The Center for the Study of Aging


The Center for the Study of Aging (CSA) at McDaniel College was established in 2006 to address specific unmet needs related to professional development and community resources regarding the care of and services for older adults.  We believe that all people who work with and on behalf of older persons should understand aging and its affects so that they have the knowledge and tools to maximize the quality of life for older persons.  


The Center for the Study of Aging at McDaniel College is a comprehensive entity that will serve as the central location for all members of the Carroll County community and the region to work together in support of the aging population. The CSA will be the clearinghouse in the community for the study of aging issues and the source for innovative educational opportunities.


The Center of the Study for Aging at McDaniel College will serve as the primary regional resource to promote successful aging in a community responsive approach.

Core Values (Derived from McDaniel’s First Principles)

  • Honesty and Respect
  • Honoring Critical Thinking about and Intellectual Interaction with the World
  • Engendering Knowledge and Skill Acquisition across the Liberal Arts
  • Promoting Personal Growth to Maximize Each Individual’s Potential
  • Social Responsibility

Academic Programs

M.S. Gerontology

The Master of Science program in Gerontology provides students with state-of-the-art instruction and many hands-on and application-oriented activities to maximize understanding of the interconnectedness of the bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of aging. The program delivers challenging, rigorous coursework to ensure that our graduates have attained professional excellence, particularly in the application of theory to practice, so as to enable them to fulfill leadership roles in the public and private sectors when gerontology knowledge and expertise is essential to improve the quality of life for older adults. Courses are offered at our main campus in Westminster, Maryland, online, or in a hybrid format that allows students to take course both ways.

5-year B.A./M.S. Gerontology

The need for qualified professionals who can effectively work with and for our aging population is greater than ever. Coupling an undergraduate degree in any discipline with a graduate degree in Gerontology will provide skills and knowledge necessary to be more competitive in a multitude of employment arenas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics has targeted the field of Gerontology as one of the highest occupational growth areas, since meeting the needs/wants of older persons will be a major, if not predominate emphasis in our country for the next several decades. Unprecedented opportunities exist in business, education, recreation and leisure, mental & physical health and wellness, social work, research, public policy, academia, and other areas supporting our aging population. Employment in some of these fields with a specific focus on the aging population is expected to grow by more than 36% over the national average of equivalent positions that don’t involve the 65+ age group.

Choosing the 5- year program is cost effective, too! Undergraduate students meeting eligibility requirements (3.0 GPA- both in chosen major and overall) begin the graduate Gerontology program during the spring semester of junior year by taking just one graduate course during each of the remaining three (3) semesters of their undergraduate program (spring junior year, fall & spring senior year) as part of their regular course schedule (academic load cannot exceed 22 credits during each term) at no additional cost in tuition.

After receiving their B.A. degrees, students continuing in the Master’s program full-time complete 3 courses during each of the next three semesters (summer, fall, and spring) and graduate with their M.S. degree in Gerontology in spring of their 5th year.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Gerontology

The Graduate Gerontology Certificate Program allows students to examine aging from a bio-psycho-social perspective.  The program follows a professional orientation, focused on career-oriented knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The target audience is existing professionals in the senior service sector; professionals and others considering a career with elders; and individuals whose work or personal responsibilities include contact or working with aging adults.

This certificate program requires completion of 18 graduate credit hours in Gerontology in one of five specializations:

  1. Gero-Psychology
    • Similar to the rates of mental illness in the general population, approximately 20 percent of older adults suffer from a mental disorder. The most prevalent in later life are anxiety, cognitive impairment, depression, and addiction. Additionally, older adults have the highest suicide rates in the country. Unfortunately, only about 3% of all practicing counselors focus on this age group. The American Psychological Association (APA) estimates that between 5000 and 7500 psychologists educated to understand the aging process and the unique mental health needs of elders are necessary to meet current and future demands as the older adult demographic doubles to over 80 million people. Designed for practitioners providing or transitioning to begin providing counseling services to older adults, the focus of this specialization is on the psychological effects and mental health concerns of aging.
  2. Health Promotion
    • By 2030, more than 20% of the American population will be over the age of and most will have at least one chronic health condition. A growing professional specialty in Gerontology relates to reducing the likelihood of disability and improving the health of older adults to reduce health care costs, increase functional ability, and improve overall quality of life. This specialization is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to focus on wellness and increase the health, function, and overall well-being of older adults.
  3. Programming for Older Adults
    • Enrichment programs facilitate the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being of older adults, but can be targeted towards any of the six dimensions of wellness. With emphasis on both theory and application, this specialization recognizes the growing interests and diverse needs that must be taken into consideration when developing programs to improve the lives of older adults. 
  4. Aging Services
    • As the older adult population more than doubles over the next decade, there is a growing workforce need for leaders educated in aging issues to serve in management positions in private, public and not for profit organizations that provide services to older adults. Become an informed leader in the aging service industry as you examine aging theory, policy, research, and organizations that impact delivery of health and social services to an aging population.
  5. Generalist
    • Don’t need a specific focus? Consider aging topics of your choice by selecting any two Gerontology electives.  

Minor in Gerontology

The gerontology minor offered through the Center for the Study of Aging at McDaniel College was the first in the country to be designated as a Program of Merit by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). Program of Merit status indicates the program has voluntarily undergone a review by AGHE and found to adhere to or exceed national guidelines, expectations, and practices in gerontology education. To learn more about POM, visit the AGHE website.

Gerontology is an important field of study and one that couples well with nearly every major at McDaniel College.  Choosing to minor in Gerontology will prepare students to meet the challenges of our aging world. There will be unprecedented opportunities for qualified professionals who can work effectively with and for our aging population. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics has targeted the field of Gerontology as one of the highest growth areas for jobs in the future. The reason for this is two-fold. First, people born between 1946 and 1964, known as the baby-boom generation, are turning age 65 at the rate of one person every 8 seconds, a trend which will continue for the next two decades. Secondly, people are living longer than ever, resulting in the 85+ age group being the fastest growing demographic in our country. Because of these demographic changes, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the year 2030 the number of individuals age 65 and older will make up over one-fifth of the American population and by 2050 the 65+ age group will outnumber the 15 and younger age group.  We are not unique in this trend. Most of the developed world is aging at a pace equivalent to or greater than United States.

Courses in the minor allow students to explore adulthood and aging processes and development and change that occur biologically, psychologically, and socially. The minor also provides exposure to ethical thinking, spirituality, policy and social support considerations, cross-cultural factors, and health care issues. Students examine current theories and research, analyze program, policy, and research issues, and complete an internship designed to expose them to gerontology work within their chosen major.


2015-16 Faculty and Staff

Diane J. Martin, Ph.D.


Director, The Center for the Study of Aging
Coordinator, Gerontology Programs
Assistant Professor of Gerontology

Dr. Martin joined McDaniel College in August 2007, serving as the Center’s Academic Director and Visiting Assistant Professor of Gerontology through June 2013. Dr. Martin’s areas of particular teaching/research interest include ageism, intergenerational relationships, psychology of aging, and successful aging.

Dr. Martin formerly served as a Research Program Coordinator for The Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine and was an adjunct lecturer in the behavioral sciences and psychology departments at York College of Pennsylvania, Penn State-York, and Harford Community College.

The author of several professional and academic presentations and publications on aging, Dr. Martin earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Northcentral University, an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from Towson University and a B.A. from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Dr. Martin is a member of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) and routinely attends sponsored conferences and workshops. Additionally, she is an active member in Sigma Phi Omega, the National Honor and Professional Society in Gerontology, where she serves on the board as secretary (2012-present).

Alva S. Baker, M.D.


Adjunct Instructor of Gerontology

Dr. Baker served as the Director of the CSA from January 2007- June 2013.He is a certified geriatrician and currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Hospice of Washington County. Dr. Baker formerly served as Vice President/ Medical Director of Episcopal Ministries to the Aging (EMA) and as the Executive Director of the Copper Ridge Institute.

Dr. Baker was engaged in the private practice of medicine in Westminster until 1994, when, concurrent with the opening of Copper Ridge, he began working full time for EMA. He is a member of the American Geriatrics Society and the Southern Medical Association.

He is certified medical director and a member of the American Medical Directors Association and served as its president in 2007. Dr. Baker has certification in hospice and palliative medicine and was an associate medical director for Carroll Hospice. He served on the Executive Council for the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County through December 2012, and has been a member of the medical staff of Carroll Hospital Center since 1972. Dr. Baker earned his M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and his B.A. from Western Maryland College.

Shannon Hammond, Esq.

Adjunct Instructor of Gerontology

Attorney Hammond is the founding partner of Hammond Law, a boutique elder law practice on Main Street Sykesville. She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Elder Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for By Their Side, a non-profit organization serving Marylanders with developmental disabilities. Attorney Hammond is a frequent lecturer on various estate and long-term care planning topics and has taught elder law courses at Johns Hopkins University’s Odyssey Program and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland’s Renaissance Institute. She has been named to Maryland’s SuperLawyers list in 2013 and 2014.

Barbara H. Leasure, M.A.


Adjunct Instructor of Gerontology

Ms. Leasure holds an M.A. in Gerontology from Edinboro State University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Director of Education and Compliance at Carroll Lutheran Village, a continuing care retirement community located a few miles outside of Westminster where she has been on staff since 1997. With 30-plus years of experience in the field of aging and as an adjunct instructor with McDaniel College since 2000, Ms. Leasure adds a “real world” perspective to her teaching.

Keith Karnish, M.S.


Adjunct Instructor of Gerontology

Mr. Karnish is a graduate of the CSA, earning his M.S. in Gerontology from McDaniel College in 2012. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Penn State University. Mr. Karnish’s interests focus on how aging is represented in the Humanities.

Victoria Shifflett-Fisher, M.S.


Adjunct Instructor of Gerontology

Ms. Fisher is a graduate of the 5-year B.A./M.S. program offered through the CSA, earning her M.S. in Gerontology from McDaniel College in 2012 and her B.A. in Psychology/Business Administration from McDaniel College in 2011. Ms. Fisher is employed full-time in the elder home care industry.

Gail Slater, Administrative Assistant


Upcoming Events

The CSA offers workshops, seminars, and conferences for professionals, paraprofessionals, and the general public. Events are offered both on and off campus. We can also tailor a presentation to meet the needs of your audience. Email us at or call 410-857-2500 for more information.


Tues., 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Decker Center Forum



“Heart Healthy You”
Presentation by Dr. Subroto Chatterjee, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Wed., 4–8 p.m.
Decker Center Forum



Sat., 9 a.m.–noon
Kenneth R. Gill Stadium


OCT 12

Wed., 4–8 p.m.
Decker Center Forum

Professional/Workforce Development Programs

The CSA promotes education on age-related issues and trends through a holistic, person-centered, and community responsive approach that bridges generations and fosters understanding and innovations. We are the regional leader in providing seminars, workshops, conferences, and programs related to the process of aging and our rapidly aging society.

Professional Development/Continuing Education/Community Outreach

The CSA offers professional workshops, seminars, and conferences and outreach to the community on a variety of important topics, including aging processes, caregiving, public policy, health & wellness, business & economics, communication, ethics, ageism, and spirituality. We can also tailor presentations to meet the specific needs of senior sector employers and deliver them at your location. CEUs are available for psychologists, mental health counselors, and social workers in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Number of CEU credits available, if any, will be indicated on the program announcement. No college credit is awarded.

Gerontology Specialist Program

Although open to anyone with an interest in aging and older adults, the Gerontology Specialist program is specifically designed for volunteers and direct care staff who do not have a high school diploma/equivalent.  In the 9-hour program, presented as a series of six 90-minute seminars, participants will gain personal and professional knowledge that will increase their understanding of aging processes and improve the quality of interactions with and care provided to elders.  Topics addressed include ageism, ethics, biological, social, and psychological changes of aging, dementia, and effective communication strategies. Attendees who complete the program will receive a Certificate of Completion.  No college credit is awarded.

Gerontology Specialist Workshop Descriptions

Demography, Stereotyping, & Ethics

This seminar introduces you to what it means to be ‘old’ and the need for age education. We will dispel some of common myths and stereotypes associated with growing older and examine ethical concerns, such as confidentiality and elder abuse and neglect.

Physiological Processes of Aging

Students will be introduced to some of the normal system changes that accompany the aging process. Healthy aging will be differentiated from changes that result from the health problems that occur in later life. Medication side effects, safety, and fall risk factors will also be discussed.

Understanding Social Aging

In this seminar you will examine changes that occur in people’s roles and relationships as they age. Related topics include social involvement and support, leisure and recreation, retirement, volunteerism, and loss and grief. 

Understanding Psychological Aging

Negative stereotypes about the psychological well-being of elders are prevalent in our society. In reality, the vast majority of older adults do not experience significant cognitive decline and mental illness is not a normal part of the aging process.  This seminar examines the characteristics of personality, intelligence, mental health, and mental illness in later life.  

Understanding Dementia

This seminar introduces you to abnormal changes in cognitive function in later life as we answer the questions: Dementia – What is it? What is it not?  We will also evaluate reasons why so-called “difficult” behaviors may occur in persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and examine ways to minimize these behaviors.

Effective Communication

In this seminar you will learn about factors that impact communication and be introduced to written and oral communication strategies to effectively enhance your interactions with older adults. Therapeutic communication will also be discussed, including how it can be successfully used to interact with persons with dementia.

Senior Gerontology Specialist Program

This continuing education program is open to anyone with at least a high school diploma or equivalent with a career or personal interest in the processes and effects of aging. The course work includes a total of 18 hours (six 3-hour sessions) of classroom instruction on topics such as ethical treatment of elders, public policy, communication, mental & behavioral health, exercise & balance, and physical health & nutrition. Participants can choose to attend individual sessions or to complete the program. CEUs are available for psychologists, mental health counselors, and social workers in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Attendees who complete the program will receive a Certificate of Completion.  Certificate of Attendance for individual sessions is available by request. No college credit is awarded.

Senior Gerontology Specialist Program Workshop Description

Demography, Stereotyping, & Ethics

The changing demographic of the American landscape has resulted in the growing need to better understand processes of aging. This workshop introduces you to Gerontology, and the need for age education. We will examine some of the common myths and stereotypes associated with growing older, as well as consider the ethical treatment of elders with regard to decision making, health care, living arrangements, employment, etc.

Effective Communication

In this workshop you will learn about some of the factors that negatively impact communication. You will be introduced to written and oral communication strategies to effectively enhance your interactions with older adults. Therapeutic communication will also be discussed, including how it can be successfully used to interact with older adults, and when working with persons with dementia.

Mental and Behavioral Health

Negative stereotypes about the mental health of elders are prevalent in our society. In reality, older adults are no more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than are members of any other age group. This workshop examines the characteristics of mental health and mental illness in later life. Specific conditions that will be discussed include: anxiety, depression, cognitive disorders, and addiction. We will also evaluate reasons why so-called “difficult” behaviors may occur in persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and examine ways to minimize these behaviors.

Exercise and Balance

This workshop provides information on the benefits of exercising in later life, and offers tips on how to increase motivation so that, once begun, exercise will continue. Age- related physical changes and how these changes may affect a person’s balance will also be discussed. A look at the prevalence of falls in older adults, the risk factors, assessment tools, and ways to help reduce fall risks is also addressed.

Physical Health and Nutrition

Changes that often accompany the aging process will be addressed in this workshop. Topics include body composition, skin, skeleton, muscle, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, immune system and the reproductive system. Nutritional needs for disease prevention and nutritional problems in later life will also be described.

Public Policy

In this workshop you will be introduced to the history, origins, and growth of public policy legislation and programs impacting older adults. Current legal and regulatory issues affecting development and implementation of aging services will be discussed and the economic standing of elders introduced.

The State of Aging in Maryland Conference

Thank you for your interest in the 2nd Annual State of Aging in Maryland Conference. Registration is now open!


Registration Deadline: July 25, 2016

Mason-Dixon Coalition on Aging

The goal of the Mason-Dixon Coalition on Aging is to serve as a model of how collaboration between higher education and the agencies and organizations supporting older adults can be developed to best serve the rapidly growing population of older adults. It is our mission to bring forth information, resources, education, and new ideas to dispel myths and expand our knowledge about the aging process so that we can all become advocates for the older population. For more information, please visit