Skip to content

BC Will Be Resource for Geriatric Social Work

Ahearn Professor of Social Work James Lubben. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Apr. 25, 2013

Boston College will be the location for one of the first two Hartford Academic Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, providing leadership, education and other resources in an increasingly critical area of social work.

BC and the University of Michigan were selected as the inaugural Hartford Academic Centers of Excellence (ACE) by the Hartford/GSA National Center on Gerontological Social Work Excellence, which was established through a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in February.

The Hartford Academic Center of Excellence at BC will be led by James Lubben, the Louise McMahon Ahearn Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work and a leading scholar in social gerontology whose research focuses on social support networks among older populations. Lubben is director of the school's doctoral program and also heads the University's Institute on Aging.  Three aging research centers at BC are affiliated with the Institute on Aging, two of them housed at GSSW: the Sloan Center on Aging and Work and the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services, as well as the Carroll School of Management's Center for Retirement Research.

Each ACE is expected to provide leadership for social work educators; build bridges to local health professionals, such as those employed by agencies on aging; form regional consortia of social work field agencies serving older adults and their families that will address gaps in education and training on aging; and engage in inter-professional collaborations with other departments of the university, with other professional groups within the region, and with Hartford Centers of Excellence in medicine and nursing.

“Being identified as a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Center commits that university to exemplary leadership in training future generations of geriatric social work practitioners and faculty, as well as to leadership in the translation of new knowledge into policy and practice,” said GSA Fellow Barbara Berkman, who chairs the association’s national advisory board. “This association provides a recognizable brand that empowers these universities to serve as models that will motivate other universities to meet the standards required of being an identified center.”

The centers also will provide mentoring to Hartford-funded researchers based at the US Veterans Administration; create and evaluate training models that translate new knowledge into practice and policy; and seek additional support to sustain the social work centers.

"It is both an honor and a challenge to be named a Hartford Academic Center of Excellence,” said Lubben, who is founding director of the Hartford Doctoral Fellows Program in Geriatric Social Work, funded by the Hartford Foundation and administered by the GSA.  “The honor acknowledges the leadership GSSW faculty have provided, and are providing, in geriatric social work. The challenge is for GSSW to remain committed to that leadership in a rapidly changing environment.  Hartford ACEs are expected to continue their commitment to training social workers capable of enhancing the health and well-being of America's rapidly growing population of older adults."

GSSW Dean Alberto Godenzi added, “Being named a Hartford Academic Center of Excellence demonstrates our continued commitment to social work with older adults and their families. The Hartford Center at Boston College will provide new opportunities for the Graduate School of Social Work to share our expertise and engage the practice community.”