The Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas was initiated in 1977 to design, sponsor, and maintain programs of research, education, and service that address changes in structure, behavior, and function over the life course. The need for an interdisciplinary Center devoted to age-related research and training was and continues to be especially strong in Kansas where the proportion of persons 65 and older is higher than the national average.
Some of its many early accomplishments include hosting the Midwest Council for Social Research on Aging, an inter-university training program of the National Institute on Aging. This consortium of Midwestern universities coordinated training in social gerontology for pre- and post-doctoral fellows. MCSRA eventually placed more than 100 alumni in teaching and administrative positions around the U.S. Regionally, the Gerontology Center provided service and technical assistance to such entities as the Kansas Department on Aging, offices on aging in Douglas and Johnson Counties, and the Topeka Veterans Administration.
In 1990, the Gerontology Center joined the newly-formed Institute for Life Span Studies (LSI). Within the supportive environment of LSI, the program was able to build a strong faculty that eventually consisted of six research scientists whose appointments were shared with academic departments.
A doctoral program in Gerontology, one of only a handful in the nation at the time, was launched in 1997. The university conferred the first Ph.D. in Gerontology in 2001.
In 2017, the Gerontology Center separated from LSI and transitioned into being an independent Gerontology Program.