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Cohen installed as dean of USC Davis

USC President C. L. Max Nikias gives USC Davis School of Gerontology Dean Pinchas Cohen a symbolic chair in honor of his new post. (Photo/Steve Cohn)

Pinchas Cohen was officially installed as dean of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, executive director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center and holder of the William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in a formal ceremony held on Oct. 31 at Town & Gown.

“For many, gerontology is the study of how we age, but for the past 35 years, the USC Davis School has focused on how we age better,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “It is the oldest program of its kind in the world and, quite simply, it is the best.”

The university’s other academic deans began the ceremony with a processional, taking their seats among the assembled students, staff, faculty, friends and family. Also taking part were several USC officials, including trustees Verna B. Dauterive ME ’49, EdD ’66, Carol Campbell Fox MS ’62 and Robert Padgett ’68, and senior-level administrators Elizabeth Garrett, Al Checcio and Robert Abeles, among others.

“The Talmud says, ‘For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest,’ ” Nikias said. “In Dr. Cohen, we welcome a distinguished leader who will ensure the USC Davis school enjoys a season of harvest.”

In his speech, Cohen discussed the unique past and present of USC Davis, the current revolution in aging and his vision for the future of the school, but he began by thanking everyone who had made his transition a smooth and enthusiastic one.

“My fellow Trojans — it feels good to say that — I am delighted to begin this journey alongside you,” he said. “Gerontology is the story of us all, and I can think of no cause nobler — or more necessary.”

Thanking the faculty and administration while also honoring special guests, such as James Birren, the founding dean of USC Davis, Cohen described the areas he considers crucial to the future of the field, including initiatives in “digital aging” (utilizing technology and social media to create innovative aging solutions) and “personalized aging” (examining specific genetic factors to tailor medical care and health promotion activities to individuals who will best benefit from them).

Cohen ended his speech by quoting guest Alan Davis, the son of school founders Leonard and Sophie Davis, who said: “My father felt there needed to be a place to train future leaders, a place where people applied science to the issues: What are the real answers, what are the possible solutions? Gerontology crosses all the disciplines. For the USC Davis school, the potential is limitless.”

As a symbolic gift to honor Cohen’s acceptance of the Kugel Dean’s Chair, Nikias presented him with a special cherrywood replica of an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed chair.

“Dr. Cohen was the perfect choice to lead the USC Davis School of Gerontology,” Nikias said. “As a result, we will see a school infused with youthful vigor that will never grow old, even as the school grows older.”

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