In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Vernon Greene

Professor Emeritus of Public Administration and International Affairs Vernon Greene, who passed away on October 10 at the age of 77, saw the aging process as much more than a person getting old, and his vision helped build Syracuse University’s reputation as a national leader in gerontology, home of the Aging Studies Institute (ASI) and the Center for Aging and Policy Studies (CAPS).

“Vernon is a bedrock for one of the most distinguished interdisciplinary aging institutes in the nation,” says the Maxwell School’s Dean David M. Van Slyke.  Greene was the director of the All-University Gerontology Center (1988-1993), the predecessor to the Aging Studies Institute.  He was a political scientist by training (M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington; B.A. from University of Texas, Austin).  He taught at the University of Arizona before coming to Syracuse University as an Associate Professor of Public Administration in 1986. He was promoted to Professor in 1992 and was the longtime chair of the doctoral program in social science at Maxwell.

“It is a testament to his work that we have been able to recruit and retain prolific research faculty and talented students who have an interest in aging as a life course and its direct relationship to public policy,” says Van Slyke. “Throughout his career—as researcher, teacher, advisor and mentor—he challenged colleagues and students to question conventional norms and to rethink issues through an interdisciplinary lens and rigorous research methodology.”

That’s what attracted Professor Douglas Wolf to Syracuse University more than two decades ago.  Wolf, now professor of public administration and international affairs and Gerald B. Cramer Professor of Aging Studies, says the interdisciplinary nature of the team and Greene’s approach to teaching reflected “the Maxwell way of looking at the world.”

“Vernon taught his students to ask the ‘central questions’ about the rationale for government intervention in people’s lives,” says Wolf. “He explored implications for public funding and policies involving the safety net, housing, organizational and community support. He included the neurosciences, biology and social sciences in his perspectives on aging.  His lens was broad and analytical.”

Greene referenced this approach in The Gerontologist in December, 1999 in his farewell message as he stepped down from his position as editor-in-chief.  “I have tried to steer a course for the journal that is multidisciplinary in substance and ecumenical in methodological philosophy.  As other journals in the (Gerontological Society of America) have increasingly defined their missions along section and disciplinary lines, I have tried to maintain and enhance the commitment of The Gerontologist to providing a venue for a reflective and scholarly conversation that seeks to broadly involve the Society as a whole.”  (Vol. 39, No. 6, 644).

“His legacy are the students whose work he supervised,” says Wolf.  “He was training people to be exceptionally rigorous in laying out the rationale and the tools for carrying out public services.”

“He was both big picture and a stickler for details,” says Stuart Bretschneider who, along with Greene, taught doctoral students research methodology.  Bretschneider is now director of the Center for Organization Research and Design at Arizona State University.  “Vernon trained a lot of people to do very careful, high quality analytical research.  He had high expectations for his students and worked tirelessly with them to help them achieve those expectations.”

Sarah Laditka, now professor emeritus in public health sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was one of Greene’s Ph.D. students. “Vernon was generous in sharing his wisdom and advice, which helped me greatly to succeed in my academic career. Vernon was never too busy to talk with me. When I needed his advice the most, he put meeting with me ahead of everything else. He was a role model for my entire career. I will always be inspired by Vernon’s dedication to mentoring graduate students in research and to promoting the health and well-being of older adults.”

Kristina Lambright, Greene’s graduate assistant from 1996-97, says he “influenced me to become a professor in public administration. The lessons I learned 25 years ago from Vernon about what it means to be a kind, thoughtful and conscientious faculty mentor continue to impact my own work with graduate students today as a professor at Binghamton University.”

Dean Van Slyke recalls that Greene served on his own mentoring committee when he first came to Syracuse as an assistant professor in 2004. “I recall people saying he’s exactly the kind of person you want on your mentoring committee because if you can make it by Vernon Greene, you can make it by most people.  Vernon was seen as a proxy for quality.  He did not suffer fools gladly. He was going to ask hard questions and scrutinize things.”

Bretschneider jokingly recalls that if Greene was in the audience for any research presentation, “he would invariably ask about some endogenous factor in the methodology, inspiring a comprehensive discussion of the issue. Vernon thought deeply about why things happen the way they do. He was a serious scholar who tackled the truly important things in life.”

Greene is survived by his wife of 42 years, Deborah Monahan, Emerita Professor of Social Work, Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, their daughter Rachel (Philip Roth) Greene; son, Samuel (Kseniia) Greene; brothers, Geoffrey (Carol) Greene, Mark (Dani) Greene; and several nieces and nephews.

October 18, 2021, By Eileen Korey, SU News,_pioneer_in_the_study_of_aging/ 

ASI Faculty Associate Jennifer Karas Montez named University Professor

“Beyond my wildest dreams.” That’s how sociology professor Jennifer Karas Montez describes her reaction to being named University Professor. The appointment is a prestigious distinction granted to faculty who excel in their fields and who have made extraordinary scholarly contributions as judged by their peers nationally and internationally. Montez’s appointment was recently approved by the Syracuse University Board of Trustees following recommendations from the sociology department, Maxwell School and University leadership.

“I absolutely love what I do,” says Montez, professor of sociology, Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar in Aging Studies, director of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies (CAPS) and co-director of the Policy, Place, and Population Health Lab in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Montez has built a career around asking “big questions” in the search for solutions to some of life’s most pressing public health problems: Why do people in one state live longer than those in other states? Why is the United States losing ground in its international ranking in life expectancy? Why is life expectancy worse for lesser-educated adults than most other groups? What can be done to reverse these disturbing trends and change life trajectories?

Read the full SU News article here.

ASI Faculty Associates Janet Wilmoth and Andrew London co-edited a new book “Life-Course Implications of U.S. Public Policies

Janet M. Wilmoth and Andrew S. London, two professors from the Maxwell School’s Department of Sociology, the Aging Studies Institute and the Center for Aging and Policy Studies, co-edited a new book “Life-Course Implications of U.S. Public Policies” (Routledge, 2021). The 11 chapters in the book by leading scholars of aging and the life course are written to be accessible to a broad range of audiences. Collectively, they encourage readers to systematically consider the influence of public policies and social programs on lives, aging and the life course. Wilmoth and London hope that this volume will meet two main goals: to foster an appreciation of how interrelated public policy influences condition the life course; and to demonstrate how the life-course perspective and cumulative inequality theory can serve as tools to re-shape contemporary public policy debates. Ultimately, they are advocating for social programs that respond to the needs of individuals across the life course.

In the foreword, authored by Gerald B. Cramer Faculty Scholar in Aging Studies Jennifer Karas Montez, and three distinct chapters, five Maxwell professors, and one sociology Ph.D. student contribute to a discussion of how public polices affect everyone through intended and unintended consequences over the short- and long-term. Their specific contributions to this book include an examination of the historical development of U.S. public policies and their relation to the life course, the variable influences of public policies related to food and nutrition across the life course, and how public policies—or the lack thereof—shape grandparental care work.

In Chapter 1, “An Introduction to Life-Course Perspectives on Public Policies,” Wilmoth and London review the history of U.S. public policy development, starting with policies and associated programs that emerged out of President Theodore Roosevelt’s New Deal. That early wave of policy and program development was bolstered by President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a “War on Poverty.” According to Wilmoth and London, policies can generate or ameliorate inequalities in the United States through cumulative processes that play out differently on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, immigrant status, ability and sexual orientation.

In Chapter 6, “U.S. Food and Nutrition Policy Across the Life Course,” Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs Collen M. Heflin evaluates the development of U.S. food and nutrition policy. Heflin argues that food insecurity across the life course is often linked to other forms of precarity. She also examines the temporary nature of food assistance programs in relation to age-related life-course transitions. Heflin maintains the gaps in coverage at critical periods of children’s development have long-term implications for health and well-being.

In Chapter 10, “How Social Policies Affect Grandparent Care Work,” University Professor of Sociology Madonna Harrington Meyer and sociology Ph.D. student Amra Kandic examine the nexus of public policies and care work by grandparents. In the United States, grandparents provide a lot more care than their counterparts in other countries, and there is great deal of variation in grandparental care work by race, class and gender. Harrington Meyer and Kandic use data from in-depth interviews with grandparents to illustrate how the lack of federal policies and the use of poverty-based criteria to determine access to social welfare programs shape demands for, and experiences of, their care work.

ASI Faculty Associates Scott Landes, Andrew London and Janet Wilmoth article published in Armed Forces & Society

Scott D. Landes, Andrew S. London, and Janet M. Wilmoth wrote, “Service-Connected Disability and the Veteran Mortality Disadvantage,” which was published by Armed Forces & Society.

Abstract: Research consistently reports a veteran mortality disadvantage relative to nonveterans, but has not considered the contribution of service-connected disability to this differential. We use data from the 1986 and 1989 National Health Interview Survey-2011 Linked Mortality Files (N = 124,122) to estimate multivariate Cox regression models of the association between veteran status and mortality, taking service-connected disability status into account. Bivariate analyses demonstrate higher mortality risk, lower socioeconomic status, and poorer health and functioning among veterans with a service-connected disability than among nonveterans and veterans without a service-connected disability. Multivariate models confirm a mortality disadvantage for all veteran service-connected disability subgroups, which is reduced by the inclusion of exogenous sociodemographic variables and substantially mediated by the health/functional limitation status measures. Results indicate that service-connected disability status accounts for some variation in, and may have a cumulative effect on, the veteran mortality disadvantage. When possible, future research should account for service-connected disability status when studying veteran–nonveteran mortality differentials. Read more. 

ASI Faculty Associate Scott Landes Interviewed for PBS Newshour Story

Scott Landes was interviewed for the PBS Newshour story, Relative invisibility makes for uphill battle to get COVID vaccines for Americans with IDD.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities like Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism often have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19. Plus, many receive care in group living facilities, putting them at further risk. But despite the elevated risks for those with IDD, they face an uphill vaccination battle. William Brangham reports.

Watch the interview here.

ASI Faculty Associates contribute to aging studies handbook

Four professors and a doctoral student from the Maxwell School’s Department of Sociology and Department of Public Administration and International Affairs have contributed to the completely revised ninth edition of the “Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences” (Elsevier Academic Press). In three chapters, Maxwell scholars explore a range of issues related to aging and the life course, including: the link between education and adult health, the life-course consequences of women’s direct and indirect ties to the military, and how intergenerational family ties shape well-being over the life course. Read more.

Job Opportunities: Associate Professor/ Assistant Professor Positions in the Department of Economics & Human Development and Family Science

Associate Professor/Full Professor of Economics
Syracuse University’s Department of Economics seeks to fill a position in health economics at the Associate or Full Professor level. This position is part of an ambitious cluster hire initiative in the broad area of Aging, Health, and Neuroscience and the subarea of Population Health into which several positions are being filled from different disciplines. Faculty hired into these positions will build on our existing strengths in the focus area and will participate in an organized research cluster that spans multiple departments in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs as well as the University. Further information on the campus-wide hiring initiative can be found at the Syracuse University Office of the Provost website.
Apply Here – 

Assistant/Associate Professor – Human Development and Family Science (Tenure-Track/Tenured)
The Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University is seeking applicants for a tenure-track position in the field of gerontology with a specialization in aging and health. Preference will be given to candidates already serving as an assistant or associate professor who apply multidisciplinary approaches, such as bio-psychological or bio-social models, to the study of human development over the second half of life.

Successful candidates cover this issue within broader family, social/socioeconomic, community, and cultural contexts; and have the potential to achieve a strong record of publication and establish a program of funded research; and engage in high quality teaching.. Candidates whose research, teaching, or service has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and inclusion in higher education are particularly encouraged to apply.
Apply Here –