AGHE Awards - Clark Tibbitts Award

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Clark Tibbitts (1903 - 1985)

Clark Tibbitts was an architect of the field of gerontological education - an academic who spent most of his career in the federal government as an advocate for the development of aging education, training, and research programs in institutions of higher education. Tibbitts was the director of the Institute for Human Adjustment at the University of Michigan for 12 years before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1949 to serve as an specialist in aging with the agency that preceded the U.S. Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare, and Health and Human Services. He retired in 1983 as the special assistant to the U.S. Commissioner on Aging after 35 years of government service.

During those three decades, his contributions and accomplishments were many, including the following: he directed the 1950 National Conference on Aging and helped develop the 1961 White House Conference on Aging; chaired the HEW Committee on Aging and Geriatrics in the early 1950s; founded the Administration on Aging (AoA); and founded and directed AoA's Education and Training Program and its National Clearinghouse on Aging.

He played a major role in planning, organizing, and convening many international conferences on aging from the 1950's through the 1980's. He authored more than 100 publications; the most notable, undoubtedly, was the Handbook of Social Gerontology: Societal Aspects of Aging, which for a decade was the principal textbook on aging.

Clark Tibbitts died in October 1985 at age 82, leaving a legacy of accomplishments in academic institutions throughout the world. Through a combination of personal friendships and professional expertise, he fostered a federal commitment to the improvement of the lives of older persons through the development and growth of hundreds of academic gerontology programs.

The Clark Tibbitts Award

The AGHE award was established in 1980 to recognize those individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of gerontology as a field of study in institutions of higher education. In 1985, AGHE's Executive Committee renamed the AGHE award the Clark Tibbitts Award to recognize the major role that Tibbitts played in establishing and nurturing the field of gerontological education.

In addition, Tibbitts was key in establishing the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education. Tibbitts and colleague Wilma Donahue (University of Michigan) were the first recipients of the AGHE award in 1981.

Purpose of the Award

This award, named for an architect of the field of gerontological education, is given by AGHE each year to an individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of gerontology and/or geriatrics education.

The awardee receives an engraved plaque and delivers a lecture at the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting.

Submission Period

Spring 2024

Eligibility Criteria 

  • Nominees must have made a national impact on gerontology and/or geriatrics education, have had significant involvement in gerontology and/or geriatrics education, and have advanced the goals and mission of the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.
  • Affiliated with an AGHE institution or GSA member with AGHE designated as a primary or secondary section.

Nomination Process

Required Nomination Packet Materials

  • A single nomination letter signed by at least 3 supporters. 
  • A current Curriculum Vitae

Nature of the Award

The awardee receives an engraved plaque and delivers a lecture at the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting.

Past Recipients

2022 Laura K.M. Donorfio | The University of Connecticut
2021 Karthryn Hyer | University of South Florida
2020 Jan Abushakrah | Portland Community College
2019 David C. Burdick | Stockton University
2018 Marilyn R. Gugliucci | University of New England
2017 JoAnn Damron-Rodriguez | University of California, Los Angeles
2016 Case Western Reserve University
2015 Suzanne R. Kunkel | Miami University
2014 Harry "Rick" Moody | AARP
2013 Marie A. Bernard | National Institute on Aging/National Institute of Health
2012 John A. Krout | Ithaca College
2011 Edward F. Ansello | Virginia Commonwealth University
2010 Frank J. Whittington | George Mason University
2009 Larry Polivka | University of South Florida
2008 Leonard W. Poon | University of Georgia
2007 Robert Binstock | Case Western Reserve University
2006 William J. McAuley | George Mason University
2005 Sally Newman | University of Pittsburgh
2004 Jon Hendricks | Oregon State University
2003 Phoebe Liebig | University of Southern California
2002 Stephen Cutler | University of Vermont
2001 Bernice Parlak | Health Resources and Services Administration
2000 Carroll Estes | University of California, San Francisco
1999 Armin Grams | University of Vermont
1998 James H. Schulz | Brandeis University
1997 Scott A. Bass | University of Maryland, Baltimore County
1996 Tom Hickey | University of Michigan
1995 E. Percil Stanford | San Diego State University
1994 Harvey L. Sterns | The University of Akron
1993 David A. Peterson | University of Southern California
1992 Joseph Britton | The Pennsylvania State University
1991 Harold Johnson | University of Michigan
1990 Midwest Council for Social Research in Aging
1989 Wayne Vasey | University of South Florida
1988 Dorothy Coons | University of Michigan
1987 George Maddox | Duke University
1986 *Walter Beattie | Syracuse University
1985 Mildred Seltzer | Miami University
1984 Hiram Friedsam | University of North Texas
1983 James Birren | University of Southern California
1982 Robert Havighurst | University of Chicago
1981 Clark Tibbitts | Administration on Aging & Wilma Donahue | University of Michigan
* renamed to Clark Tibitts Award

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