Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) Records

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Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) Records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Institute of Gerontology (University of Michigan) Records collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Interdisciplinary institute at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University for the study of aging. Records include administrative files relating to the activities, research, publications and conferences of the Institute's University of Michigan program; audio-visual material, and photographs.

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.

Please note:

Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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