West Side execs help plan, teach class on senior living

Jerry Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Redmond-based Aegis
Living, is one of four senior living management company executives travelling
from the Puget Sound area to teach in Pullman this semester.
PULLMAN, Wash. – Executives from four major senior care services companies headquartered in the Puget Sound area have become ad hoc members of the faculty of Washington State University this fall.
They are teaching a course they developed in collaboration with the university for a new class being offered through the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management (SHBM).
“This is a very unique opportunity and a true industry/academic partnership,” said Nancy Swanger, director of the SHBM and instructor of record for the course. “With our aging boomer population, the demand for students with this type of management training is potentially huge.
“We are perhaps the only public institution in the country with a senior living course as an option in its hospitality curriculum – certainly the only one on the west coast,” she said.
The class, HBM 497 Senior Living Management, deals with a rapidly growing segment of the non-nursing-home senior living services industry – assisted living, independent living and memory care. The class trains students in managing the burgeoning number of senior living communities nationally serving seniors who do not require skilled nursing or other 24-hour on-site medical services.
When the class met this week on the Pullman campus, it was taught by Aegis Living President and COO Jerry Meyer; Emeritus President Granger Cobb; 180/Leisure Care Senior Vice President Jason Childers, and Merrill Gardens President Bill Pettit. The four executives, or other senior representatives of their companies, will return to Pullman weekly throughout fall semester to teach the course.
In addition to participating in developing the curriculum and providing classroom instruction, Swanger said that, in mid-September, the four companies will host those enrolled in the class to a tour of some of the senior living communities they operate in western Washington. The visit will include lodging and meals.
The companies also have agreed to award scholarships of $2,500 to four students enrolled in the class, she said.
While there are only about a dozen students enrolled, Swanger said interest in a career in senior living management is growing quickly among hospitality business management students. Many of them view it as a field potentially more recession-resistant than the traditional hotel and restaurant industries.
WSU is also in discussions with the four companies about developing additional programs to provide continuing educational opportunities for those already working in the management of senior living facilities, Swanger said.
Source contact:
Nancy Swanger, WSU School of Hospitality & Business Management, 509-335-2443, swanger@wsu.edu

Media contact:
Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-335-3583, rstrenge@wsu.edu