(Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

BC grad Jennie Chin Hansen honored

Nurse awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University

Boston College Connell School of Nursing graduate Jennie Chin Hansen, a nationally recognized advocate and thought leader regarding the health care needs of older adults, was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University at its Commencement ceremony held on May 23. Hansen, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, is believed to be the first nurse to be so honored by Harvard.

Hansen served as president of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) from 2008-2010, presiding over the organization during the years of Affordable Care Act health care debate and reform. She then was CEO for the American Geriatrics Society.

Honorary degree recipients (from left), Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez, Jennie Chin Hansen, Sylvester James Gate Jr., and Joy Harjo-Sapulpa attend the 373rd Harvard University Commencement Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Jennie Chin Hansen (standing) at Harvard University Commencement on May 23, 2024. (Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard University)

Hansen first made her professional mark in San Francisco at On Lok where she led an integrated, comprehensive program for older adults to receive medical and social services in the community rather than in a nursing home. That innovative initiative, Program of All-Inclusive Care to the Elderly (PACE), became a federal program available to states nationwide.

A past president of the American Society on Aging and a former member
of the U.S. Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, she continues her
work on issues important to older Americans, such as dementia, emergency
medicine, and health equity.

BC awarded Hansen an honorary Doctor of Nursing Science in 2008.

CSON Dean Katherine Gregory has described Hansen as “a distinguished nurse leader whose career has been deeply committed to health equity, care for the aging, and public health policy.”

Hansen was born and raised in Boston, the child of immigrants from China. She graduated from Boston College in 1970 and earned a M.S. in nursing from the University of California, San Francisco.

She has been presented with American Academy of Nursing’s Health Care Leader Award; American Society on Aging’s Hall of Fame Award; and the National Council on Aging’s Lifetime Achievement Award.