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UNI receives federal grant to establish Iowa Center for Applied Gerontology

October 21, 2003

Julia Wallace, dean, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, (319) 273-2221
James O'Connor, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) has received a $322,888 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish the Iowa Center for Applied Gerontology at UNI. Funding for the project began Oct. 1, and will end on Sept. 30, 2004.

The center's goal is to increase the number of Iowa students interested in careers in gerontology -- the study of older adults.

'As the ratio of older adults increases, the need for non-medical caregivers and elder-friendly goods and services increases,' said Julia Wallace, CSBS dean. 'According to the U.S. Census, Iowa is tied for fourth place in the nation for the proportion of its citizens who are 65 or older. It ranks first for its proportion of citizens 85 and older.'

The grant will fuel research and outreach in three avenues: the Alliance of Gerontology Educators (AGE), teletraining, and business outreach.

'AGE will be created to provide a series of one-day workshops for community colleges and private colleges,' said Wallace. 'The goal will be to incorporate gerontology-related information and research into their curriculum.'

Teletraining will provide on-the-job training for people such as family services workers and communication disorder specialists through telephone conference calls. Seven to 12 sessions will take place during the year.

Business outreach will help chambers of commerce and businesspeople modify products and services to appeal to older adults.

'For instance, blues and greens are not discerned well by older eyes,' explained Wallace. 'This is important to know when designing product packaging or sales materials.'

UNI's gerontology program was established in 1979 as a 15-credit-hour certificate program. In 2002, it became the first bachelor of arts program in gerontology in the state. The Iowa Center for Applied Gerontology will be the only undergraduate program specializing in the study of older adults in the state.

For more information, contact Wallace at (319) 273-2221.