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Gerontology: Wilber holds Mary Pickford gerontology chair

The Mary Pickford Foundation recently endowed the post with a $750,000 gift to the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

“The Pickford Foundation has a long history of support for the study of aging, a particular interest of the legendary film star who died in 1979,” said Edward L. Schneider, dean of the school and holder of its William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in Gerontology. “With Mary Pickford’s guidance, the foundation took a leading role in the promotion of healthy aging at USC. We are grateful for the foundation’s continuing support.

“Even before the word ‘gerontology’ became a familiar part of our lexicon, Pickford lectured on the subject and involved others in some of the USC gerontology program’s earliest courses. The foundation subsequently endowed a scholar-ship fund that has aided 51 students of gerontology since its founding in 1988.”

The foundation has also been a major supporter of the USC School of Cinema-Television and the USC Thornton School of Music. In 1995, the foundation endowed the Mary Pickford Professorship in Film and Television Production in the cinema school, a post currently held by Doe Mayer.

Wilber, a faculty member since 1988, is an associate professor of gerontology in the Leonard Davis School and holds a joint appointment in the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. She directs the Division of Health and Health Services at USC’s Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center.

A licensed clinical social worker, Wilber teaches courses in administration, public policy and long-term care. She also lectures and provides technical assistance to local human-service organizations and chairs the board of directors of the St. Barnabas Multipurpose Senior Center in Los Angeles.

“Greater longevity is increasing demand for chronic care services,” said Wilber, who has published numerous academic articles on guardianship and conserva-torship, elder abuse, and the organization and delivery of health services and long-term care. “The good news is that a variety of services are now available in many communities. Our research has identified more than two dozen core services. But finding the right ones may be difficult, because each has its own jurisdiction, eligibility rules and funding sources. The challenge is to make these services more responsive, comprehensive, easy to access, cost effective and equitable.”

Wilber is a member of the editorial board of the journal Aging and Mental Health and a reviewer for the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and The Gerontologist. She is co-editor (with D. Polisar and E. Schneider) of “A Secure Old Age: Approaches to Long Term Care Financing,” published by Springer Publishing in 1997.

Wilber graduated from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., in 1970 with a B.A. degree in American history. She earned a certificate in gerontology and a master’s degree in public administration and social work from USC in 1975 and completed her Ph.D. in public administration at USC in 1983.

— Bob Calverley

Gerontology: Wilber holds Mary Pickford gerontology chair

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