Elder Care Expert Is Appointed to Ahearn Chair

Elder Care Expert Is Appointed to Ahearn Chair

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

James Lubben, a leading researcher in gerontological social work with expertise on social support networks for elderly populations, has been appointed as inaugural holder of the Louise McMahon Ahearn University Chair in Social Work at Boston College. He will formally join the BC Graduate School of Social Work faculty in July.

James Lubben.
Lubben is currently a professor of social welfare and urban planning at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Policy and Social Research, where he has taught for 20 years.

"Dr. Lubben is an internationally acclaimed scholar in the fields of gerontology and social support systems," said GSSW Dean Alberto Godenzi. "He has a tremendous record of scholarly publications and securing external funding. I am very pleased that we found such a distinguished scholar for the first GSSW endowed chair."

The Ahearn Chair was established through a gift of $2.5 million by University Trustee Jack Connors Jr. '63 and Eileen Ahearn Connors '66, who earned a master's degree from GSSW in 1995. The chair is named for Eileen Connors' mother.

"It is a great honor to become the first holder of the Louise Ahearn Chair and I am excited at the prospect of joining the faculty at the Graduate School of Social Work," said Lubben. "BC offers keen opportunities for my continued professional growth and I plan to provide leadership in training the next generation of social work scholars and practitioners.

"I also plan to continue my own research on factors that contribute to enhancing vitality in old age and to cultivate the next generation of leaders in gerontological education, research and practice drawn from the stellar pool of BC students. I am very thankful for the opportunity to join the BC team of scholars and look forward to sharing my international and cross-cultural perspectives on health and social work with students and faculty colleagues."

Lubben, former associate dean and director of the Social Welfare program at UCLA, has actively promoted the development of both gerontology and social work by serving as a principal investigator or collaborator on more than $20 million of research and training grants.

He is the national director of the Hartford Doctoral Fellows Program in Geriatric Social Work, funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation of New York City and administered by the Gerontological Society of America. He also serves on the National Program Advisory Board for the Hartford Faculty Scholars Program.

Lubben served for four terms - a total of 12 years - on the congressionally mandated National Advisory Committee on Gerontology and Geriatrics for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

His major research agenda examines social support networks among older populations, and he has developed an abbreviated social network scale for research and clinical use. He was co-principal investigator on a Health Care Financing Administration clinical trial evaluating the benefits of health promotion for Medicare elderly persons. Lubben directed the social intervention phase of the study that screened participants for depression, social isolation and alcohol abuse.

Many of his studies involve cross-cultural and cross-national comparisons. He was the principal investigator on a National Institute of Aging longitudinal panel study of social supports and long-term care among older Korean Americans. Lubben was also co-principal investigator on studies of Japanese and Chinese American elderly in Los Angeles and comparable surveys in Japan, China and Hong Kong.

His publications include Elderly Chinese in Pacific Rim Countries - Social Support and Integration, which he wrote with Iris Chi and Neena Chappell, and essays co-authored with M. Gironda that are to appear in Social Work and Health Care in an Aging World: Informing Education, Policy, Practice, and Research Encyclopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion.

Lubben earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Connecticut, and holds a master's degree in public health and a doctoral degree in social work from the University of California at Berkeley.

He has been a visiting scholar in Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and most recently served as a visiting professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.


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