University of Michigan. Institute of Gerontology

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Work on aging at the University of Michigan began under the auspices of the Institute for Human Adjustment. The nation's first adult education program for older people was begun in 1948 by Clark Tibbitts, then director of the institute. In 1951 the Board of Regents of the University created the Division of Gerontology as part of the Institute for Human Adjustment. Wilma Donahue, of the Psychological Clinic, was appointed the division's first chairperson. In 1965 the Michigan State Legislature passed House Bill No. 2748 to create the Institute of Gerontology (IoG), jointly sponsored by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Wilma Donahue and Lawrence Power were named co-directors.

In the enabling act, IoG's objectives were defined as: "developing new and improved programs for helping older people in [Michigan], for the training of persons skilled in working with the problems of the aged, for research related to the needs...of our aging population, and for conducting community service programs in the field of aging." To accomplish these objectives, the institute has worked closely with other units of the universities. The IoG offers short courses for in-service training, a curricula at the master's level, and seeks to attract doctoral students in several disciplines to specialize in gerontological problems.

At the outset, Wayne State and the University of Michigan took responsibility for different aspects of the institute's unitary plan. Wayne State emphasized medical and health related fields, while the University of Michigan concentrated on economic, social, employment/retirement, and educational areas. The University of Michigan's program is highlighted by several projects, among them the investigation of "milieu" therapy in the rehabilitation of geriatric mental hospital patients, the development of discussion programs for use in training community leaders to serve older persons, and stimulating the inclusion of gerontological content in the basic science and professional school curricula.

While the Institute of Gerontology has made many contributions to the nation's attitudes toward and programs for the elderly, its most visible program has been the series of annual conferences on aging which began in 1948 and ended in 1975. The conferences drew national audiences of 600 to 1300 persons who participated in workshops and listened to leading gerontologists present their most recent research findings. Many of the papers presented were published in the IoG's Occasional Papers series.

The IoG underwent considerable change in the early 1980s, beginning with the appointment of Richard Adelman as the UM co-director. Adelman shifted the IoG's focus from pedagogy and generally public-oriented programming to research. Conference activity was curtailed sharply and the continuing education program in geriatric education was rapidly phased out. The institute began to direct its attentions increasingly to multi-disciplinary research and formed alliances with a broad cross-section of UM departments, from architecture and music to medicine and biology. This approach proved difficult for some staff members, but ultimately resulted in the IoG being much more focused on research, preserving the institute's place on the leading edge of geriatric research.

The Institute of Gerontology is governed by a ten-member Executive Board. The board's members are appointed by the presidents of the two universities; in turn the board appoints the institute's co-directors. The size and composition of the institute has varied over time, depending as much on "soft" funds from individual grants as on the "hard" money provided by the parent universities. The two principle funding agencies have been the U.S. Administration on Aging and the Michigan Commission on Aging.

Co-Directors of the Institute of Gerontology

  • 1965 - 1969 : Wilma Donahue
  • 1969 - 1972 : Woodrow Hunter
  • 1972 - 1975 : Wayne Vasey
  • 1975 - 1982 : Harold Johnson
  • 1982 (acting): John E. Tropman
  • 1982 - : Richard Adelman
  • 1965 - 1972 : Lawrence Power
  • 1973 - : Charles Parrish

From the guide to the Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) Records, 1948-1987, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn University of Michigan. Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs (University of Michigan) records, 1947-[ongoing]. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Hunter, Woodrow Wilson, 1913-. Woodrow W. Hunter papers, 1947-1979. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Klaus F. Riegel Papers, 1955-1977 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Riegel, Klaus F., 1925-1977. Klaus F. Riegel papers, 1955-1977. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Woodrow W. Hunter Papers, 1947-1979 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs (University of Michigan). Staff Files, 1947--[ongoing] Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn WCBN (Radio station : Ann Arbor, Mich.). University of Michigan assorted publications, circa 1920s-2006 ( bulk 1970s-1990s) University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Donahue, Wilma T. (Wilma Thompson), 1900-. Wilma T. Donahue papers, 1945-1982 (bulk 1949-1982). University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Coons, Dorothy H. Dorothy H. Coons papers, 1936-1987, (bulk 1970-1983). University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Tibbitts, Clark, 1903-1985. Clark Tibbitts papers, 1936-1985. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University of Michigan. Institute of Gerontology. Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) records, 1948-1987. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Carnegie Corporation of New York. Aging Society Project (1982-1986) records, 1982-1986 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Carnegie Corporation of New York. Aging Society Project (1982-1986). Carnegie Corporation of New York, Aging Society Project records, 1982-1986. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Clark Tibbitts papers, 1926-1985 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs (University of Michigan) central files, 1947-2010 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Wilma T. Donahue Papers, 1945-1990, 1949-1982 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn University of Michigan assorted publications, ca. 1920-2010, 1970s-1990s Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) Records, 1948-1987 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs (University of Michigan) Supplemental Files, 1953-[ongoing] Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Carnegie Corporation of New York. Aging Society Project (1982-1986) corporateBody
associatedWith Conference on Aging. corporateBody
associatedWith Coons, Dorothy H. person
associatedWith Donahue, Wilma T. (Wilma Thompson), 1900- person
associatedWith Hunter, Woodrow Wilson, 1913- person
associatedWith Johnson, Harold R. person
associatedWith Johnson, Harold R. person
associatedWith Riegel, Klaus F., 1925-1977. person
associatedWith Sontag, Susan, 1933- person
associatedWith Tibbitts, Clark, 1903-1985. person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith Vasey, Wayne. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Aged
Aging
Gerontology
Retirement
Older people
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1948

Active 1987

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