More than 400 Orange County retirees gathered at Cal State Fullerton on Sunday to mark the opening of a $2.5-million gerontology center for learning and research, the first of its kind in the county.
Charles L. Ruby unveiled the sign for the Ruby Gerontology Center, named after him and his late wife, Rachael, for their $250,000 donation for the center.
"I've seen this grow and materialize," the 87-year-old retired lawyer and former Fullerton College business-law professor told the crowd. "And this is not just to help older people but an education program to help younger people learn to grow older."
Building the center was a combined effort by the university and its Continued Learning Experience program for retired professionals who continue to pursue education.
"This is a very friendly building," Cal State President Jewel Plummer Cobb told the audience. "This is a very warm building, and it's all on one level . . . because as time goes by, our members of the gerontology program may find it less and less easy to climb stairs."
Cobb noted that demographers estimate that 20% or more of the county will be 65 or older by the year 2020.
Fullerton Academic Senate Chairman John W. Bedell called the opening of the center a fitting response to the physical and cultural changes of the older population: "It's simply what we ought to be doing."
The center will offer undergraduate and graduate education, including a professional certificate program, research and continued-education programs.
Research will focus on such non-medical areas as psychology, sociology, economics and demographics.
"This country will experience a monumental change in aging," said Cyril F. Brickfield, honorary president of the American Assn. of Retired Persons. "The graying of America is raising very many political, economic and social issues . . . and it's up to us to come up with new and unique solutions. I say this Ruby Gerontology Center will help meet those solutions."