Donald Ford receives second annual Hartford Center Community Champion Award

April 28, 2015

Donald Ford, professor emeritus of human development and family studies, and dean emeritus of the College of Health and Human Development, received the second annual Community Champion Award from the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State. The award was presented at the center’s third annual Alumni and Friends Brunch on April 12.

The award is presented to recognize local individuals and organizations that have contributed substantively to the advancement of the well-being of older adults and supported the College of Nursing’s efforts in this area.

In 2014, Ford helped to establish the Program for Person-Centered Living Systems of Care (PPSLSC) within the Hartford Center. Based on his seminal book "Humans as Self-Constructed Living Systems," the program is also informed by his years as a care partner with his late wife, Carol. The Fords co-authored a book, "Carol’s Alzheimer’s Journey," which describes the life and care system they developed as a result of their experience.

“Dean Ford’s body of work holds the potential to revolutionize the science and quality of person-centered care provided to older adults here in the United States and beyond,” said Kimberly Van Haitsma, director of the PPCLSC. “He gives generously of his time, wisdom and expertise to help guide and mentor all of us in the Hartford Center.”

Ford began his career at Penn State in 1955 as an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Psychology Clinic. He was founding director of the Division of Counseling (now the Division of Undergraduate Studies) and founding dean of the College of Health and Human Development, where he remained until 1977. He served as acting head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health, where he worked to develop baccalaureate and doctoral programs. He also created the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders from the previous speech and hearing department.

As a scholar, Ford authored and co-authored eight books and more than 200 papers on psychotherapy, human development and higher education development. Before coming to Penn State, he was assistant dean of students at Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) in Manhattan, Kansas. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State University as well as a doctorate in clinical psychology from Penn State.

The PPSLSC is an academic initiative that focuses on innovation and excellence in gerontological research, with the aim of improving quality of life for older persons through the study of social and behavioral aspects of aging. The program’s goal is to develop an interprofessional theory and model for the growing field of person-centered living systems of care.

The Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State is one of eight national Hartford Centers whose collective mission is to prepare a growing number of nurse educators with the passion and expertise to create the future of gerontological nursing education and practice. The center offers graduate programs in gerontological nursing education and research, including an online post-master’s certificate in geriatric nursing education.

Last Updated April 29, 2015