The Gerontology Institute Blog covered every major department and institute event of 2017. But few of those posts could match the impact of coverage of students and their accomplishments filed during commencement season.
Start with those UMass Boston gerontology students who were awarded PhD degrees this year – as a group of eight, the largest in department history. One of the students, Mai See Yang, was selected as the speaker for the year’s graduate commencement ceremony. Read about her extraordinary story and then take a look at her commencement address.
The year also introduced a new institute research center created in partnership with LeadingAge. Co-directors Marc Cohen and Robyn Stone explained why the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston was created and what they hope it will achieve in a video presentation.
It was a year of transition at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston, where founding director Wichian Rojanawon retired after 18 years on the job and new director Jim Hermelbracht came on board. Rojanawon looked back on his years leading OLLI at UMass Boston in a Q&A post shortly before he retired. Another Q&A post with Hermelbracht introduced the new director to OLLI members and outlined his immediate plans for leading institute.
Data and other information developed by the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging provided the foundation for the city of Boston’s new Age Friendly Action Plan, introduced by Mayor Marty Walsh in May. Professor Jan Mutchler also brought financial perspective and analysis based on center’s Elder Economic Security Standard Index to testimony before the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. Earlier in the year, UMass Boston associate professor Elizabeth Dugan had been sworn in as a member of the council reporting to the governor.
The Pension Action Center received two new grants in the fall, helping it continue free pension counseling and legal assistance to low- and moderate-income workers in Illinois. The center continued its work representing retirees facing obstacles obtaining the pensions they had earned, including the case of a Charlestown widow denied her survivor’s benefit and a Vietnam veteran from Illinois told he didn’t qualify for a pension due to the time he spent away from his job on military service.
It was also a big year for UMass Boston gerontology alums. Among them, Elizabeth Chen (PhD, 2016) was named assistant commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Alum Natalie Leland (PhD, 2009), now an associate professor at the University of Southern California, received a major grant for a five-year study comparing care models at 80 nursing homes in 10 geographic regions across the United States.
Government, politics and gerontology all became related stories in 2017. Institute leaders provided important real-time analysis and commentary when funding for programs critical for American seniors was up for debate in Washington. Cohen published detailed analysis of how proposals to change federal funding for Medicaid would affect elders and their caregivers. Institute director Len Fishman wrote in defense of threatened federal tax rules that help make funding for affordable senior housing possible.
And there was so much more — events, research, awards and other accomplishments. You can read about them all in the Gerontology Institute blog.