Granger Cobb

Washington State University is creating the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living in the Carson College of Business Department of Hospitality Business Management.

R.D. Merrill Co. President Bill Pettit and New Perspective Senior Living Chief Operations Officer Chris Hyatt made the announcement at Wednesday’s general session of the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in Nashville, TN.

The institute name honors the late industry veteran, who founded assisted living company Cobbco; served as president, CEO and director of Summerville Senior Living; was president and CEO of Emeritus Senior Living; and then became a board member of Brookdale Senior Living when Emeritus and Brookdale merged. Cobb, a former chairman of Argentum’s board (when the organization was known as the Assisted Living Federation of America), died in September 2015 after an intermittent battle with cancer over several years.

As well known as Cobb was in the industry, Pettit said, some might be surprised to learn how involved he was with the education of future leaders. He recounted how in 2010 Cobb took several Pacific Northwest senior living leaders to Pullman, WA, where Washington State University is located, to meet with a dean. “Our mission simply was to help them understand that they had a role, if they wanted it, in helping train future leaders in senior living,” Pettit said. “They embraced it.”

Executives from four senior living companies, including Cobb, helped build the curriculum and taught a semester-long course in senior housing administration for juniors and seniors, Pettit said. Now, he added, the university has hired industry veteran Scott Eckstein to serve as clinical assistant professor and senior living executive-in-residence and offers a major in senior living management as well as an online certificate program for professionals already working in the industry.

“Granger would have wanted nothing more than to continue our relentless and passionate pursuit of recruiting, educating, training and developing our future seniors housing leaders,” Hyatt said. “He forecasted years ago that workforce challenges would challenge us more so as an industry.”

Pettit and Hyatt showed a video that featured Cobb talking about the educational program at Washington State and the importance of senior living operators partnering with such institutions; it is available for viewing online here. The Carson College of Business also has posted additional information about the planned institute on its website.

Also at the general session:

  • Argentum continued awarding its Best of the Best Awards. In the memory care category, Country Meadows Retirement Communities was recognized for its Unforgettable Adventures of Grandma’s Cape program. In the quality improvement category, Senior Lifestyle Corp. was honored for its Essence Aromatherapy program. For more information about the award winners, see the latest issue of Argentum’s Senior Living Executive magazine.
  • The organization also recognized the 16 people named to its inaugural list of Senior Living Leaders Under 40. For more information about the award winners, see the latest issue of Argentum’s Senior Living Executive magazine.

Additionally at the meeting, Life Care Services Chairman and CEO Ed Kenny received the Changemaker Award.

Wednesday evening, Argentum presented several awards at its Heroes Awards Gala:

  • The Distinguished Service Award was bestowed on Bill Sheriff, former leader of American Retirement Corp. and former co-CEO, consultant and board member of Brookdale.
  • The Senior Living Community Leadership Award was presented to Sharon Reynolds, executive director of Five Star Senior Living’s The Neighborhood at Somerset.
  • Hero Awards were given to Patricia Gatewood, resident care partner at Enlivant’s Preston Place; Tonia Gonzales, Autumn Leaves of Cypresswood life engagement manager, LaSalle Group; Dena Lofton, Lake Howard Heights director of health and wellness, Senior Lifestyle Corp.; Stephanie Pollard, Spring Arbor of Kinston Cottage care coordinator, HHHunt; Regina Rice, Brookdale Edgewood wellness nurse; and Stephen Venuti, Benchmark Senior Living Plymouth Crossings Harbor Care director.

The gala concluded this year’s meeting. Next year’s conference will be May 14 to 16 in San Diego.