Dr. Bei Wu meeting with a gerontology student group during her visit to Miami University
Dr. Bei Wu meeting with a gerontology student group during her visit to Miami University

P.K. Whelpton’s legacy inspires tomorrow’s experts in demography and aging

By AviElle Raymore,  PhD in Social Gerontology Student

With the generosity of the Whelpton family, the P.K. Whelpton Memorial Lecture Series brings a nationally known scholar to Miami University each fall. This lecture, established in 1986, honors the memory of Pascal Whelpton who served from 1953-1963 as one of the early directors of what is now Scripps Gerontology Center. Whelpton’s contributions to the field of demography and the research center left a legacy.

This inspirational annual event has evolved from a single lecture into a multi-day visit, giving the lecturer, Dr. Bei Wu from New York University (NYU) an opportunity to interact with faculty and students in a variety of settings. An internationally-known leader in gerontology, Dr. Wu is founding co-director of the Aging Incubator at NYU. She also holds the positions of dean’s professor in Global Health and director of Global Health and Aging Research at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing, NYU, and is the director of research at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU.

Dr. Bei Wu and AviElle Raymore

Dr. Bei Wu meeting with Miami student AviElle Raymore

My one-on-one meeting with Dr. Wu was eye-opening. I appreciated her insightful advice about research, professional life as a gerontologist, and work-life balance. She showed interest in my dissertation research on grandparenting. She shared stories of grandparenting and family roles among various cultures which offered me a different perspective on the issue and made me think about my research in a new way. Without this one-on-one interaction, I would not have encountered these new viewpoints.

During the various group meetings I attended, she welcomed students’ questions about her background in gerontology, her research, and global aging issues. She was attentive and interested in hearing our thoughts on issues of aging. We thoroughly enjoyed this time shared with Dr. Wu, and students oftentimes stayed after the meetings for a chance to talk one-on-one with her.

I also truly enjoyed the lecture Dr. Wu delivered titled “Improving Quality of Care of Older Adults: Twenty-Year Long-Term Care System Development in China.” She discussed the emergence of long-term care facilities in China and offered suggestions for the future of long-term care in the country. This insightful talk provided the greater Miami University community a chance to learn about aging issues in another country. Dr. Wu’s lecture highlighted the importance of understanding aging from a global perspective.

The 2017 Whelpton Lecture was an enlightening experience that gave me the opportunity to learn from a well-known scholar in gerontology.