By Cheryl J. Dye, PhD, Director of the Institute
The proposal to establish an Institute for Engaged Aging was approved by the Clemson University Board of Trustees in October, 2006. The seeds for the Institute were sown in 2001 by College of Health, Education and Human Development faculty who began developing the idea for a gerontology research center. At the community living niche area meeting hosted by the Provost in 2003, the HEHD gerontology researchers joined other researchers from across campus to form a campus-wide team. This team eventually grew to consortium status as the Gerontology Research Interdisciplinary Team (GRIT). Although GRIT was composed of faculty from all five colleges, the College of HEHD provided the infrastructure support and continues to support the new Institute.
The Institute is an active partner with many coalitions and institutions including the South Carolina Aging Research Network (SCARN), which includes Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC) members, and the newly approved Center for Economic Excellence called SeniorSMART. SeniorSMART represents a single integrated approach to the application of new technologies and strategies for independent living which will be fueled by the research driven by three Endowed Chairs in the areas of home technologies (“Smart Home”), cognitive enhancement (“Sharp Brain”), and Senior Driving, Mobility, and Physical Functioning. The “Sharp Brain” and “Smart Home” Chairs will be housed at the University of South Carolina and Palmetto Health. The Chair of Senior Driving, Mobility and Physical Functioning will be shared between Clemson University and Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center with an academic home with the Institute.