Virginia Tech's Center For Gerontology Celebrates 25th Anniversary

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 26, 2003 – The Virginia Tech Center for Gerontology, founded in 1977-78, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Ceremonies will be held April 3 at 7 p.m. in the Fralin Biotechnology Center auditorium to recognize founding faculty and other associates of the center and present the 2003 Graduate Certificates in Gerontology. The public is invited

Virginia's Commissioner for the Department of Aging, Jay DeBoer, will join President Charles Steger and Provost Mark McNamee in celebrating the centers achievement. Toni Antonucci, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and a nationally recognized leader in the field of gerontology is the keynote speaker for the recognition ceremony.

The Center is one of the oldest university research centers at Virginia Tech. In 1975, Professor James Montgomery sparked the original idea of a gerontology degree. The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, responsible for approving new degrees, was concerned about duplicating programs among Virginia institutions. After two years of debate and discussion in Richmond, agreement was reached that Virginia Tech would be permitted to develop a specialized gerontology program.

On campus, competition was keen among several colleges for ownership. In 1978, the former College of Home Economics became the first host of gerontology studies, but it wasnt until 1985 that a certificate program was approved by Virginia Tech. Graduate students from any discipline could earn a Gerontology Certificate by completing core courses and writing a thesis or dissertation on a gerontology topic.

Karen Roberto, center director, said the center is uniquely positioned to address issues facing an aging population. "The over-age-65 population is growing at unprecedented rates," she says. "In 2011 the first of the baby-boom generation will turn 65 and by 2030 there will be 70 million people aged 65 or older. Our educational programs prepare researchers, educators, and human service professionals for careers addressing the needs of older adults and improving their quality of life."

More than 60 faculty affiliates, representing seven colleges and 27 departments and units across campus, participate in gerontological research and scholarship, supervise the studies of students interested in aging, and provide information and programs to communities throughout Virginia and the nation.

The first Gerontology Certificate was awarded in 1986. After April 3, 2003, more than 90 certificates will have been awarded.