February 19, 2019

Purdue joins the Age-Friendly University Global Network

Purdue University has become Indiana’s first member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network, an international group of higher education institutions that addresses the needs of older adults and focuses on the challenges presented by the aging population. 

The network was launched in 2012 by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Professor Brian MacCraith of Dublin City University and now includes over 40 member institutions across the globe.

Purdue is also the first member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network from the Big Ten Conference.

Purdue was selected as a member because of its commitment to aging, which was reflected in “the breadth of activities and interdisciplinary research,” MacCraith, president of the network, wrote in Purdue’s acceptance letter.

Purdue’s Center on Aging and the Life Course, directed by Kenneth Ferraro, distinguished professor of sociology, was highlighted as an example of Purdue’s commitment to older adults in Purdue’s proposal for membership. The center involves faculty from more than 20 departments and is dedicated to aging-related research and education.

About 43 percent of Purdue staff and 51 percent of tenure track faculty are the age of 50 or older. Nearly 51 percent of the alumni population is 50 or older.

“Purdue strives to be an inclusive community, but age is often unrecognized as an axis of diversity.  Membership in the Age-Friendly University Global Network is intended to provide older adults with the opportunity to participate in various facets of university life.” Ferraro said. “It is a sign of Purdue’s leadership to integrate older people into higher education and research as well as a call to enhance the experience of older employees, students, alumni and guests.”

In becoming an age-friendly university, Purdue endorses 10 principles that will provide guidance for Purdue’s age-friendly programs and policies.

1.   To encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including educational and research programs.

2.   To promote personal and career development in the second half of life and to support those who wish to pursue second careers.

3.   To recognize the range of educational needs of older adults.

4.   To promote intergenerational learning in order to facilitate the reciprocal sharing of expertise between learners of all ages.

5.   To widen access to online educational opportunities for older adults to ensure a diversity of routes to participation.

6.    To ensure that the university’s research agenda is informed by the needs of an aging society and to promote public discourse on how higher education can better respond to the varied interests and needs of older adults.

7.    To increase the understanding of students of the longevity dividend and the increasing complexity and richness that aging brings to our society.

8. To enhance access for older adults to the university’s range of health and wellness programs and its arts and cultural activities.

9. To engage actively with the university’s own retired community.

10. To ensure regular dialogue with organizations representing the interests of the aging population.

“I am grateful to Distinguished Professor Ken Ferraro for his foresight and leadership as director of the Center on Aging and the Life Course,” said David Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts. “His work through the years to better understand the aging experience and support older adults aligns Purdue with the tenets of the Age-Friendly University Global Network. As our population ages, embracing more age-friendly programs promises a richer experience across the generations that make up our campus community.”

Writer: Abbey Nickel, 765-496-1325, nickela@purdue.edu 

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