Faculty Senate to vote on gerontology degree


Tiffany Herring/Iowa State Daily

Rob Wallace, chairman of academic affairs, presents a potential graduate and master’s of philosophy degree in gerontology during the Faculty Senate meeting on March 11 in the Memorial Union. Final voting on the program will take place on April 8 during the senate meeting.

Kelsey Bruggeman

Faculty discussed creating a graduate and master’s of philosophy degree in gerontology — the study of aging — at the Faculty Senate meeting March 11.

The program was designed along the guidelines for doctoral programs in gerontology prepared by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE).

Courses would include lessons such as psychological issues, health aspects and research methods to give students a rounded education.

Rob Wallace, chairman of academic affairs, presented the possible doctorate and master’s degree proposition to the senate.

“I certainly hope that we pass this. For those of us who have seen this proposal multiple times, this gerontology thing is getting old,” Wallace laughed.

The new degree will not require any additional faculty, facilities or equipment.

It is projected that $11,380 will be needed from the College of Human Sciences to support the new program.

The university currently offers a gerontology undergraduate minor, graduate minor and participates in an online master’s degree and certificate program. The new doctoral and master program would strengthen all of these, according to a letter written to Jennifer Margrett, director of the gerontology program.

The proponents of the program wrote in the letter to the Faculty Senate reasons why the new major would be beneficial.

“Caring for this increasing number of older adults presents challenges of both cost and ‘manpower.’ It will take technology and innovation and new multidisciplinary solutions are required. Iowa State University is particularly well-positioned to offer such collaboration across departments reflecting basic, applied, behavioral and technological science expertise.”

The presented letter went on to say, “All but three of the required courses are already available through either existing on-campus courses or Great Plains IDEA system offerings.”

The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance is a service that provides online programs for graduate and undergraduate students.

Support from local organizations has been prominent throughout the process of getting the bill to Faculty Senate.

Aging Resources of Central Iowa gave their opinion in a letter to Margrett, saying, “Currently, no master’s or doctoral program in Gerontology exists at the other Regent’s institutions. The time is right for such advanced academic programs to produce leadership needed to meet the challenges of our diverse aging population.”

Faculty on campus have also expressed their views.

“The proposed programs will provide innovative academic experiences that engage and challenge students to learn, grow and succeed,” said Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences, in a recommendation letter.

Members from the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa and Des Moines Area Community College have also shown support for the proposed graduate program.

Elaine Eshbaugh, associate professor of gerontology at UNI, said in a recommendation letter, “I wholeheartedly believe that these programs will be an asset to Iowa’s aging population and will fill a void for students wanting to study aspects of later life development at the graduate level.”

Final voting will take place April 8 at the Faculty Senate Meeting.