GSA Renames Mentorship Award in Honor of Dr. James Jackson

For Immediate Release
May 7, 2021

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has changed the name of its Minority Issues in Gerontology Outstanding Mentorship Award to the James Jackson Outstanding Mentorship Award — in honor of the late James Jackson, PhD, FGSA, who was a pioneering psychologist in the fields of race and culture and the impact of racial disparities on minority health, and himself a previous recipient of the award.

This award recognizes individuals who have exemplified outstanding commitment and dedication to mentoring minority researchers in the field of aging.

As part of the charge of the GSA Diversity and Justice Working Group established in 2020, the GSA Board of Directors recently approved the implementation of several of the working group’s initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion among the membership of GSA. Among these recommendations was to name the mentorship award after Jackson.

“The Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel is honored to name our mentoring award after Dr. James Jackson,” said the panel’s chair, Ronica Rooks, PhD, FGSA. “He was a tireless mentor to so many scholars in gerontology, and this award name change is a way to respect his legacy.”

Jackson passed away on September 1, 2020. He had a distinguished career based at the University of Michigan, where he was the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Psychology and professor emeritus of psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and research professor emeritus in the Institute for Social Research’s Research Center for Group Dynamics.

His research focused on issues of racial and ethnic influences on life course development, attitude change, reciprocity, social support, and coping and health among African Americans. He co-directed the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research and was a founder and leader of the Program for Research on Black Americans. His pioneering National Survey of Black Americans, begun in 1977, has generated a wide range of influential research.

He previously served as director of the Institute for Social Research, director of the Center for African and African American Studies, and a past president of the Association of Black Psychologists and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. In 2014, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation — a rare distinction for a social scientist.

Jackson was a mentor to numerous students, postdoctoral scholars, and junior faculty. He was the recipient of GSA’s Robert W. Kleemeier Award, the Minority Issues in Gerontology Outstanding Mentorship Award, and Behavioral and Social Sciences Section Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award.

Among his other honors, he received the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for Distinguished Career Contributions in Applied Psychology from the Association for Psychological Sciences; a presidential citation from the American Psychological Association; the Solomon Carter Fuller Award from the American Psychiatric Association; an Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and the Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Sciences from the New York Academy of Medicine. In 2002, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine and was the W.E.B. DuBois Fellow from the American Academy of Political and Social Science and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.

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