Elizabeth J. Bergman

Elizabeth J. Bergman

Associate Professor, Gerontology

Phone:(607) 274-3859
Office:216 Job Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850


Ph.D. in Aging Studies, University of South Florida (2008).

M.A. in Gerontology, University of South Florida (1998).

B.A. in Psychology, Auburn University (1996). 


I discovered a natural affinity for older adults in my childhood, as a violinist in a Suzuki violin ensemble in elementary school in Orlando, FL. The group frequently performed at retirement communities and long-term care facilities and I really enjoyed these early opportunities to interact with older people. I did not discover the field of Gerontology, however, until I was nearly done with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. At that time, I decided to pursue a career in Gerontology and enrolled in a Master's program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. During this time, I also worked as an activities director in an assisted living facility. I learned so much during these two years and had the opportunity to put what I was learning into practice immediately, an experience that would later inform my teaching style and commitment to experiential learning. I went on to hold several positions in the Aging Network - Information & Referral Specialist with the West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging; Senior Companion Program Coordinator and Foster Grandparent Program Director with Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay - before returning to graduate school for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Aging Studies. My primary motivations for pursuing a Ph.D. in Aging Studies were to (1) learn more about aging, (2) further refine the expertise and gain the credentials necessary to teach at the college level, and (3) develop research skills that I could employ in the service of older adults and their family caregivers.

I have been on the faculty in the Gerontology Institute at Ithaca College since 2008. I teach Aging Studies majors (B.A. and B.S. students), minors, and students who are taking one or more courses in aging to complement their studies in other fields. I find it incredibly gratifying to accompany students in their exploration of issues, concepts, and theories that will most assuredly impact their lives in many ways - personally, professionally, and otherwise. Every course I teach has an experiential learning component of some kind. By way of example, students in my courses have:

  • explored the life course perspective through small group discussions with residents of Longview (a retirement community across the street from Ithaca College). You can read more about the Longview/IC Partnership here: www.ithaca.edu/gerontology/longview/.
  • performed musical plays (Titus Towers & The Fountain of Youth) together with resident playwright and actors from Titus Towers (an independent living community for disabled and older adults in downtown Ithaca).
  • conducted and presented research in partnership with Hospicare & Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County
  • designed, conducted, and presented research on the topic of civic engagement among Kendal at Ithaca residents, at the request of the Kendal at Ithaca Residents' Association President.

On the right side of this page, I have included the syllabi for many of my most recent course offerings.

I have also been engaged in an active program of research, primarily focused on the bereavement service utilization patterns, needs, and preferences of family caregivers. I also have a secondary research interest in gerontological education and pedagogy. Some of my current publications include:

1) Bergman, E. J., Erickson, M. A., & Simons, J. N. (in press). Attracting and training tomorrow's gerontologists: What drives student interest in aging? Educational Gerontology.

2) Bergman, E. J., Haley, W. E., & Small, B. J. (2011). Who uses bereavement services? An examination of service use by bereaved dementia caregivers. Aging & Mental Health, 15, 531-540.

3) Bergman, E. J., Haley, W. E., & Small, B. J. (2010). The role of grief, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in the utilization of bereavement services. Death Studies, 34, 441-458.

4) Krout, J. A., Bergman, E., Bianconi, P., et al. (2010). Intergenerational service learning with elders: Multidisciplinary activities and outcomes. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 31, 55-74. (Winner of an Honorable Mention for the 2011 David A. Peterson Award for the best article in 2010 Gerontology & Geriatrics Education)

5) Bergman, E. J. & Haley, W. E. (2009). Depressive symptoms, social network, and bereavement service utilization and preferences among spouses of former hospice patients. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12, 170-176.

6) Haley, W. E., Bergman, E. J., Roth, D. L., McVie, T., Gaugler, J. E., & Mittelman, M. S. (2008). Long-term effects of bereavement and caregiver interventions on dementia caregiver depressive symptoms. The Gerontologist, 48, 732-740.