Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living wins national award

PULLMAN, Wash. — The Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living (GCISL) at Washington State University earned a Mather Institute Promising Practices Award recognizing its work on education, service, and research for the senior living industry.

“The Promising Practices Award honors the Granger Cobb Institute for efforts to address future challenges to the senior living industry now, including by offering targeted classes and degrees for college students,” said Cate O’Brien, Mather Institute assistant vice president and director. “The awards honor true leaders in ideation and implementation. We hope these award-winning projects will serve as a catalyst for organizations across the country and around the world to spark innovation for their own programs.”

“We are very honored to receive this recognition. Solving real problems in real communities for real residents and those who serve them is the foundation for the institute’s work,” said Nancy SwangerGCISL founder and director. “From its inception, industry operators have driven this work, and our industry partners remain heavily involved.”

New academic programs, resources and research drive success 

Launched in 2018, the GCISL focuses on education, research and service for the senior living industry. Collaboration with industry professionals helped the institute shape curriculum for several new programs, including a new major and minor in senior living, an online, on-demand certificate program, and Leaders LIVE! In 45, a weekly zoom series that offers the insights of industry executives. Additionally, GCISL this fall launched a new digital textbook for an introductory course in senior living for schools and organizations wishing to offer a course or launch a new program

Plans are also in the works to increase the number of faculty fellows from WSU who collaborate on GCISL initiatives. Currently, the GCISL has 23 faculty fellows from across WSU participating in research with ties to senior living. Examples of research topics include artificial intelligence and robotics technology trials for dementia patients and a study gauging product effectiveness on gait, balance and fall reduction. The work is in keeping with WSU’s Grand Challenges, a suite of research initiatives aimed at large societal issues. It is particularly relevant to the challenge of sustaining health and its themes of disease treatment, health and wellness and healthy communities. 

Collaboration combats future workforce challenges

To fill the growing demand for a skilled senior-living workforce, the GCISL senior living management program equips students with real-world knowledge and industry-expert connections before they graduate. Unlike other programs that focus heavily on geriatrics, gerontology or policy, the WSU program is preparing students with community operations expertise, where industry need is the greatest. 

The institute actively seeks collaboration opportunities with other academic programs to build similar models across the country and around the world, particularly other hospitality programs and business schools, Swanger said. 

Being located within a hospitality school in an accredited college of business is one of the institute’s biggest selling points and a valuable point of recognition for WSU, she said. 

“The Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living is a pioneer in integrating teaching and research for a rapidly growing industry,” said Chip Hunter, Carson College dean. “Our collective momentum with industry partners will redefine the perception of senior living and prepare the next generation of leaders in this space.” 

The Mather Institute is an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging and trends in senior living and successful industry innovations. A full report on the 2021 Promising Practices recipients and honorable mentions, Innovation at Work 2021, is available online.

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