Associate Professor Emerita Phoebe Liebig’s decades of service to the University were recognized at the 34th Annual USC Academic Honors Convocation at Town and Gown on April 15, 2015. Liebig received one of four Faculty Lifetime Achievement Awards in honor of her service to the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and her numerous and impactful contributions to the wider gerontology and public policy fields.
Her work at USC began in 1971 when she became a grants specialist for the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center. After completing her PhD in Public Administration at USC in 1983, she joined the Davis School of Gerontology faculty as a research assistant professor.
As a faculty member, Liebig has taken on numerous leadership roles, including directing the USC Pacific Geriatric Education Center, directing information outreach for the USC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and being a co-principal investigator of the USC Fall Prevention Center of Excellence. Along with her work at the Davis School and USC, Liebig also spent two years as a senior economics policy analyst for the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Among her many honors, Liebig has received two Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards, is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, and is a recipient of the Clark Tibbitts Award, Distinguished Teacher Award, and Mildred M. Seltzer Distinguished Service Recognition Award of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education as well as an AGHE Fellow.
“In many ways I was very surprised by this recognition. I was a “late bloomer” having gotten my PhD when I was 50, so although I was in the field of gerontology for many years before that, I had less time to establish a lengthy academic career,” Liebig said. “My recognition also is a tribute to my parents who expected me to do my best and taught me to be a critical thinker, and to my mentors, Jim Birren and David Peterson. I am also delighted to be one of 14 USC women faculty who have been so honored in the past 34 years.”
Her pre-retirement research largely focused on public policies and their effects on older adults in communities throughout the U.S. and across the world, including Fulbright-supported study in India. Over the years, she has also encouraged her many student mentees to address the effects of public policy in their own research and take an active role in advocating for evidence-based policies in government, especially at the local and state level.
“A major facet of my career has been the professional and personal relationships I have had with my USC students, as well as students and colleagues from other countries,” Liebig said. “The two areas of research that I hope will have the greatest impact are my years of research on state-level policies in aging and shining a spotlight on aging issues in India, particularly for non-Indian audiences.”
Since retiring from USC as an associate professor emerita in 2006, Liebig remains a familiar presence at USC and the Davis School. She has served as president of USC’s Retired Faculty Association from 2011 to 2014 and as a member of the USC Emeriti Center Advisory Committee for several years.
She is also still vibrantly involved with her gerontology work; her recent research has focused on creativity and aging. She has continued to publish journal articles and book chapters as well as present at professional meetings on aging in India, aging in place, nursing home deficiencies, the humanities and aging, and more. She also serves on the editorial boards of The Gerontologist and the Journal of Aging & Social Policy as well as several committees within the Gerontological Society of America and Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.