Alumni Couple Endows Center for Creativity and Aging

Jay Linden ’72 and Judith Samilow Linden ’73 establish a center devoted to the relationship between creativity and aging.

Martha Graham danced until she was 75. Picasso painted into his 80s. Antonio Stradivari was making his world-famous violins at 92.

Creativity certainly doesn’t stop with increasing years. To better understand and explore the relationship between creativity, especially in the arts, and aging, Jay Linden and Judith Samilow Linden have established the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging.

The Linden Center, a collaboration with the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, will not only support research in this area but also develop public programs to introduce elders to creative arts and engage IC students with elders.

“As life expectancies increase, Americans are increasingly likely to live active, stimulating lives into their golden years,” Jay Linden says. “Judi and I wanted to establish this center in the hope of encouraging interesting research on the relationship between the creative arts and an enhanced quality of life among older adults. We also think it’s important for students to understand the opportunities that the aging of the population creates for them in fields such as communications, business, and health sciences.” 

Judith Linden adds, “We wanted to establish the center at our alma mater because Ithaca College is uniquely suited for this enterprise. With its strong programs in music, theater, media, and the arts, along with the distinctive strength of the Gerontology Institute, the College is well positioned to serve as a national resource for scholars, students and community partners to explore research and activities around creativity and aging.”

John Krout, professor of gerontology and director of the Gerontology Institute, points out, “Many people are now living into their 80s and 90s with reasonably good health. We have a cultural imperative to explore and better understand how older people can continue to flourish creatively and remain engaged in and contribute to their communities. Very few academic centers are engaged in studying creativity and aging with a focus on the humanities.”

The Gerontology Institute already engages elders and students together, Krout notes. Art shows featuring older artists, a comprehensive programmatic partnership with Longview, and courses are a few examples of the foundation the Linden Center will build on. Another exciting program is the Enduring Masters series, conducted jointly with the School of Music, which brings older musicians to campus to perform and give talks and master classes. The Linden Center will foster collaborations with local arts agencies to assist leaders, educators, and performers in increasing the opportunities for senior artists.

“Involvement in creative activities can contribute significantly to well-being across a person’s life span,” says Krout. “An older person doesn’t have to be Picasso to embark on new creative pursuits or continue lifelong creative endeavors. With predictions of an enormous growth in the elder population by 2030, the Linden Center will be on the forefront of looking at the potential positive impacts of this historic national trend.”

Longtime advocates for Ithaca College, the Lindens have generously supported their alma mater since their graduation with several special gifts, including the Jay Linden Sales and Marketing Scholarship and the Judi and Jay Linden Scholarship in Gerontology. Judith is the executive director of Midori and Friends, a nonprofit music education organization founded by the internationally renowned violinist Midori. Jay is executive vice president of NBC Universal’s Strategic Partnership Group, which works with advertisers to develop integrated media programs that address their key business objectives.