Welcome to CEAH
I write this on the cusp of the five-year anniversary of the founding of the UNE Center for Excellence in Aging and Health. We recently marked this occasion with a research symposium that featured projects and collaborations across these formative years.
My 2018 vision for the CEAH largely came to pass despite the shocking death and disruption of a global pandemic. I sought to create a “high touch” center without walls — inherently intergenerational in nature — which would create resources and facilitate pathways for applied scholarship and impactful learning on healthful aging.
I am proud to say we did it!
By “we” I mean the dozens of faculty and professional staff members, hundreds of students of all types, hundreds of our Legacy Scholars (i.e., adults 55+ who give generously in support of our applied mission), and dozens of community partners, individual and organizational, who joined to create what the CEAH is today and will be tomorrow.
Tomorrow is fraught with challenges and opportunities. Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents both and, if stewarded responsibly, holds the potential to enhance aging and health trajectories for wide swaths of humanity. Climate Change holds similar potential but with less hopeful trajectories for healthful aging. Both foster understandable — and I would say necessary — anxieties. I imagine that many today are asking “How will I and my offspring grow old on this tiny planet?"
This question comes to my mind with some regularity today. I choose to be hopeful and positive about this as-yet unwritten future. I see the positive powers of human generosity and collaboration in my work and home life. Our history tells us that dire storms happen all the time. They are often painful and scary while they last, but they eventually pass, and humans are usually better for these ordeals. I take comfort in this.
As I look to the next five years of the CEAH, I see opportunities to build on our many successes, while also targeting specific needs and issues of our day in Maine (and beyond).
Can Legacy Scholars grow into a representative, statewide cohort of 2,000-plus members who, by their data and volunteerism, can influence policies and create new pathways for wellness? Can our efforts to link students with older adults in congregate housing become a favored pathway for applied service-learning across disciplines at UNE? The “we” of the CEAH will make it so and more.
Tom Meuser, Ph.D.
Founding Director, CEAH