The Gerontology Center supports the core university functions of education, research, and service with regard to the needs of the older persons and those who serve them. In addition, the Gerontology Center links resources of the University of Colorado Springs (UCCS) in the area of aging to the needs and potentials of the larger surrounding community.
The Gerontology Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) was founded in 1984 by Dr. Robert P. Larkin, Professor in Geography. Initially the Gerontology Center offered classes to older adult learners in the Colorado Springs area. Soon the educational program was expanded to include the courses for the academic certificate in Gerontology. From the beginning, the Gerontology Center has been the effort of multiple academic disciplines (e.g., biology, geography, psychology, sociology) and has involved a group of committed faculty members who share a scientific interest in the aging process. This tradition has been and is continued under the leadership of the current director, Dr. Sara Qualls, Kraemer Family Professor of Aging Studies, and is strengthened by the addition of the Beth-El School of Nursing to UCCS.
The Gerontology Center administers the minor in gerontology, as well as a continuing education certificate (CEC) Professional Advancement Certificate in Gerontology, for community residents who are interested in learning more about aging. Both programs provide a combination of academic and applied knowledge useful to persons working the field of gerontology. The Gerontology Center also supports the Ph.D. in Psychology with Specialization in Clinical Gerontology.
Faculty affiliates of the Gerontology Center conduct applied research in different domains of gerontology. For example, faculty in the Department of Biology at UCCS conduct research on plant aging and on nutritional supplementation in older adults with joint pain. Faculty in the Department of Psychology conduct research on age-related changes in learning, memory, problem solving, brain functioning, personality, mental health, and families. Some of these research studies are conducted with financial support from national institutes, regional agencies, or intramural funds. The ongoing research studies provide an excellent "training ground" for undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in adult development and aging.
The Gerontology Center also provides a variety of services to the surrounding community of Colorado Springs and other communities in El Paso county. These services include, in-service education to staff in long-term care facilities, technical assistance, workshops, co-sponsorship of an annual geriatric health conference, and assistance with applied research projects. Faculty affiliates of the Gerontology Center regularly make themselves available for presentations and consultation in the community.
A Curriculum Grants Program encourages faculty from all academic disciplines at UCCS to apply for a grant to update their courses incorporating topics related to the changing age structure of the larger society into their curriculum. This program is designed in the spirit gerontological knowledge is truly multidisciplinary in nature and, therefore, should be incorporated in as many academic disciplines as possible.
Travel stipends are available to faculty and students who present their work on aging at regional and national conferences. This program is designed to increase the visibility on the aging-related research conducted at UCCS and permits faculty and students to interact with colleagues across the nation.
A Research Seminar Series gives faculty and students at UCCS the opportunity to share their research with all interested members of the campus and the larger community. Twice a year this series also brings in nationally renowned researchers in the field of gerontology who present their latest work to faculty, students and the interested public.
Colorado is one of three states within the U.S. with the fastest growing population of older adults. Moreover, the city of Colorado Springs has increasingly become a place where older adults decide to retire and to live an important part of their life. As these developments continue and as the region and state move into a new millennium, the Gerontology Center at UCCS will play a crucial role in linking the work and interests of researchers and practitioners in gerontology with the needs and potentials of the surrounding community and the state.