“My life has changed in a direction I never would have seen it go in had I not been an MAS student. I hope to make you all proud as I move forward in my career in aging.”
—Sophia Casale, MAS ‘23, lifestylist, Chelsea Senior Living, Greater New York 

“Each class gave me another set of tools, not one tool, and they were all connected. Learning is a bunch of connections rather than singular subjects.“
— Sharon Rose, MAS ‘17, social gerontologist and entrepreneur
“This program changes the lives of most people who take it.”
— Debby Dodds,  MAS ‘14, adjunct MAS faculty and director of caregiver engagement, Generation Connect

Alumni of the Management of Aging Services program at UMass Boston joined university and state leaders in October 2023 to celebrate the graduate gerontology program on its 20th anniversary and to affirm its unique impact in the aging services field. The anniversary celebrations included an on-campus event with senior university administrators and an online panel discussion with alumni, faculty, and current students.

Co-founders Lillian Glickman and Ellen Birchander worked with Frank Caro, then chair of the gerontology department, to design a program that would develop leaders in the fast-growing field of aging while also meeting the needs of the students, who are often non-traditional, working professionals with personal responsibilities. The MAS master’s degree and certificate programs have been offered fully online since their second year, in 2005.

Management of Aging Services is a “program for professionals, taught and led by professionals in the field,” Department of Gerontology Chair Edward Alan Miller told guests gathered at the on-campus celebration. “The program expanded the breadth of the UMass Boston gerontology program by adding an applied educational component to the excellent research and community engagement work being done by the department and Gerontology Institute.”

Miller thanked Glickman, who retired in 2019, and Birchander, who still directs the program, for their “skill, energy, commitment, and dedication” to MAS students and their unique needs. “Ellen’s approach to the MAS program is the epitome of promoting student success—high touch, highly interactive, and highly flexible. The MAS program is the epitome of serving the local community in that it produces the aging services leaders needed to address the opportunities and challenges of population aging in the Boston area and beyond.”

Elizabeth Chen, MS ‘14, PhD ‘16, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs, offered effusive praise for the MAS program while presenting a citation from Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey that reads, in part, “We commend the program for developing leaders in the field of aging services to enhance the lives of older adults in Massachusetts and beyond.”

Also addressing guests were Bo Fernhall, dean of the Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences, now the home for the Department of Gerontology at UMass Boston; and Joseph Berger, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Birchander took the occasion to announce the establishment of the Lillian Glickman MAS Student Support Fund. The fund honors the program’s co-founder and offers a way to assist eligible students with program fees and other costs if they experience financial hardship. In addition to creating and leading the MAS program, Glickman served as secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs from 1998 to 2003 and as assistant secretary for nine years. 

Read more about Glickman

“Lillian’s commitment to student success in the field of aging is tireless,” says Birchander. “She recognizes the difficulty of balancing a strong leadership role in the field with the responsibilities of caring for family, a challenge that so many of our students face. Her understanding and sensitivity helped form a program that offered a supportive, flexible space to develop and hone the skills needed to be a leader in the field of aging.”

The on-campus event was followed the next day by an online gathering of current and former MAS faculty, students, and alumni. The informal conversation included a discussion of how the program has helped its alumni and how to build leaders in the field of aging.

Watch online conversation about MAS program

“It was nice to hear how much impact the program has had on people’s lives and careers, that was really touching,” Birchander says. “You do this work for 20 years because you want to make a difference, you hope the program is worthwhile. To actually hear the affirmation that it’s working was wonderful.”

Clockwise from top left: MAS DIrector Ellen Birchander talks with guests at 20th anniversary celebration; Department of Gerontology Chair Edward Alan Miller shares the unique role and impact of the MAS program in the department; Birchander hugs MAS Co-Founder and former Co-Director Lillian Glickman as she announces creation of student services fund in Glickman’s honor; UMass Boston Provost Joseph Berger, center, talks with Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen; Bo Bernhall, dean of Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences, welcomes guests to reception.