Ekerdt Earns GSA’s 2020 Donald P. Kent Award

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2020

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen David J. Ekerdt, PhD, FGSA, of the University of Kansas as the 2020 recipient of the Donald P. Kent Award.

This distinguished honor is given annually to a GSA member who best exemplifies the highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society. It was established in 1973 in memory of Donald P. Kent, PhD, for his outstanding leadership in translating research findings into practical use.

The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 4 to 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process. Visit www.geron.org/2020 for further details.

Ekerdt is a professor of sociology and formerly the director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas. He had previous positions at the university’s Medical Center, at the Boston VA Normative Aging Study, at Boston University School of Medicine, and at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

His funded studies of work and retirement, aging and material culture, and behavioral expectations for later life have resulted in 100+ articles, chapters, reviews, editorials, and edited books. He was editor-in-chief of the four-volume Macmillan Encyclopedia of Aging.

Ekerdt’s work is both theoretically and methodologically sophisticated, but also addresses practical issues of importance for the lives of older Americans. In 2020, he published “Downsizing: Confronting Our Possessions in Later Life,” a book that addresses the meaning and management of possessions. He details how households approach and accomplish downsizing, exploring the decision-making process and the effectiveness of different strategies.

Ekerdt served as GSA’s president in 2018; has been a member since 1975 and a fellow since 1988. He recently played a leadership role in restructuring GSA’s governance. Ekerdt previously served as editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences; as member and chair of GSA’s Publications Committee; and on task forces exploring electronic and contract publishing. He has been chair of GSA’s Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) Section, plus other committee service for BSS. He also has chaired the Aging and Life Course Section of the American Sociological Association. And at the American Society on Aging, he has been member and chair of the Generations Editorial Board.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational section, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.