By way of background, I received my M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and my B.A. from Dartmouth College, all in sociology. I began my teaching career at Oberlin College (1969-1984) and then came to the University of Vermont in 1984 as Professor of Sociology and the Bishop Robert F. Joyce Distinguished University Professor of Gerontology. Along the way, I’ve also taught at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan, and the University of Bucharest.
There have been three main threads to my recent research. First, along with UVM colleague Nick Danigelis and Melissa Hardy at Penn State, I have been examining cohort changes in social and political attitudes. This work, which was published in the October, 2007 issue of the American Sociological Review, asks whether aging is associated with attitudinal rigidity or with a shift toward more conservative attitudes as stereotypes suggest. Second, Lynne Hodgson (from Quinnipiac University) and I have been studying a phenomenon we call “anticipatory dementia,” the concern among middle age persons that common cognitive lapses are an early warning signal of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. And, third, I’ve been interested in the life course implications of a short-lived but very dramatic increase in the size of the cohorts born in Romania toward the end of the 1960s.
Major publications include (co-author) Middle Start: An Experiment in the Educational Enrichment of Young Adolescents (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), (co-editor) Major Social Issues: A Multidisciplinary View (New York: The Free Press, 1978), (co-editor) Promoting Successful and Productive Aging (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1995), and (Associate Editor) Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences (San Diego: Academic Press, 2006, 6th ed. and 2011, 7th ed.). At various times, my research has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Alzheimer's Association.
My professional activities have included terms as President of the Gerontological Society of America (1998), as a Vice-President and Chair of the Society’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Section (1987), as Chair of the (then) Sociology of Aging Section of the American Sociological Association (1994), and as Editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences (1990-1993). I’ve been a recipient of the Clark Tibbitts Award (2002) from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and have served as a Petersen Visiting Scholar at Oregon State University (2002) and twice as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Bucharest in Romania (2004 and 2011-212). I will also return to the University of Bucharest in October, 2015 under the auspices of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program.