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Colette Browne headshot
Colette Browne

Professor Emerita Colette V. Browne’s impactful legacy in gerontology, social work and public health is now accessible at the University Archives & Manuscript Collections of Hawaiʻi at the UH Mānoa Library. The papers spanning research, teaching and advocacy, underscore her commitment to the well-being of older adults and the advancement of personal and societal rights.

browna andt takamura
Browne with Jeanette Takamura, Department of Health and Human Services, at Presidentʻs Retirement Summit reception, White House, 1998.

“The collection reflects her steadfast commitment to gerontology through her prodigious focus on improving lives through practice, policy and research which inspired a generation of social workers to reach for a vision of social justice and health equity for our global community,” said UH Mānoa Library Archivist Helen Wong Smith.

Browne, who retired in 2020, served as a faculty member in the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health since 1985. Her research delved into the social determinants of health among midlife and elder populations, addressing gender and racial/ethnic vulnerabilities. She advocated for a sustainable long-term-care financing program, specifically tailored to Hawaiʻi and the nation. Her extensive scholarship, published in professional journals and presented at national and international conferences, significantly contributed to gerontology, social work and public health.

Her collection in the University Archives is organized into six series, and captures her contributions from 1980 to 2020. These include university and professional activities, publications, addresses and presentations, media coverage and images. The compilation reflects Browne’s profound impact on the academic, social and policy landscapes, emphasizing her dedication to promoting social justice and health equity for older adults and underserved populations.

black and white group photo
Bronwe (center) with School of Social work faculty and staff, 1987.

As a faculty member at UH Mānoa, Browne achieved numerous milestones. She established the State and Pacific Basins’ sole graduate gerontology training program, co-founded and served as the Principal Investigator of social work’s longest lasting federal grant, Hā Kūpuna—National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian elders, and served as director of the Center on Aging. Appointed as the Thompson school’s first Takasaki Endowed Professor in Social Policy, she focused on documenting economic inequalities faced by older adults.

Browne’s community engagement extended to leadership roles in Hawaiʻi and at the national level. She co-founded the Hawaiʻi Pacific Gerontological Society, served on boards, and was appointed to key positions by both state and federal authorities.

For her achievements, Browne received awards from:

  • UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award
  • Robert Clopton Community Service Award (UH)
  • Gerontological Society of America/Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
  • American Society on Aging
  • Hawai‘i Pacific Gerontological Society for Research
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