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Lasell is First Massachusetts College to Join Age-Friendly University Initiative

September 18, 2015

Lasell College has strengthened its commitment to intergenerational exchange and lifelong learning by joining the Age-Friendly University Initiative, an international effort led by leaders at Dublin City University to highlight the role higher education can play in responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with an aging population.

Launched in 2012 by Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dublin City University (DCU) President Brian MacCraith, the initiative involves several colleges and universities internationally including Arizona State University and Strathclyde University in Scotland.

Lasell, which sponsors the RoseMary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies, is the first Massachusetts college or university to join the initiative. Lasell College is also home to Lasell Village, a continuing care retirement community with an educational requirement for its residents.

"Communities local and globally are responding to the call for more age-friendly living environments that better reflect our contemporary aging population. A critical component that's been missing in these efforts is the involvement of higher education," said Fuss Center Director and Professor Joann Montepare.

Montepare added that by joining the initiative, Lasell and the Fuss Center can raise awareness and educate the undergraduate population about aging issues and build curriculum to support an increasing age-diverse population. The principles also provide a guiding framework for broaden opportunities for older learners to access higher education in their pursuit of life-long learning.

"I am delighted to welcome Lasell College to the family of Age-Friendly Universities around the world. It is highly significant that Lasell is the first university in the state of Massachusetts to join this important global movement. We look forward to welcoming colleagues from the Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies to the first global conference for Age-Friendly Universities in Dublin in November," said Dublin City University (DCU) President Brian MacCraith.

Lasell's Fuss Center recently hosted the "Talk of Ages Summit" that involved more than 100 educators and community partners, including Lasell Village, who gathered this past summer to explore a vision for aging education and age-friendly campuses.

"Lasell's endorsement of the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Principles reflects the value it places on these efforts, and we hope it will serve as a catalyst for other institutions to reflect on how they can be more age-friendly," Montepare said.

The AFU Principles reflect a good deal of what was discussed at the Summit and the many efforts that are in motion or percolating at other institutions in Massachusetts, she added.

The Age-Friendly University Principles are:
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 (from those who were early school-leavers through to those who wish to pursue Master's or PhD qualifications).
4. To promote intergenerational learning 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.

For more information about the Age Friendly University Initiative, visit the website.

For additional information about the Fuss Center, visit the webpage.