Rosemary Blieszner, associate director of the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech, has been installed as president of the Gerontological Society of America, the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging.
Blieszner was elected by GSA’s membership, which consists of more than 5,500 researchers, educators, practitioners, and other professionals. She assumed this yearlong position at GSA’s recent Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans. She is the 70th person to hold the office since the society was founded in 1945.
As president, she will oversee matters of governance and strategic planning while managing the program for GSA’s 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting. She has chosen “Making Connections: From Cells to Societies” as the theme for this conference, which will be in Washington, D.C., from Nov. 5 to 9.
“GSA members conduct important research, teach about aging, provide services to older people and their families, and advocate for older adults in many arenas,” Blieszner said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to help cultivate productive new connections among GSA members and between GSA and other groups working to improve the quality of life in old age.”
At Virginia Tech, Blieszner is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development and associate dean of the Graduate School in addition to her position with the Center for Gerontology. Her research focuses on family and friend relationships, life events, and psychological wellbeing in adulthood and old age. She has studied the contributions of spirituality to resiliency and how families cope with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment in an old relative.
“Rosemary is a recognized leader in our field, and we look forward to working with her to advance innovation in aging during 2014,” said James Appleby, GSA’s executive director and chief executive. “Her expertise will be a valuable asset in furthering gerontological research, education, and practice.”
Blieszner is coeditor of “Older Adult Friendship: Structure and Process” (Sage, 1989), “Handbook of Aging and the Family” (Greenwood, 1995), and “Handbook of Families and Aging” (second edition, Praeger, 2012); and coauthor of “Adult Friendship” (Sage, 1992), “Spiritual Resiliency in Older Women: Models of Strength for Challenges through the Life Span” (Sage, 1999), and “Spiritual Resiliency and Aging: Hope, Relationality, and the Creative Self” (Baywood, 2012). From 2008 to 2011, she was the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. She also is author of numerous journal articles.
She received her Ph.D. from Penn State University in human development-family studies with an emphasis in adult development and aging. Blieszner is a Fellow of GSA, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, the American Psychological Association (Division 20), and the National Council on Family Relations. She is a previous recipient of Virginia Tech’s Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, and in 2002 she was named an alumni distinguished professor, a position held by 10 faculty members at the university.