WCHHS hosts Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William A. Hazel


Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle and Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William A. Hazel, Jr.


Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William A. Hazel, Jr.

At Radford University’s inaugural Interprofessional Gerontology Symposium, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William A. Hazel Jr., reviewed the range of initiatives by which the Commonwealth is confronting an aging population.  

To more than 40 campus and community guests at the event, held in the College of Business and Economics multipurpose room, Hazel said that Virginia faces “an enormous challenge as our population ages.”  

Facing that challenge is part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 21st Century Plan for a New Virginia Economy and its goal is “a population that is healthy and productive.”

Hazel joined President Penelope W. Kyle, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sam Minner and School of Nursing Director Tony Ramsey to commemorate the launch of the Post-Baccalaureate Interprofessional Graduate Certificate (PBIGC) in Gerontology program.

The symposium, sponsored by RU’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services (WCHHS), was poignant as each speaker shared anecdotes of their personal experiences as caregivers for aging loved ones. Faculty and student collaborative research on a range of gerontology-related topics was also on display.

President Kyle introduced Hazel’s keynote speech and reflected on the symposium, saying, “The data points out the need for the kind of educational program and research on display today.”

She added: “Radford University’s contribution to this challenge is the preparation of high-level health care providers, nursing professionals and others who are fluent in the latest ways to care for our elderly neighbors and who are sensitive to their unique places in life.”


Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle and School of Nursing Director Tony Ramsey.

Both Kyle and Minner referred to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that indicates that longer life expectancy and declining fertility rates are increasing the proportion of the population traditionally considered “old.” WHO data indicates that between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people in the world over age 60 will increase from 605 million to 2 billion. According to the United States Census, this proportion of the American population will increase to 21 percent by 2050 from 13 percent now, according to the Pew Research Center. In Virginia, older adults will number 1.8 in 2030, according to the Commonwealth’s Plan for Aging Services.

“It is there, it is real and it matters. It is important to keep people in their communities and empower their natural support,” said Hazel in his address.

Hazel cited the proactive role that Radford University has taken in addressing the challenge, saying, “Your approach is innovative and we are glad you are taking it.”

For the symposium’s students, faculty and guests, Hazel reviewed a wide range of programs and factors guiding Virginia’s service to the state’s aging population. He discussed the Communication-Referral-Information and Assistance (CRIA) Program, the Care Transitions Intervention Program and the Respite Care program among others. Locally, he highlighted the range of services provided by the New River Valley Area Agency on Aging and New River Valley Community Services.

Set to begin enrolling graduate students and non-degree students from the community in 2016, RU’s PBIGC program will prepare them for collaborative care of geriatric patients or clients.  The 15-credit hour certificate will employ an interprofessional framework and its courses will reflect biological, psychological, sociocultural and therapeutic aspects related to the functional challenges faced by individuals as they age. The program was developed by the 10-person Interprofessional Gerontology Consortium (IGC), chaired by RU’s Marcella J. Griggs Distinguished Professor in Gerontological Nursing, Virginia Burggraf.

The IGC included faculty from RU’s Colleges of Business and Economics, Education and Human Development, Visual and Performing Arts and Humanities and Behavioral Sciences as well as Waldron College. Among the disciplines engaged were nursing, business, occupational therapy, music therapy, physical therapy, counselor education, social work and psychology.


Virginia Burggraf , Marcella Griggs Endowed Professor of Gerontological Nursing

Among the posters from RU graduate and undergraduate students in gerontology were:

  • "The Reminiscence Bump Effect in published autobiographies" by Grace Flood, Courtney Hurley and Thomas W. Pierce, professor of psychology.
  • “Perceptions of OCBs and CWBs in the Workplace: The influence of age and gender stereotypes,” by Boglarka Vizy and Jenessa Steele, associate professor of psychology.
  • “Pilot Study to determine if there is a correlation between the perception of falls using the Center For Disease Control and Prevention’s Stopping Elderly, Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries  (STEADI) Check Your Risk for Falling Questionnaire and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test Scores in the community-dwelling older adult population in Southwestern Virginia,” by Maryalicia Kohut,  Ashley Maness, Sarah Zeisler and Julia Castleberry, professor of physical therapy.
  • The use of Music Therapy to promote quality of life for older adults in Nursing Homes” by Shey Dillon, graduate student in music therapy.
  • Music Therapy for the care of those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” by Patricia Winter, assistant professor of music.

Apr 11, 2015