August 23, 2006

Center aims to connect older, younger generations

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is now headquarters for a statewide initiative designed to connect older and younger generations.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education provided $60,000 in start-up funding for the Center for Intergenerational Leadership. Other key sponsors include the State Universities Annuitants Association, University Presidents Council and Community College Presidents Council.

Director Jane Angelis, who works in the office of Seymour Bryson, SIUC's associate chancellor for diversity, said the center will continue efforts already under way to bring retirees from education, students and community members together to share concerns and develop recommendations designed to improve education at the primary, secondary and college/university levels.

The center also will promote partnerships among retirees and students to foster intergenerational ventures, particularly reading with young learners.

"The older population is increasing dramatically and presents a tremendous resource for education, as tutors, mentors and keepers of the wisdom and experience of a lifetime," she said. "The center will assist campuses statewide in creating plans for tapping the retiree resource. It also will find creative ways of involving the older generation on campuses as learners, volunteers and leaders who enrich the curriculum and the community."

One of the goals is to pair journalism students with retired or experienced journalists to learn more about interviewing, writing techniques and understanding the aging population and the issues it faces. Working with the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois High School Press Association, university schools of journalism and the Illinois College Press Association, an awards program will honor published articles and their authors for stories about generations working together.

"The center will facilitate the telling of the stories of intergenerational leadership, conduct innovative research and instigate connections between students and retirees in Illinois," Angelis said.

Pursuing leadership opportunities to address social, health and economic development issues is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.