Begun in 2012 at Dublin City University in Ireland and now including dozens of member universities, the AFU Global Network developed 10 principles to guide its efforts. These principles encourage older adults to participate in core university activities including career development, the pursuit of master’s or Ph.D. qualifications, participation in research, and access to cultural events and health and wellness activities.
Kinesiology and community health professor Wendy Rogers led the effort to bring the U. of I. into the network. She is the director of Collaborations in Health, Aging, Research, and Technology, an interdisciplinary research program in the College of Applied Health Sciences that promotes education, policy support and technological innovations to contribute to healthy aging.
Numerous other initiatives on the U. of I. campus serve older adults. These include the Center on Health, Aging, and Disability, led by AHS associate dean for research Jeffrey Woods; Cognition, Lifespan Engagement, Aging, and Resilience, a program led by educational psychology professor Elizabeth Stine-Morrow that integrates older adults into university research; U. of I. Extension, which bring educational opportunities to people of all ages; and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers courses and engagement activities to older adults. The university also offers fitness programs and tuition waivers to adults over age 65 who live in Illinois.
Campus leaders and every major educational and research unit on campus, including colleges, institutes and centers, have endorsed this initiative.
“The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is working to ensure older adults in Illinois are offered opportunities and services to remain healthy, active and engaged,” wrote Chancellor Robert Jones in a letter supporting the effort. “The AFU principles provide a valuable guiding framework for distinguishing and evaluating how we can shape age-friendly programs and practices, as well as to identify gaps and opportunities for growth.”