As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, VCU Department of Gerontology eyes ending ageism

Linda Brown-Burton pauses to reflect on the poster presentations at the VCU Department of Gerontology’s 40th anniversary event. “The VCU Department of Gerontology illustrates their values through their mission statement,” Brown-Burton said. “They empower the knowledge of gerontology studies through the educational process.”

Linda Brown-Burton (M.S.’05/AHP) pauses to reflect on the poster presentations at the VCU Department of Gerontology’s 40th anniversary event. “The VCU Department of Gerontology illustrates their values through their mission statement,” Brown-Burton said. “They empower the knowledge of gerontology studies through the educational process.”

When Cathy Saunders (B.S.W.’76/SW;M.S.’82/AHP) graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a master’s degree in gerontology in 1982, most people she met had never heard of the discipline. “Some people would think it was geology,” the 62-year-old says.

Saunders is now the chair of the advisory board for the VCU Department of Gerontology, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in Carytown last Friday. More than 100 current students, alumni, faculty and staff attended the event, dubbed a “Day of Disruption.”

“The discipline emerged out of a medical model and we are now moving toward a more wellness-based model that is focused on the benefits of longevity, positive elderhood and recognizing that aging is a natural experience and not about disease and suffering like many people think it is,” said department chair E. Ayn Welleford, Ph.D.

The theme of the event alluded to one of the department’s primary goals: ending ageism.

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