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Cathy A. Maxwell Appointed Robert L. and Joyce T. Rice Presidential Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging

Cathy A. Maxwell, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been appointed as the Robert L. and Joyce T. Rice Presidential Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging, effective July 1, 2024. Maxwell, a nationally recognized expert in geriatric trauma and aging, will lead interdisciplinary work at the college to advance research and improve care for aging adults.

Portrait of Cathy Maxwell

Dean of the College of Nursing Marla De Jong, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN, states, “Dr. Maxwell is an accomplished and visionary leader in the field of gerontology. Her interdisciplinary impact in health professions education and commitment to excellence in research will further our vision of designing, leading, and achieving improvements for the well-being of all.”

Dr. Maxwell's passion to help older adults understand changes in their bodies as they age and make knowledgeable choices underpins her research. Her work focuses on reducing the decline associated with aging and frailty, offering interventions that support healthy aging in adults over 50, and assisting healthcare providers in empowering older adults to manage the aging process.

Her effectiveness in teaching and mentorship is evident in the success of her students. She has mentored three postdoctoral fellows, taught courses at every level in nursing higher education, and co-leads a three-semester Community Health series for pre-specialty students. In 2022, she was awarded the Colleen Conway-Welch Faculty-Student Award at Vanderbilt School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee, which is based on PhD students’ nominations.

“I am honored to represent the legacy of Robert and Joyce Rice. I see each student as a unique individual with strengths and creativity and am eager to assist in their learning and advancement. Working alongside other researchers, nurse scientists, physicians, kinesiologists, and molecular biologists, I believe we can increase understanding of biological aging, refine standards of clinical practice, and positively impact public policy. I personally practice the lifestyle measures that I promote, and I use that dedication to empower aging adults in making decisions that directly and indirectly affect their health trajectories.”

Her extensive experience includes roles as principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and co-investigator on numerous externally and internally funded studies. Currently, Maxwell serves as a co-investigator on two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded studies (R01, R21) and one National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study. In the NIH R01 study, socially assistive robotic systems will be further developed to enhance care for older adults with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, or dementias in long term care facilities. In the NIH R21 study, head-mounted display augmented reality will be measured in enhancing family visits and quality of life for older adults in long-term care settings.

And finally, in the NSF study, augmented reality will be analyzed in reducing loneliness of older adults in long term care environments.

Her notable accolades include inductions as a Fellow into the National Academies of Practice and the American Academy of Nursing. Additionally, Maxwell received the Innovation Award from the National Hartford Center for Gerontological Nursing, underscoring her significant contributions and recognized expertise in gerontological nursing. “We are honored to welcome Dr. Maxwell to the University of Utah College of Nursing,” says Linda S. Edelman, Ph.D., MPhil, RN, and Director of the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing. “She is a renowned nurse researcher who will advance innovative discoveries and facilitate relationships among the University of Utah and community partners to improve the health of older adults in Utah.”

Maxwell earned a Diploma in Nursing from Georgia Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1978. She later obtained Bachelor of Science ('05) and Master of Science ('07) degrees from Troy University in Troy, Alabama, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nursing from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2012.