Dr. Vira Rodgers Kivett died May 18.
She was not only a UNCG faculty member but a triple alumnus who received a bachelor’s of science from Woman’s College in 1955, and a master’s of science and Ph.D from UNC Greensboro.
Dr. Kivett began her career as a UNCG employee as campus dietician and became director of the dining halls at Woman’s College. She served in various capacities on campus, including as the lead teacher at the nursery school and as a part-time instructor in Foods and Nutrition, She received her master’s degree in 1960, and after serving as a visiting professor in social gerontology at NC State University, she became Research Instructor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at UNCG. Before her retirement in 1999, she held the appointment of Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Kivett was the first gerontological researcher at UNCG, an internationally recognized scholar in the field of social gerontology, and one of the foremost scholars on rural aging in the United States. In 1989, she was cited by the Family Science Review as “one of 16 most eminent family scholars in the U.S.”
Her research, service, and contributions to policy on behalf of older adults contributed to her being recognized with the Oliver Max Gardner Award, the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member in the UNC System. She was also recognized by the U.S. Community Services Administration for a background paper she did for the 1981 White House Conference on Aging, by the State of North Carolina’s State Goals and Policy Board, and by the Greensboro Committee on the Status of Women. In 1997, she was named a Fulbright Scholar to The University of Kent, Canterbury, England where she assisted with the research team in developing health policies at the London School of Economics.
Dr. Kivett was the recipient of many awards from gerontology organizations, UNCG’s School of Health and Human Sciences’ Lifetime Legacy Award, and the Alumni Association’s Women of Distinction Award. In 2012, she was inducted into the Southern Gerontological Society’s Hall of Fame.
“A chronology of her career and a list of Vira’s awards, as amazing as both are, do not comprise an adequate professional eulogy for her. She touched many lives; strangers benefited from her research and advocacy and those who were fortunate to know her personally benefited from her kindness and unwavering support. We all have stories to tell about how Vira guided us, encouraged us, served as a role model for us, and changed our lives.”
-Dr. Rebecca Adams
At UNCG, Kivett and her husband Allen established the Vira R. Kivett Outstanding Graduate Publication Award in Human Development and Family Studies to recognize the best student peer-reviewed journal publication of the year. Award winners are chronicled here: https://hhs.uncg.edu/hdf/graduate/scholarships/