2009-10 Denmark Winner's Letter of Nomination
The Winthrop University chapter of Psi Chi is honored to nominate Dr. Merry Sleigh for the Florence L. Denmark Faculty Advisor Award. Dr. Sleigh has actively served as the chapter advisor for Winthrop University since 2004 and advised George Mason University’s chapter for six years before that.
From the beginning, Dr. Sleigh has made many improvements to Winthrop’s chapter of Psi Chi. She dramatically increased membership by personally contacting students who are eligible to join Psi Chi and emphasizing the honor and benefits of being a member of Psi Chi. She increased financial resources by encouraging the chapter to raise member dues and initiate an annual fundraiser, which gave our chapter the ability to offer more services and activities to our members. Dr. Sleigh organized the chapter by creating well-structured student officer positions. She also encouraged the chapter to take on the responsibility of maintaining the departmental bulletin boards, starting a newsletter, and creating a Facebook group, to increase Psi Chi’s visibility on campus. Dr. Sleigh has influenced us to reach out to the local community through different services such as book drives and can drives. She has also assisted in launching a scholarship fund program to award a psychology student with a scholarship from the money that we collected through fund raising. The effects of these early improvements can still directly be seen today.
Under Dr. Sleigh’s leadership, our chapter has been recognized regionally by receiving the Southeastern Regional Chapter Award and nationally by receiving the Model Chapter Award for the past four years. Dr. Sleigh facilitated these awards by maintaining a high level of quality leadership in the chapter, despite the continual turnover as a result of graduating officers.
As our Psi Chi advisor, Dr. Sleigh motivates students to become strong leaders and she prepares us for life after college. She uses her knowledge from past experiences with our chapter and others to help steer us in the right direction. However, she completely supports us when attempting a new suggestion or when we revisit an old idea. Dr. Sleigh does so much for Psi Chi as a whole, but it is what she does for each individual student that makes her an outstanding advisor. Dr. Sleigh’s door is always open for students with questions ranging from Psi Chi involvement to class scheduling. She is known for taking time to help students prepare for graduate school by informing them of the steps it takes to get into grad school, writing letters of recommendation, and giving grad school preparation advice. Dr. Sleigh’s office is frequently filled with students from her research methods class as she helps them to analyze and understand their data. Not only does she help students prepare for the future, she also cares for each student’s well-being. Her availability and genuine concern for her students is what makes her exceptional to this chapter of Psi Chi and to Winthrop University. She was awarded the College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Advisor Award in 2008, a student-nominated award.
Dr. Sleigh has a hands-on approach to advising our chapter of Psi Chi. She attends all of our meetings, fundraisers, induction ceremonies, community service and social events. Students can tell that she enjoys what she does, not only in the classroom but at all of our chapter’s events. One of Dr. Sleigh’s favorite things to do at our events is take pictures of all the fun and post them on the Psychology Department’s bulletin board and the newsletter, then give extra copies to the students. She expresses her appreciation to all the officers and shares in our delight over a successful event. Her gratitude and excitement for psychology and Psi Chi is what keeps the officers motivated to do well.
Another way that Dr. Sleigh gets students involved in Psi Chi is through her passion for research. During her seven years at Winthrop, she has co-authored numerous publications and 124 research presentations with over 190 undergraduate students. Dr. Sleigh motivates students to participate in research and strongly encourages them to submit it to conferences. With her experience and knowledge of research, she is known among the students as an ideal faculty member with whom to discuss research ideas, and is always available to help students with IRB requirements. She plays an active role in finding funding for students to present their research at conferences. She stresses the benefits of research and her enthusiasm for research rubs off on her students. However, her involvement does not stop there. She attends the conferences with students. Her student researchers have received ten Psi Chi Regional Research Awards at the Southeastern Psychological Association conferences in 2007, 2009 and 2010. (In 2008, she was on maternity leave.)
Furthermore, Dr. Sleigh was a National Awards Committee member, is currently the Southeastern Representative on the Election Committee, and serves as a Reviewer for the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. In addition, Dr. Sleigh and her students have published in the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research and Eye on Psi Chi. These Eye on Psi Chi articles are targeted toward helping faculty advisors, chapter officers, and Psi Chi members.
Dr. Sleigh has already received the Psi Chi Regional Faculty Advisor Award in 2003 and 2010. We now would like to nominate Dr. Sleigh for the Florence L. Denmark Faculty Advisor Award because of her extraordinary impact that she has had not only on our chapter of Psi Chi, but the major influence that she has had on psychology as a science and the tremendous role that she has played in the lives of her students.
Psi Chi Chapter President