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Cutting back does not mean UMass is eliminating gerontology study

I was pleased to see the Globe recognize the importance of academic programs around the study of aging and our growing elderly population (“Hub gerontology program suspended,” Metro, Feb. 4, and “Gerontology: Aging is a hard sell,” Editorial, Feb. 11).

The Globe is correct to characterize University of Massachusetts Boston’s gerontology programming as a pioneer and a leader in the nation. With limited resources and heightened fiscal scrutiny, however, public universities must make critical evaluations of under-enrolled programs. At UMass Boston this has led to the inactivation of the undergraduate gerontology program.

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But we don’t want anyone to confuse the need to make tough decisions with the elimination of an entire field of study. UMass Boston, among the first universities in the world to offer doctoral training in gerontology and the leading educator of PhDs in this field, continues its master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs in gerontology, as well as its master’s in management of aging services. And our Gerontology Institute and Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging continue to do groundbreaking research and policy development on issues affecting older people.

The number of retiring baby boomers swells each year, and the need for expertly trained professionals in gerontology grows with it. So how can we better attract undergraduate college students to take interest in and help meet this need? The university is working to answer this question.

Your coverage highlighted this challenge, while affirming the significant need, and opportunity.

Winston Langley

Provost

University of Massachusetts

Boston

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