and charming capital city of North Carolina to discoverthe hidden gem of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series!runrocknroll.com/raleighThe Runners Marathon of RestonApril 8, 2018 | Reston, VALocated just 20 miles from D.C. in Reston, Virginia, the Runners Marathon of Reston includes a mix of beautiful wooded, paved trails and roads. Runners and volunteers enjoy a free pre-race pasta party, an indoor venue, a post-race feast, and great give-aways. Choose between the marathon, the half marathon, or the relay!runnersmarathon.comTom Tom Founders FestivalApril 9-15, 2018 | Charlottesville, VATom Tom is a celebration of founding—what happens when people envision something cool and make it happen. A week of Summits, keynotes, concerts, competitions, installations, and workshops are designed to make the connections that start great things. Come for the party, leave inspired.tomtomfest.comTom Tom Fest Community Bike RideApril 14, 2018 | Charlottesville, VAPlease join Blue Ridge Outdoors, Tom Tom and Blue Ridge Cyclery for a community bike ride at Darden Towe Park in Charlottesville. All ages and skill levels welcome.tomtomfest.comDevils Backbone Mountain Cross and Blue Ridge MetricApril 14-15, 2018 | Nelson County, VATwo amazing rides in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains! On Saturday, a mixture of paved and unpaved roads and on Sunday, an all paved ride. Choose between 65-mile or 45-mile options. All riders receive a $15 gift card to the Brewery. Registration online.bikereg.com/devils-backbone-mountain-crossJames River Adventure TriathlonApril 21, 2018 | James River State Park, Gladstone, VAThe fifth race of the Virginia State Park Adventure Series features a beautiful course with a 7-mile kayak run, an 8-mile Mountain Bike leg and a 3.1-mile trail run. Racers can compete solo or in teams. All abilities are welcome. Bring the family and enjoy camping on the river during your stay. Proceeds will benefit the Gladstone Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.trireg.com/adventures-on-the-james-4dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/adventure-seriesThe 2018 Redbud RideApril 21, 2018 | London, KYThe Redbud Ride is one of the most beautiful and challenging bike rides you’ll ever experience! The ride starts in beautiful downtown London, Kentucky, one of the top 10 redbud sight-seeing routes in the state! Register online today!redbudride.comSt. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon & ½ MarathonApril 26-29, 2018 | Nashville, TNJoin one of the best spectator-supported and most music-filled courses in the Series! This challenging yet beautiful route takes you past the iconic Honky Tonks and through some of Nashville’s hippest neighborhoods.runrocknroll.com/nashvilleVirginia Creeper FestApril 28, 2018 | Abingdon, VA Come join us at the trail head of the Creeper Trail in Abingdon, Virginia as we celebrate outdoor recreation in Southwest Virginia. Get hands-on at this event with activities like a 10K race, Yoga in the Park, Rock Climbing, Trail Excursions, Sunset Bike Rides and more, friendly to all ages! Full schedule and information on our website.vacreeperfest.com Hops in the HillsJune 23, 2018 | Maryville, TNJoin us for the 4th Annual Hops in the Hills Craft Beer Festival… A Celebration of Fermentation. Enjoy some of the most unique and tasty craft beer with the Great Smoky Mountains as the backdrop. Beer…Food…Music… and Beauty. Come experience us.hopsinthehills.comJuly 2018The Summit—A Hiking and Backpacking Conference for WomenJuly 13-15, 2018 | Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NCThe Summit is a weekend of classes that range from making your own gear and map reading, to outdoor writing and photography, all of which are designed to enhance your outdoor experience.Come join us for inspiration, camaraderie and friendship.traildamessummit.comSeptember 2018Breaks 40 MilerSeptember 8, 2018 | Breaks Interstate Park , Breaks, VAThe latest race adventure is coming to the Breaks Interstate Park! The park is partnering with Next Opportunity Events to challenge those brave enough to conquer two states, 40 miles of trail, and 24,000 feet of elevation change!nextopportunityevents.comNew River Trail ChallengeSeptember 15, 2018 | New River Trail State Park, Max Meadows, VAThe penultimate race of the Virginia State Parks Adventure series, the “Challenge,” is one of the oldest, largest, and toughest Adventure Triathlons in Virginia. Started in 2000, the race features a 40-mile bike ride, 12.1-mile kayak and half marathon along the scenic New River. All ages and skill levels can compete solo or in teams. Competitors range from world class athletes tocostumed teams and “bucket listers.” Everyone is welcome.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/adventure-series dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/nrt-challengeCumberland River ChallengeSeptember 22, 2018 | Barbourville, KYThe Canoe and Kayak Race is an annual event, hosted by Union College, U Canoe and Barbourville Tourism. The race consists of 15 miles of river, ranging from calm water to beginner-level rapids. It starts on the Knox County line bordering Bell County and finishes in Knox County at the Thompson R.V. Park.barbourvilletourism.com/adventure/canoe-kayak-race AVL Beer WeekMay 25-June 3 2018 | Asheville, NC76+ events around Asheville and WNC. 8th Annual smorgasbord of beer-centric events, from beer dinners, to beer releases, Angry Yoga, education, music events, and more! Location and event entry varies.avlbeerweek.comSummer 2018Alleghany Highlands Summer EventsSummer 2018 | Alleghany Highlands, VAThis summer, it’s GAME ON. We are home to four of the most action-packed outdoor events in the Mid-Atlantic. Whether you run, bike, swim, all of the above, or simply enjoy great competition, don’t miss out on the fun. It’s uniquely Alleghany.visitalleghanyhighlands.com/featured-events2018 Bryce Bike Park Summer SeriesSummer 2018 | Bryce Resort, Basye, VAJoin us from May to October for a six-race mountain bike series for new and experienced racers alike. The series features simplicity and fun with your fellow riders minus the high cost and stress associated with big series events. Visit our website for more info!bryceresort.comJune 2018Baltimore 10-MilerJune 2, 2018 | Baltimore, MD2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Baltimore Ten Miler, which starts and finishes at the scenic Druid Hill Park, home of the Maryland Zoo. Runners are treated to a post-race party and race premium, which Runners World awarded “Best Swag Item” in 2009!baltimoretenmiler.comBeer City FestivalJune 2, 2018 | Roger McGuire Green, Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville, NCEnjoy 35+ breweries with rotating small batch offerings, guest breweries, and live local music. For $45 get unlimited samples / $25 entry with tokens. Designated Driver tickets are also available.beercityfestival.com Bath County TriathlonJune 23, 2018 | Marina at Lake Moomaw, Warm Springs, VANestled in the Virginia’s Western Highlands, Bath County is one of the hidden gems of TriAdventure. The Bath County Triathlon includes a 750 meter open water swim, 20k bike loop and a 5k run on closed roads. Awards and post race meal will be provided.triadventure.com November 2018Richmond MarathonNovember 10, 2018 | Richmond, VAHaven’t #RunRichmond yet? What are you waiting for?! Each of our scenic courses showcases some of our RVA’s favorite attributes. With thousands of volunteers and spectators encouraging you, and more race perks than you can count, you’ll see why we’ve earned our rep as “America’s Friendliest Marathon”!richmondmarathon.org
The WHA also took a somewhat wary look at two recommendations on smallpox research made by a WHO advisory committee last fall. The World Health Assembly (WHA) “welcomed progress on WHO’s work to establish a global smallpox vaccine reserve,” the WHO said in a statement during the meeting, which ended last week. The effort involves a vaccine stockpile at WHO headquarters in Geneva, plus additional supplies held in participating countries and pledged to WHO for use in an emergency. The agency said it now has 2.5 million doses in Geneva, and member countries have pledged 31 million doses. That includes 20 million doses from the United States and 5 million from France. April 2005 report by WHO Secretariat on recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Researchhttps://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA58/A58_10-en.pdf Jun 1, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) plan to build an international emergency stockpile of smallpox vaccine drew support from member countries at their recent annual meeting in Geneva. See also: In 2002 the WHA authorized continued postponement of destruction of the virus, “on the understanding that steps should be taken to ensure that all approved research would remain outcome-oriented and time-limited and kept under review,” the WHO said. In November, the WHO Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Research recommended inserting a green fluorescent marker protein into variola (smallpox) virus to facilitate screening of possible antiviral drugs, the WHO said. “The virus glows green when exposed to an ineffective drug, thus allowing rapid distinction between ineffective and potentially effective drugs against smallpox,” the statement said. May 20 WHO news releasehttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2005/np_wha02/en/index.html April 2005 report by WHO Secretariat on the global smallpox vaccine reservehttps://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA58/A58_9-en.pdf The American pledge of 20 million doses was announced by Tommy Thompson, then secretary of health and human services, last December. Thompson said the nation had more than 400 million doses at that time. The advisory committee also had recommended that researchers be allowed to splice smallpox virus genes into other, less dangerous orthopox viruses for the purpose of testing possible drugs without using the smallpox virus itself. But WHO Diector-General Lee Jong-wook recommended that the committee reconsider that idea, and the WHA concurred with his recommendation, according to McNab. A report by Science magazine’s Sciencenow service said more than half of almost 20 national delegates who spoke at the WHA session voiced worries about the smallpox research proposals. Some urged the WHO to set a firm deadline for the destruction of all remaining stocks of smallpox virus, and others advocated more input from developing countries on the smallpox research agenda, the report said. At its November meeting, the Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Research concluded that no further research involving live smallpox virus was necessary for the sake of developing rapid diagnostic tests, according to a report by the WHO Secretariat. However, the committee reaffirmed the need for live-virus research to develop better vaccines and antiviral drugs, the report says. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, but supplies of smallpox virus are held in two WHO-approved laboratories, one at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one at a national lab at Koltsovo in Russia. The WHA recommended in 1996 that the virus stocks be destroyed. But in May 1999 the body authorized keeping the stocks temporarily to allow for medical research, in case the disease resurfaces as a result of bioterrorism. In the WHA discussion of this recommendation, WHO spokeswoman Christine McNab told CIDRAP News by e-mail, “The main concerns were for biosafety and biosecurity. Therefore, any proposals to carry out this kind of research would be very carefully examined with these issues in mind before any research was actually approved.” The WHO statement said further that the advisory committee would examine research proposals one at a time. The WHA didn’t take a formal vote on the research recommendations, according to McNab and media reports. A recent report by the WHO Secretariat says plans call for increasing the Geneva stockpile to at least 5 million doses and boosting the reserves held by participating countries to at least 200 million doses. The vaccine would not be used unless smallpox actually re-emerged.
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UK charities are facing pension deficits proportionately higher than listed company schemes, according to a report from consultancy firm Hymans Robertson report.The report, titled ‘DB pension funding in the charitable sector’, found that across 40 of the largest charities in England and Wales, the average pension deficit equalled 18% of their unrestricted reserves – funds freely available to spend on a charity’s purposes, and which therefore indicate a charity’s ability to support its defined benefit (DB) obligations.In contrast, the DB scheme deficit for the average FTSE 350 company was only 1% of its market capitalisation, the consultancy said.Alistair Russell-Smith, head of corporate DB consulting at Hymans Robertson, said: “Charities are facing the double whammy of fundraising pressures hitting income, at the same time as The Pensions Regulator [TPR] wants them to put more cash into their pension schemes.” Action for Children£614.4m£614.6m(£0.1m)100% RSPB£194m£267.6m(£73.6m)72% Royal National Institute for the Blind£263.7m£266.4m(£2.7m)99% National Trust£628.9m£754.1m(£125.2m)83% RSPCA£260.3m£306.6m(£46.3m)85% Cancer Research UK£725.3m £651.8m £73.5m111% NSPCC£168.4m£186.4m(£18m)90% Barnardos£684.6m£823.5m(£138.9m)83% Age UK£125.2m£143.3m(£18.1m)87% Mencap£131.2m£140.1m(£8.9m)94% General Medical Council£233.3m£219.4m£13.9m106% Royal National Lifeboat Institution£329.9m£380.4m(£50.5m)87% Guide Dogs for the Blind£302.8m£298.6m£4.2m101% Canal & River Trust£551.8m£539.7m£12.1m102% In its report, the consultancy warned that TPR was expected to introduce stricter funding requirements for DB schemes, which many charities could feel was “onerous”. The company also expressed concern that such a regime could force some schemes to take more investment risk.However, Russell-Smith said charities should seek to make use of their advantages over companies.“Charities tend to have far less covenant leakage than corporates – they don’t pay dividends, often have no debt, and there tends to be a strong focus on preserving reserves,” he said. “So pension scheme trustees may have more confidence in the long-term covenant support than with a corporate.”He added that some charities had unencumbered assets such as property on their balance sheet, which could be used to provide additional covenant support to the pension scheme.“The long-term covenant, bolstered where possible with security over charity assets, could support a longer recovery period for the pension scheme,” he said. “All this helps set a sustainable funding and investment strategy for the pension scheme with appropriate contingency plans in place.“As The Pensions Regulator becomes tougher and intervenes more in pension funding in the sector, I expect this to become an increasingly important feature in a charity’s toolkit.”Russell-Smith also highlighted consolidation as an option for charity DB schemes. One option was “sectionalised DB master trusts”, which he said could reduce scheme running costs by as much as 50% while removing the ‘last man standing’ risk inherent in some multi-employer schemes.TPT Retirement Solutions is one such offering, and already runs a number of charities’ DB funds.Russell-Smith added: “Commercial consolidators can provide a clean break to employers from their DB pension scheme at a lower cost than buy-out, and especially for charities in multi-employer schemes to exit cost-effectively, while improving benefit security for their members.”Pension funding levels of UK charitiesFor some UK charities, maintaining DB schemes has proven a near-impossible challenge, writes Nick Reeve.In March this year, a small development charity in Northern Ireland shut down, citing the unaffordable cost of its DB scheme, and IPE research has shown that larger charities also face large shortfalls.More than half of 44 charity DB pension funds analysed by IPE were in deficit according to their latest annual reports. Of the sample, 29 funds recorded a shortfall, and in some cases the nominal deficit was a significant proportion of the charity’s annual income.Hymans Robertson’s report showed that the average charity DB fund deficit was equal to 24% of annual unrestricted income, but this figure was much higher for some individual charity schemes.Animal charity the PDSA’s £49.7m pension fund deficit, recorded at the end of December 2017, was more than 48% of its total 2017 income, while Blind Veterans UK reported a DB pension deficit of £17.6m at the end of March last year, 59% of its annual income.Pension funding levels of UK charitiesCharityAssets Liabilities Deficit/(Surplus) Funding level PDSA£119m£168.6m(£49.7m)71% Children’s Society£143.2m£146.4m(£3.2m)98% Save The Children UK£161.3m£176m(£14.7m)92% Salvation Army£313.1m£341.3m(£28.2m)92% Oxfam£193.3m£196.6m(£3.3m)98% Scope£111m£96.9m£14m114%
Earlier this year, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) released the first wind index for offshore wind farms. The Fraunhofer IWES Offshore Wind Energy Index (FROENIX) helps with estimating the inter-annual power density variation at offshore wind farm sites.Indexes have been used for onshore wind farms in Germany for several years now, allowing the achieved wind farm output to be compared against the expected output and thus enabling operators to identify and remedy the causes of performance losses.With the new FROENIX, Fraunhofer IWES recently made it possible to use the methodology at offshore wind farms in the German Bight.Find out more in our Expertise Hub interview with Martin Dörenkämper, Scientist at Fraunhofer IWES.For more Expertise Hub interviews, visit Navingo’s Offshore WIND channel on Vimeo.