About October 

Hello from the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech,

About October, we become aware of the change of seasons, even though summer-like temperatures and weather patterns continue to linger.  From Valentine’s Day of this year (the date we issued our last newsletter), which now seems so long ago, to early October, many things in the life of the CfG occurred, and we are so pleased with them.  Highlights in the busy spring included our first 5x5x5 Winter Forum Serieson 15 February (5 slides, 5 minutes, 5 speakers): Drs. Esther Bauer, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures;  Richard Winett, Psychology; Matthew Komelski, Human Development and Family Science; Michael Madigan, Industrial and Systems Engineering; and Kathy Hosig, Population Health Sciences.  Comments about the 5×5 Forumwere so positive that we are planning another for February 2019.   In April, we had a week impossible to forget, because it was such a whirlwind of activity.  On Wednesday, 18 April, I became the second gerontology faculty member to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging (Megan Dolbin-MacNab, Faculty Affiliate, was the first).

Also during that week, on Thursday, 19 April, following our spring Futures Board meeting, we held the culmination of more than a year’s work by a number of CfG Certificate students (Fatemeh Zarghami and Chris Grogg) and undergraduate students (Paddy Bibezadeh and Carolyn Burd) in conducting 30 interviews of older adults and their family members on what it was like to move from a community to a facility setting.  The qualitative data was used as part of a play/discussion/dessert theatre to about 120 students, faculty, and residents, staff, and family members at Warm Hearth Community Center in I Did it My Way Theatre, which featured older adult actors and local actor and director, Mardy Baker.  The behavior change data that were collected 2 weeks post performance, along with that gathered following the performance, will be used for a conference presentation and an article sent out for peer-review.

The next day, in Celebrating the 40thAnniversary of the Center for Gerontology, we were honored to have the wonderful Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., Professor of Human Development, Cornell University, Professor of Gerontology, Weil Cornell Medical College, present on Advice for Living from the Oldest (and Wisest) Americans.  We were graced musically by the Blacksburg Steel Pans and had a gala event at the Inn at Virginia Tech.  The event included our 22ndAnnual Gerontology Certificate Celebration and Awards Ceremony.  In addition to honoring our certificate recipients and Affiliate Faculty Members, we said a fond farewell to Susan Williams, President of our Futures Board, who decided, after many years, to step away from her position.  Further in this newsletter, we feature Tina King, Executive Director of the New River Valley Area Agency on Aging, who will be the new Futures Board president beginning with the 2 November meeting.

While the semester wound down and, as the late spring temperatures became those of summer, we moved along with graduation, grant writing, and preparations for the upcoming school year. Upon our return to classes, we prepared for and held the Fall Gerontology Forum on 26 September.  Our presenter was Jack Levin, Ph.D., Professor and Co-Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, who gave a presentation entitled Has Ageism Declined?  Immediately following Jack’s talk, we held our 3rdAnnual Lemonade on the Lawn Event, which included about 30 people who could enjoy the early fall weather under the trees outside the Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment.

We spent part of the summer and early fall working on our concept for a huge and comprehensive center research grant that we are submitting about a week after the posting of this newsletter.  On tap for November is our application for an online certificate in gerontology, tentatively titled, Graduate Certificate in Leadership for an Aging Society. 

Looking to the spring, we will hold our Mid-Winter Gerontology Forum and in the spring, we will hold the 23rdAnnual Gerontology Certificate Celebration and Awards Ceremony to be held on 25 April and which will feature Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Research, New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.

About October, we at the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech have already made significant contributions to research, locally, statewide, regionally, nationally, and globally.  We look to cooler temperatures, attending the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in Boston in November, and continuing the good work we have been conducting as well a firing the potential for new directions and possibilities.

My best to you all,

Pamela Teaster