Santa Monica College (SMC) has been welcomed into the Age-Friendly University Global Network, a growing network of colleges and universities around the globe committed to becoming more age-inclusive in their programs and policies and that have also demonstrated this commitment in specific ways.
In Los Angeles, the Age-Friendly University (AFU) initiative is part of the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles partnership between the County and City of Los Angeles, other cities in the L.A. region, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the private sector, and higher education institutions including UCLA, USC, and California State University, Long Beach. The intent of this partnership is to make the Los Angeles region the most age-friendly in the world, and to prepare for the dramatic demographic shift set to occur by 2034 with older adults projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history
In a letter to SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Dublin City University President Dr. Daire Keogh—who leads the Age-Friendly University (AFU) global network, with 92 members currently—noted that “Santa Monica College’s commitment to ageing [is] reflected in its endorsement of the Ten Principles of an Age- Friendly Network [and] brings additional strength to the network.” Among the principles Keogh referred to were the promotion of personal and career development in the second half of life, a recognition of older adults’ educational needs, a promotion of intergenerational learning, widening access to online educational opportunities for older adults, and more.
“Santa Monica College has already richly embedded the Age-Friendly University principles through our commitment to educational equity and embracing streamlined guided pathways to help guide older adults to their academic and career goals faster, and by championing specific programs such as our Emeritus Program for older adults which serves more than 3,000 students annually, as well as our Noncredit program,” said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “Now through this network and by collaborating with partner institutions in Los Angeles and beyond, the college will seek to enhance age consciousness in how we evaluate our processes as we support a booming aging population regionally, while also supporting broad policy reform to create a more age-friendly world.”
The AFU initiative inspires institutions of higher education to identify their contributions to the interests and needs of an aging population, to:
· promote well-being and quality of life for older adults
· increase intergenerational opportunities for younger adults
· educate and train younger adults for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities within the “longevity economy”
· provide older adults the resources, tools, and skills necessary for careers in later life”
“Santa Monica College offers a wide variety of programs to meet the educational needs of every student, whether it is through our well-respected credit programs, our strong and growing noncredit programs (which have zero enrollment fees) or our amazing Emeritus program for older adults (which is also completely free),” said Scott Silverman, Dean of Noncredit & External Programs. “Through any of these programs, students can take classes that spark their imagination, cultivate the mind, and for noncredit and credit programs, prepare them for the next phase of their educational journey or career.”
Silverman noted that during Global Intergenerational Week (April 25 – May 1, 2022), the LA Area Age Friendly partners will be hosting an informational session on all of the many educational opportunities that exist for aging adults; the college will invite students to submit ideas for future intergenerational programming.
“About 35 percent of the headcount of SMC credit students are currently post-traditional students, that is, age 26 and up—and this does not include a sizeable number of students enrolled in Emeritus and other Noncredit programs,” Silverman added. “As such, this is a great time for SMC to join the Age Friendly University Global Network, since we have such a broad enrollment of post-traditional students!”
To learn more about the Age-Friendly University global network, Global Intergenerational Week (April 25 – May 1), and more, visit dcu.ie/agefriendly. For more information about SMC’s Emeritus Program, visit smc.edu/emeritus and for more information about the college’s noncredit program which offers free, short-term career development certificates (and more), go to smc.edu/noncredit.
Submitted by Grace Smith.