Judith A. Sugar, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emerita at the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Reno, was recently honored with the establishment of the Judith A. Sugar Endowed Professorship in Gerontology. This is the first endowed professorship within the School of Public Health, which will bring greater attention to gerontology within the School, University, the local community and academia both nationally and internationally.
“An endowed professorship is one of the highest academic awards that we may bestow on our faculty. The Judith A. Sugar Endowed Professorship in Gerontology provides us with the opportunity to not only elevate our programs and research, but also enhance our School’s recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and researchers in gerontology,” Dean of the School of Public Health Muge Akpinar-Elci expressed. “This transformative endowment celebrates and advances Judith’s legacy along with her immense contributions to the field.”
The endowed professorship will increase awareness of gerontology within public health, which has historically focused on earlier parts of the lifespan. Sugar shared that more than 55 million Americans, 17% of the U.S. population, are age 65 or older and by 2040 older Americans will be 22% of our population. She noted that the broad implications of the growing numbers of older people are underrecognized, limiting our ability to value the contributions older people can make to our communities.
“Every field of study—from biology to engineering and psychology—has opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators who want to create new programs, products and services for our older generations and their loved ones,” Sugar said. “So, taking courses or completing academic programs in gerontology, be they certificates, minors, majors or graduate degrees, will serve students well into the future.”
Sugar, a nationally recognized teacher and scholar in gerontology, received her doctoral degree in lifespan developmental psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada and for most of her academic career, has focused on the later years of the human lifespan.
She has published widely in the fields of psychology, gerontology and education. One of her most influential publications is “Introduction to Aging: A Positive, Interdisciplinary Approach,” the only textbook for introductory courses in gerontology, written with the goal of encouraging more students to participate in realizing the opportunities and addressing the challenges of an aging society. She fondly remembers the support of her colleagues as she was writing the first and then second edition of her book. She shared that she has taught more than 1,000 students in her introductory aging course. One of her favorite campus memories has been connecting with, “so many wonderful students and colleagues in the School and across campus.”
Sugar has served in many leadership roles in prominent professional gerontological organizations, including the American Psychological Association’s Division of Adult Development and Aging, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and the Gerontological Society of America and is a board member for the nonprofit National Association for Professional Gerontologists.
Among her academic leadership roles, she served as Associate Dean of The Graduate School at the University of Nevada, Reno, chaired the gerontology program at Colorado State University and served as Associate Director of the Borun Center for Gerontological Research at UCLA and as Director of the Graham and Jean Sanford Center for Aging at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sugar was instrumental in co-authoring the application for the School of Public Health’s Master of Public Health program, which helped lead the School on its journey to becoming an accredited School of Public Health by the Council on Education for Public Health in 2021.
She has been honored with numerous awards including Fellow of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, Woman of Achievement by the University of Nevada, Reno and Distinguished Faculty Scholar by the Sanford Center for Aging. She was also selected as a facilitator for the 1995 White House Conference on Aging and appointed to the Nevada State Commission on Aging.
“Those who explore the field of gerontology will learn about the possibilities and challenges for their own future, as well as the future for their family, friends, neighbors and community, making them well prepared to take advantage of the possibilities and to meet the challenges of aging,” Sugar said.
You may make a gift to the Judith A. Sugar Endowed Professorship in Gerontology to honor Judith’s legacy.