President Drugovich Speaks on Panel for 'Engaging Aging as a Community'

President Drugovich Speaks on Panel for 'Engaging Aging as a Community'

January 29, 2013

Today, Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich and other Otsego County leaders addressed local business owners and community members in a panel discussion titled "Engaging Aging as a Community."

The discussion, which was introduced by Barbara Ann Heegan, executive director of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Claudia S. Blumenstock, NHA, president & CEO of Copernicus, Inc., served as the second gathering in a two-part series. The panel was held in the Celebration Room of the Shineman Chapel on the Hartwick College campus. It focused on the age-friendliness of the Otsego County community and initiated dialogue about the ways to fully integrate older adults into the community.

Serving on the panel, in addition to Hartwick's Dr. Drugovich, were Dr. Lisa Curch, chair and associate professor of sociology at SUNY-Oneonta, Michelle Thibault, director of continuing education and summer session at SUNY-Oneonta, Sandra Fleisher, president of the Center for Continuing Adult Learning (CCAL) and Judith Sweet, RN, BSN and community liaison for At Home Care.

Throughout the meeting, each panel member was allowed time to respond to questions posed by Blumenstock. When asked "What services does your institution offer to enhance learning and education for the aging community?", Drugovich noted her long-standing passion for this topic of study, and shared that she began her career in the field of elderly studies.

"In addition to our numerous art and athletic events which are free and open to the public, we also offer free enrollment (non-credit) to those above the age of 62 in courses across our campus in order to promote continued learning," shared Drugovich. "I see Hartwick as an anchor tenant in this community. We all have a stake in our local elderly community in order to contribute toward a healthy and stimulating experience and to add to the overall quality of life throughout our area."

After an active discussion from both the panel members and the audience surrounding additional opportunities and obstacles for the full integration of older adults within our community, President Drugovich addressed the need to strengthen and solidify multi-agency and institutional coordination and collaboration in Otsego County and beyond.

"Students today are sensitive to their environments, and are more tuned in with the greater world around them than I have ever seen in the past," commented Drugovich. "We can make the most of this by continuing to think about and create opportunities to connect these two groups [students and the aging population]."

Looking forward, those in attendance shared a number of key points from the discussion in order to begin to turn current research and conversations into action.

"It is an exciting time to be involved in connecting the elderly and aging communities with others, including students," said Heegan. "Today's panel truly took the conversation topic to a new level. Events, like the panel discussion this morning, allow us to gather, open up, and share new ideas and information to reach a common solution. The local chamber wants to facilitate connections, and I believe that today's event accomplished this."

Blumenstock shared this sentiment as she assisted in concluding the discussion. "Today, we are continuing to lay the foundation to spring board these discussions into action," she said. "I felt a true willingness for collaboration and joint efforts throughout today's conversations. I see real opportunity in the future for growth and engagement of the aging community throughout Otsego county."

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce serves to continually improve the overall business climate in the region; to strive for an atmosphere which attracts investment; to build a positive, forward-thinking business community; and to partner with government, groups, individuals and institutions.

For additional information on the event, contact Hartwick College Media Relations Manager Valerie Capullo at 607-431-4031 or

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031