McDaniel College plans center to study aging

Foundation grant helps start courses for students, professionals

September 19, 2006|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,Sun Reporter

McDaniel College in Westminster plans to use a $150,000 grant to establish a Center for the Study of Aging that school officials say will help develop geriatric expertise for Carroll and neighboring counties where the elderly population is projected to see triple-digit increases by 2020.

Elderly populations are expected to grow by 123 percent in Carroll, 131 percent in Frederick County and 169 percent in Howard County, college officials said.

"The baby boomers are aging," college President Joan Develin Coley said yesterday. "We have to have access to that [expertise], and it's going to serve the community well."

The center would provide degree and continuing education opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, service providers, community leaders and policymakers, Coley said.

Through the program, students would participate in internships with local facilities for the elderly, such as the retirement communities Fairhaven in Sykesville and Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster.

"This is going to give more help to our seniors and give our students hands-on experience," Coley said.

Richard Steinberg, chief of Carroll County's Bureau of Aging, said the agency "welcomes anything that helps us to be able to work with our senior citizens.

"In many ways this will benefit not only the senior citizens but also those who care for them," said Steinberg, who added that the county is home to about 25,000 elderly residents.

Tom Falkner, the college provost, said the creation of the center reflects growing student interest in the field of gerontology as well as community need.

"We see our center as being distinctive in that it is being responsive to the community, the county and the region," Falkner said. "We really do look to service those health care professionals who are working in the industry and addressing their specific educational needs."

The $150,000 "startup" grant would maintain the center for about three years, during which time the program is expected to become self-supporting through tuition, Coley said. In addition to six gerontology courses already offered - last year, the school added a graduate-level gerontology certificate - the center will introduce four new courses during the next year to year and a half, she said.

The center, which will have a full-time director, plans to appoint a community-based advisory board of 10 to 15 people and adopt an evaluation plan to track and assess the effectiveness of the program, according to a statement the college released yesterday.

Falkner said the advisory board would help the college understand the needs of the elderly community and the educational needs of those who serve them. Coley said the board would include elderly residents.

McDaniel's grant comes from the Jessie Ball duPont Religious, Charitable and Educational Fund, a foundation that gives out $12 million to $18 million annually to institutions that were recipients of Jessie Ball duPont's philanthropy between Jan. 1, 1960, and Dec. 31, 1964, according to the foundation's Web site. She died in 1970.

Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the foundation makes grants to more than 300 organizations, including more than 40 colleges of liberal arts and sciences.

Coley said college officials have talked about establishing such a center for about a decade.

"I see this as an extension of the school's mission," she added. "The mission is to educate students. But the way this is an extension is we would be using an entire community as a part of that educational experience."

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