The Aquinian

Research Chair in Community Health and Aging established at STU

From right to left: St. Thomas Univeristy president Dawn Russell; Lisa Harris, minister of seniors and long term care; Ann Evans, the McCain foundation; and Dr. Bruno Battistini, president CEO and scientific director of the NBHRFat the press release in August. -Submitted

St. Thomas University announced in August the establishment of a Research Chair in Community Health and Aging to be filled by July 2018.

The successful candidate will become a tenured faculty member, conduct research, teach courses in gerontology and set up and run research projects.

Jeffrey Carleton, associate vice-president communications at STU, described the gerontology department as being on “cloud nine” at the announcement of the establishment of the chair.

“They’re getting an additional faculty member, they’re going to get a colleague that can compliment their own research, they’ll be able to add more courses to their curriculum. It just is invigorating for the university,” Carleton said.

The chair is funded by the McCain Foundation and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation with $1-million over the next five years. The fund will cover the salary of the faculty itself, the salary and awards for graduate students, the salaries for new staff and access to databases and collaboration with health economists.

New Brunswick has a rapidly aging population with 90 per cent of seniors living outside of hospitals, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities.

In a press release from August, Dawn Russell, president and vice-chancellor of the university, said STU was the ideal location for the chair.

“We are the only university in New Brunswick to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in gerontology … Moreover, the research and scholarship by our faculty has been recognized worldwide and will become an even more important community resource,” Russell said. 

The president, CEO and scientific director of New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, Dr. Bruno Battistini said it would reinforce the “already recognized” department of gerontology at St. Thomas.

Among several areas of potential research, the chair may focus on community health, the perception of the aging population and the impact of social isolation on emotional and physical well-being.

A research chair in cannabis was also introduced this year.

In terms of whether St. Thomas has plans to introduce more chairs, Carleton said the university is concentrating on filling these two chairs at the moment.

“For now, we’re focused on filling the two chairs that we already have.”

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