The Institute for Spirituality and Health
Exploring the connections between spirituality and health.

Andy Achenbaum


Andy Achenbaum, PhD

Andy Achenbaum is completing his third year as Scholar in Residence, his fifteenth as a faculty associate and supporter of the Institute. The august title he is privileged to hold comes with no formal responsibilities. That said, Andy is offering a 5-week seminar on "spirituality and aging" in the fall 2018 program, and he enjoys working with the staff in planning events that matter.

Andy received his B.A. from Amherst College, an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan.  After learning how to teach at Canisius, and developing a public-history program at Carnegie Mellon University, Achenbaum returned to Ann Arbor as a professor of history and deputy director of the University's Institute of Gerontology.  He moved to Texas in 1999 to serve as the founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston.  As the Gerson and Sabina David Professor of History, Aging,  and Social Work, Andy taught courses in gerontology and spirituality in the University's Graduate College of Social Work.  He retired in 2017.

Andy's research and teaching focused on issues at the interstices of the humanities and gerontology.  Over his 40-year career, he wrote six books, edited fifteen volumes, and published more than 200 articles.  Winning prizes for his teaching and scholarship, he was especially gratified to receive the Gerontological Society's Kent Award in 2007.  On advisory boards in the public and private sectors, Achenbaum served as board chair of the National Council on Aging.  In Houston, he has appointments in the University of Texas Health Sciences' department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care and the Institute for Medical Humanities.  He has also served on boards in Houston, including the Center for Hope and Healing, the Alzheimer's Association, and Interfaith Care Partners.  He volunteers at food banks in conjunction with his active engagement in Saint James's Episcopal Church.

Andy is married to Barbara Lewis, a psychotherapist who retired as rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.  He has two daughters and two grandchildren. In a nod to staying healthy, Andy works out at the downtown Y.