FVSU to offer minor program in gerontology

An elderly couple holding hands.

June 12, 2015 – Fort Valley State University has created a new minor degree program designed to produce professionals tasked with helping with the needs of record-setting elderly population in the United States. Starting fall 2015, the university will offer a minor degree program in gerontology.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Report, “An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States,” the elderly population aged 65 and over is projected to more than double to 83.7 million by 2050.

Dr. Komanduri Murty, professor of sociology and chair of the behavioral sciences department, who will lead the new minor program, said the goals and objectives for the new minor include:
• to provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the different aspects of the aging process;
• to provide students with an opportunity to connect between learning about aging and working with older adults in the community; and
• to equip students with knowledge that enables them to pursue a career in the growing field of gerontology
The idea for the new program was started by Dr. Jessica Bailey, interim president for FVSU, who received information about a Feb. 25, 2015, Georgia House resolution 304 calling for more academic study of dementia and other age-related issues. The state’s elderly population is increasing four times faster than the younger population. Between 2010 and 2030, the elderly population is expected to expand by 65.8 percent.

“Dr. Bailey encouraged the development of a gerontology major program, since it provides a tremendous opportunity for FVSU. Dr. Uppinder Mehan, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, recommended that we seize the opportunity and move immediately to establish a minor. By instituting an academic minor program at the undergraduate level, we will be in the forefront of the remaining institutions, because no other USG institution, to our knowledge, has an undergraduate program in Gerontology at present,” Murty said.

Murty says the program expects to enroll five to 10 students during its first semester. To earn a minor in gerontology, students are required to earn 15 semester hours with a minimum grade of C in each course.

Students will have six, three-hour courses to choose from on Aging and Health, Social Policy and Aging, Mental Well-Being and Aging, Diversity and Aging, Death and Dying, and Contemporary Issues in Aging.

“Students who receive a minor in gerontology will gain an understanding regarding issues related to the aging process, including the biological, psychological and social aspects of adult development and aging,” Murty said.

Murty says once students earn the minor, they can pursue employment opportunities as adult educators focusing on continuing education and career development, elder law advocates, geriatric care managers, or housing specialists focusing on the needs of older adults. They can also become long-term care administrators, occupational, physical and speech therapists focusing on the needs of older adults. Other career opportunities available to them are physician’s assistant, geriatric clinician, public relations specialists, recreation therapist/activities, director in a long-term care facility, or retirement counselor.

“Students that attend the program will enhance their knowledge base and learning skills,” Murty said. The professor said the degree program will provide students with knowledge that can be applied the real world situations, and feel confident that the skills they learn within the degree program will enhance their employability upon graduation.”

Murty says they hope to expand the minor degree program in the future.

“Our ultimate goal is to let this gerontology minor evolve into a full-fledged degree program,” Murty said. “We will continue to assess our course offerings and develop new ones that are relevant to the contemporary social world, complimentary to other institutions, and enhance potential for employment upon graduation. The experience that we gain over next few years will lead us in that direction.”

Mehan said the new gerontology minor program was made possible through the collaborative support of faculty and administration.

“The quick development of the gerontology minor showcases how agile FVSU can be when administrators and faculty are on the same page,” said Mehan,. “We could all see that the citizens and students of Georgia would be well-served by such a program, and we acted on it.”

For details, contact Murty at (478) 825-6624 or e-mail murtyk@fvsu.edu.

Contact:

Christina D. Milton, writer/Social Media Specialist
Fort Valley State University
Office of Marketing and Communications
(478) 822-7589, miltonc@fvsu.edu