Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging honors former gerontology department chair, journal editor, and mentor

The Gerontology Institute and Department of Gerontology at UMass Boston have created a scholarship for doctoral students who are dedicated to prioritizing under-represented communities in their research and/or service through a culturally informed approach. As the older population of the United States is quickly growing more diverse and as the country grapples with a racial reckoning, UMass Boston gerontology leaders are working to encourage more research focused on under-represented communities and grow the academic and professional pipeline.

The new scholarship honors Frank Caro, the former UMass Boston Gerontology Institute director, gerontology department chair, researcher, journal editor, and mentor who was deeply committed to social justice. The Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging will support doctoral students with full tuition coverage, year-round research stipends, and professional development funding.

The gerontology program’s increasing focus on social justice and under-represented communities aligns with priorities set by UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco of “making UMass Boston a leading anti-racist, health promoting public research university with excellence and compassion at its core…combatting racism and inequality in its various intersectional vectors.”

“The Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging will increase the focus on diverse populations in our field,” says Rita Kiki Edozie, interim dean of the UMass Boston McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, which houses the gerontology programs. “The scholarship celebrates Frank’s commitment to students, to trailblazing research, and to social justice. What better place to offer this opportunity than at UMass Boston, which is one of the most diverse public universities in the U.S.”

The research, public service, and teaching conducted by the UMass Boston gerontology program include a focus on racial disparities and socioeconomic inequalities. “People of color, especially Black, Latine, and Indigenous people, often enter old age poorer and sicker than their white counterparts, having contended with a lifetime of systemic racism—which follows them into the later stages of life,” says Jan Mutchler, director of the Gerontology Institute. Yet relatively few students from under-represented communities are found in gerontology graduate programs nationwide or in the ranks of researchers, policymakers, and advocates in the gerontology field. “Among adults 65 and older, Black and Latine groups will grow proportionally faster over the next 40 years than older white adults. The changing composition of the aging population has important policy, research, and practice implications,” Mutchler says. “To effectively work with and serve all populations, we need the leaders of our field to include representatives of these communities.”

Frank Caro

Frank Caro

Caro’s former colleagues welcome this tangible means of honoring their mentor and friend. “Frank was a champion of academic scholarship with a purpose. He consistently used his wisdom, skills, knowledge, and heart to benefit others,” says Edward Miller, chair of the UMass Boston Department of Gerontology. “We are all better off for having known Frank, for having worked with him, having been led by him, and having been educated by him.”

Read more about Frank Caro

The Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging is limited to citizens of the United States. To learn more about the opportunity, write to UMass Boston Gerontology Doctoral Program Director Kathrin Boerner,

To honor Frank Caro and his focus on mentoring and social justice by contributing to the Frank Caro Scholarship for Social Justice in Aging, write to Jeffrey Burr, professor of gerontology,