David Ekerdt named director of Gerontology Center

David J. Ekerdt became the new director of the Gerontology Center in January. Ekerdt, the interim director of the Gerontology Center and professor of sociology, was appointed after a national search.

“David Ekerdt is a recognized research leader with the vision to define and expand KU’s scholarly and academic initiatives in aging,” said Steven Warren, Life Span Institute director.

Ekerdt will oversee the Gerontology Center’s research agenda that includes seminal research in aging and communication, the social and psychological aspects of retirement, long-term care, housing alternatives ,and age discrimination.

Ekerdt’s charge includes the Gerontology Center’s multidisciplinary graduate program that offers both master’s and doctoral degrees in gerontology.

He will direct the Center’s work with public and private agencies in developing programs for older persons and their families and assisting agencies and organizations withe valuations of programs and public policies. 

He will also be responsible for the Center’s activities as part of a wider, multidisciplinary group of affiliated faculty, including scientists and clinicians at the Center on Aging of the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Previously, Ekerdt was the associate director of the Center on Aging and associate professor of family medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

A graduate of Boston University, Ekerdt has also been a member of the faculties of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Boston University School of Public Health.

Ekerdt is presently conducting research on American workers’ changing plans and decisions for retirement, and on the ways that people manage and dispose of their possessions in later life funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging.

He also is editor-in-chief of the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Aging, a four-volume, one-million-word work published in 2002 that is the first standard reference on aging for both the general public and academic researchers. 

Ekerdt teaches the sociology of aging and quantitative research methods, and has supervised gradate students on both campuses. His funded studies of work and retirement have examined the retirement process and its effects on health, well-being, and the marital relationship, as well as behavioral expectations on later life.