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Center on Aging

History

Originally named the Center for Studies on Aging, the Center was formed to meet the needs of a growing segment of the population in South Carolina and to reallocate existing and develop new resources in this field. In anticipation of rising costs and the growing number of elderly in the population, policies affecting future health and medical care of the elderly needed to be addressed.

It was formed in December 1987 after the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved the Center proposal. The Trustees of MUSC had previously approved the proposal in their meeting of August 14, 1987.

Funding

The Center was started with a one million dollar endowment from Dr. William McKnight to Dr. Edwin Boyle with instructions that the money should be used for aging-related positions. Over the years, the endowment grew to 3 million dollars and it was divided into three separate chairs in the Department of Internal Medicine. No additional funding was requested from the University in order to start the Center.

The Center was based in the College of Medicine and its original purpose was to “marshal University, community, state and federal resources that will contribute to distinctive education, research, public service, and patient care programs serving the elderly” (quoted from the original proposal). It was proposed that the Center would have two divisions:

  1. The Division of Geriatrics which would have sections of patient care and biomedical research on aging.
  2. The Division of Aging Policy and Education, which would have sections of public policy research, and education (didactic and experiential).

The Center was proposed to relate to the various colleges of the University through the advisory University Gerontology Committee with the Chair in Gerontology being appointed as Center Medical Director. It was also proposed to be a non-degree granting entity. Programs of instruction emerging from the Center’s efforts would follow the taxonomy of the primary sponsoring college.

Original vision of the Center:
“The Center shall serve to insure and support an improved quality of life for the State’s rapidly expanding elderly population through programs of teaching, research, public service, and patient care”.

Continued Approval

In 1991-1992, the Commission on Higher Education undertook an evaluation of all centers, bureaus, and institutes at MUSC. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the accomplishments of the units as measured against the goals and objectives approved by the Commission. The Center for Studies on Aging was once again approved to continue, provided that the committee reauthorize each unit within a year of submission of a required report (due date for this Center was 6/1/94).

  • At that time, the Center for Studies on Aging had no economic life of its own, thus no budget was provided from MUSC. Rather, it was the charge of Center participants to funnel geriatric activities within MUSC and beyond.
  • In 1997, then Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost of MUSC, Dr. Ray Greenberg, developed an MUSC Advisory Board of Gerontology and Geriatrics. The advisory board created a document summarizing the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities for improvement in gerontology and geriatrics at MUSC.
  • A budget of $250,000 annually for 5 years was established for the Center by the MUSC Provost’s office. Annual reviews of the budget and progress of Center activities were to be performed by the Provost as well as by internal and external advisory committees.

Early Accomplishments

It was determined that the Center should become a campus-wide resource center by involving other colleges at MUSC. At that time, Dr. Jerry Kurent was acting director of the Center and the primary objectives for the Center in 1997-99 were focused on outreach, end of life care, and geriatrics education at MUSC.

A major accomplishment of the Center was that Dr. Lina Obeid was recruited from Duke University as a Boyle-McKnight Chair in Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine in 1997/98, hence strengthening both the basic science and the clinical component of Center activities significantly.

Leadership

The first Center Director was Dr. Allen Johnson, Professor and Chair of the Division of Gerontology in the Department of Medicine. Following Dr. Johnson, Dr. Allan Smith served as Director for the Center until his death in 1997 when Dr. Jerome Kurent assumed the role of acting Director. At this time, the advisory board recommended that a national search for a permanent Center Director take place and this search was initiated in 1998.

The national search for a Center Director was unsuccessful and in the fall of 2000, an internal search for a Center Director was conducted within MUSC. As a result of that search, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Lotta Granholm-Bentley as Director for the Center on Aging in May of 2001. Her term as Director began July 1, 2001, and was approved for 5 years with a 3-year progress review. The Center recruited Dr. Lina Obeid as the second Boyle-McKnight Chair in Geriatrics in 1998 and its name was changed from “Center for Studies on Aging” to “Center on Aging” in December of 2001. A business plan was written by the Center on Aging executive committee and presented to the University in Spring of 2002. Since then, annual reports and 5 years renuwal of the business plan have been produced and funding for the Center on Aging at MUSC has increased ten fold.

 
 
 

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