Our Stories – UConn Faculty: Laura KM Donorfio, Associate Professor, OLLI/HDFS

UConn Faculty Member: Laura KM Donorfio, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
How long have you been at UConn? 15 years
In a few words, tell us what you do and about your areas of expertise?
My areas of expertise are gerontology and intergenerational relationships. I run a service learning course yearly to connect students with Osher Lifelong Learning students (OLLI) at UConn Waterbury. UConn Waterbury is the only educational institution that has an OLLI associated/housed with/in it. OLLI members are 50+ individuals who seek lifelong learning and educational experiences.
What inspires you to come to UConn every day? My students and helping the community!
In a typical week, what kinds of activities do you usually engage in?
Interaction with students, interaction with OLLI, interaction with the community (I serve on a local board that provides grants to aging programs and older adults–Connecticut Community Foundation.)
Give us an example of your most notable scholarly or creative work?
My most notable scholarly/creative work is the intergenerational learning I promote throughout the year. Each fall my adulthood and aging course is a service learning class where the students are required to spend 20 face-to-face hours with members of OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). Students also have taught courses to the OLLI members (offshoot of my service learning class) and done countless fieldworks and independent studies.
What would you change about your work environment?
The value the University places on good, quality teaching and not just scholarship/grants.
What would you like your colleagues, the legislature, and the broader community to know about the work you do?
My teaching directly impacts students and who they “help” and “work with” in the community, including interaction with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I am the chair of an international committee (Intergenerational Learning, Research, and Community Engagement) within the Association for Gerontology of Higher Education (AGHE) which trains the next generation of aging scholars.
How can we learn more about your work?
Here is a link to a PowerPoint Presentation my students created via our service learning class highlighting what the experience did for both them and OLLI ( Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) older adults on the Waterbury campus. Check it out at Osher Lifelong Learning PPT