Kathleen O'Rourke, Ph.D.
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Dr. Kathleen O'Rourke, professor of Family and Consumer Sciences, currently serves as the coordinator for the graduate program in Aging Studies. The program is recognized as a National Program of Merit by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. The graduate program offers a Master of Arts in Aging Studies and is a multidisciplinary program with cooperating academic units including the School of Family and Consumer Sciences and the departments of Communication Studies, Health Studies, Kinesiology and Sports Studies, Psychology, and Secondary Education. The program is delivered online with just a three-day on-campus orientation and hybrid course experience.
Dr. O’Rourke holds a Ph.D. in Family Studies with a specialization in Gerontology from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Family and Consumer Sciences-Family Services from Eastern Illinois University. At the national level, Dr. O’Rourke has served on the board of Kappa Omicron Nu, the leading honor society in Human Services and the board of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Alliance.
Prior to joining the faculty at EIU, Dr. O’Rourke was employed by St. Mary's Hospital (currently Tennova Healthcare) in Knoxville, Tennessee as a Geriatric Case Manager for the Employee Assistance Program and as a Geriatric Consultant in the Division of Senior and Community Services. At St. Mary’s, Dr. O’Rourke’s primary responsibilities included: activity programming, cognitive assessment testing, and caregiver support group facilitation in a dementia-specific adult day program; community outreach education and support for caregivers and older adults; grant writing and fund development; home-based care coordination services and living environment assessments; and development/implementation of hospital-based intergenerational programs for older adults and young children. In addition to working in the health care field, Dr. O’Rourke held faculty positions at The University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the Department of Child and Family Studies and Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
Dr. O’Rourke’s areas of aging-related research expertise include: intergenerational programming between older adults with dementia and preschool-aged children; portrayal of older adults with dementia in popular media and children’s literature; and environmental organization principles of caregiving programs for young children and for older adults.