Program of Merit

A Guarantee of Quality

Around twenty years ago, professionals in the field of aging from both academic and clinical backgrounds, began discussing standards which could be used to guide the development of Gerontology Programs across the nation. In 1989, a special task force comprised of members of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education wrote the first edition of the AGHE Standards and Guidelines document. In 1995, another special task force was appointed by the AGHE Executive Board to look into the possibility of developing a process for giving a "stamp of approval" to those programs which abided by the standards and guidelines document. In late 1998, the Program of Merit initiative was approved and the training of reviewers began. In summer of 1999, all the pieces were in place to begin reviewing institutions for the POM designation.

The Association developed this national initiative to recognize gerontology programs in higher education which have maintained a standard of excellence. In the summer of 1999, the Gerontology Program at Missouri State University was selected as the pilot program to be reviewed through this new process. While programs in the future would be reviewed by a team of three reviewers, the Missouri State program, as the pilot program, was reviewed by twenty reviewers. In November of 1999, Missouri State was recognized as the first program in the nation to receive the Program of Merit designation. In their evaluation of the Gerontology Program, reviewers cited such strengths as a well-developed curriculum, applied experience offered to students through the practicum placement and other service-learning opportunities, the scholarship of the gerontology faculty, academic performance of students, employment of students after graduation, and the ongoing commitment to community service by students and faculty.

The Program of Merit designation is a milestone for the program which achieved its twentieth anniversary in the year 2000. This accomplishment validates the hard work of the gerontology faculty and the students who have tried to create an applied and academic program which is one of the best in the nation. The Gerontology Program at Missouri State University was certified as a Program of Merit through 2012. (this reflects the extension we received)