Dr. Cathy Tompkins

Portrait of Catherine Tompkins
Titles and Organizations

Associate Dean for Faculty and Staff Affairs, College of Public Health
Professor, Social Work

Contact Information

Email: ctompkin@gmu.edu
Phone: 703-993-2838
Mailstop: MS 2G7
Campus: Fairfax
Office: Peterson Hall Room 5411

Personal Websites


Dr. Tompkins is a gerontological social worker and has extensive experience leading community-based projects related to older adults and their care partners. She has been a faculty member at George Mason University for more than 20 years. Dr. Tompkins is a qualitative researcher and teaches both in-person and online classes. Her expertise is in areas related to grandparent-headed households, non-pharmacological interventions for older adults, and dementia caregiving. She received her MSW and PhD from the University of Maryland's School of Social Work. Dr. Tompkins is a John A. Hartford Geriatric Scholar in Social Work and is currently the Editor and Chief of Ageing International.


Dr. Tompkins’ research areas focus on grandparent-headed households, non-pharmacological interventions for older adults, and dementia caregiving.

Select Publications

  • Ihara, E.S., Tompkins, C.J., Pantleay, H*., Barrett, K.*, Holden, M.*, Velazquez-Dominguez, V.*, Ivey, K., Wates, L., Marrs, S.A. (2024).  “Don’t Treat Us Like Fragile Babies”:  Mentors’ Perspectives of Senior Mentor Programs for Health Students.  Journal of Intergenerational Relationships.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15350770.2024.2310654  
  • Dhokai, N., Matto H. C., Ihara, E. S., Tompkins, C. J., Caswell, S. V., Cortes, N., Davis, R., Coogan, S. M., Fauntroy, V. N., Glass, E., Lee, J., Baraniecki-Zwil, G.*, & Ambegaonkar, J. P. (2023). Community arts engagement supports personal growth in older adults. Journal of Aging Studies.
  • Inoue, M., Waithaka, E., Ihara, E. S., Tompkins, C. J., Donnelly, C., & Spinelli, L. (2023). Exploring students’ experience of study abroad: Short programs in Japan. The International Journal of Diversity in Education. 
  • Inoue, M., Li, M-H, Layman, S., Tompkins, C., & Ihara, E. (2022). Characteristics of nursing facilities and staff willingness to implement a non-pharmacological intervention. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1177/23337214221146410
  • Ambergaonkar, J., Matto, H., Ihara, E., Tompkins, C.J. Caswell, S., Cortes, N., Davis, R., Coogan, S., Fauntroy, V., Glass, E., Lee, J., Baraniecki-Zwil, G. & Dhokai, N. (2022). Dance, music, and social conversation program participation positively affects physical and mental health in community-dwelling older adults:  A randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. https://doi.org/10.12678/1089-313X.121522f
  • Waters, L., *, Marrs. S.A., Tompkins, C.J., Fix, R., Finucane, S. Coogle C.L, Grunden, K., Ihara, E.S., McIntyre, M., Parsons, P., & Slattum, P. (2022).  Creating Interprofessional Readiness to Advance Age-Friendly U.S. Healthcare.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19, 5258.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095258
  • Vander Linden, K. & Tompkins, C.J. (2021). Collaborative Grounded Theory. Grounded Theory Review. 20(2), 32-42. http://groundedtheoryreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/04-Vander-Linden-and-Tompkins-Collaborative-Grounded-Theory-12-2021.pdf
  • Inoue, M., Hasegawa, M., Tompkins, C.J., & Donnelly, C.M.  (2021).  Culturally responsive companion program for a Japanese nursing home resident with dementia.  Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.  doi: 10.1007/s10823-021-09434-y
  • Matto, H., Ihara, E., Tompkins, C.J., McNeil, K., Lopez-Piper, A., Eber, M., Dhokai, N., Davis, R., Cortes, N., Caswell, S., Coogan, S., Fauntroy, V., Glass, E., Baraniecki-Zwil, G., & Ambegaonkar, J. (2021).  A novel participant-empowered pedagogical approach to engage and retain control group participants in Arts-based randomized controlled trials (RCTs).  Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 1-9. doi: 10.1177/1044389421997356
  • Vander Linden, K., & Tompkins, C.J. (2020). Doing one’s best: Becoming a kinship caregiver. Grounded Theory Review, 19(2), 57–72. http://groundedtheoryreview.com/category/volume-19/issue-2-december-2020.  


Tompkins, C.J. & Rosen, A. (2007). Fostering Social Work Gerontology Competence. An Edited Monograph for Haworth Press. Binghamton, NY.

Kropf, N.P. & Tompkins, C.J. (2002). Teaching Aging: Syllabi, Resources & Infusion Materials for the Social Work Curriculum. Council on Social Work Education: Alexandria, VA

Honors and Awards

  • Excellence in Memory Care Award, 2016, Insight Memory Care Center
  • Educator of the Year Award, 2016, Virginia Social Work Education Consortium
  • Fellowship; Social Research, Policy, & Practice, 2015, The Gerontological Society of America
  • Mentoring Award, 2012, GMU Office of Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR)
  • Research Day Poster Award, 2011, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University
  • Presidential Medal of Honor for Gerontological Curriculum Development, 2008, Baccalaureate Program Directors
  • Habit of Excellence Award, 2007, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University
  • Mit Joyner Gerontological Leadership Award, 2006, Baccalaureate Program Directors
  • Fellow, 2005, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
  • Aging Committee Faculty Development Award (Social Work), 2003, Baccalaureate Program Directors
  • Textbook Project Evaluation Award (Evaluation of Aging Content), 2003, Haworth Press
  • Faculty Development Award, 2001, Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work
  • Recognition Award, 1997, The Eldercare Alliance, Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Outstanding Student in Gerontology Award, 1995, University of Maryland School of Social Work Geriatrics, Gerontology, Education and Research (GGEAR)


          Council on Social Work Education

  • Member

          The Gerontological Society of America

  • Member

          Association for Gerontology in Higher Education

  • Member

          Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work

  • Member

         Generations United

  • Member

         Baccalaureate Program Directors

  • Virginia Social Work Education Consortium


  • PhD, Social Work, University of Maryland
  • MSW, Social Work/Specialization in Aging, University of Maryland
  • BA, Psychology, University of Maryland