1995 Cousins National Chapter Award
How to Become a Successful Psi Chi Chapter
Julie Ann Bauer, 1994-95 Chapter President
1995 Cousins Award Winner
Winning Chapter's Essay
Texas Christian University Psi Chi Chapter
The challenge to Psi Chi chapters across the United States is to produce an involved and committed organization. The difficulty organizations like Psi Chi face is that beyond the initial induction of members, the chapter itself must produce the incentive for members to remain involved. Unlike some organizations that will expel members from their ranks or slap them with sizable fines for lack of commitment, a Psi Chi member is a member forever regardless of his or her personal commitment to the local chapter. Herein lies the challenge.
The successful Psi Chi chapter must be based upon a solid foundation of leadership. The officers of the organization must recognize the potential of Psi Chi. Membership in Psi Chi goes beyond a simple line on a resume. It allows undergraduates to explore the field of psychology and define their own interests. It allows psychologists to become involved in the education of their future colleagues. It allows students to know one another better and form lasting friendships that overcome the divisions of psychological theory. When the potential of the organization is truly understood, it is the objective of the officers to communicate this understanding through publicity and programming.
Publicity is the initial key to any successful organization. Signs announcing meetings must be posted clearly and well in advance of the actual meeting. Students should show support for the organization through word of mouth or advertising like Psi Chi T-shirts. Publicity campaigns ought to be run in the beginning of each semester with students announcing meeting times and requirements for membership in classrooms. Nonmembers not yet eligible for membership ought to be encouraged to participate. Calling trees for reminding members of meetings can be essential to the functioning of an organization. Yet, publicity is not enough. It may get members to the meeting, but programming is what will keep them there.
Programming is critical to any successful organization. Psychologists from the university and the community should address Psi Chi members on topics of interest to those members. Mentoring relationships between older and younger members, mainly in terms of applications to graduate school and job hunting, should be cultivated. Apart from the business side of Psi Chi, members who form friendships with other members will stay committed to the organization. Therefore, Psi Chi must be a social organization offering after-meeting mixers and maybe a few weekend parties.
If members are involved, they will stay committed. Psi Chi must maintain the involvement of its members. Two ways to do this are through a newsletter and by honoring committed members and faculty. Psi Chi news can be distributed to members (and even nonmembers/potential members) in the form of a newsletter. Members can participate by writing about faculty and student research as well as writing about Psi Chi programs and plans. Honors can be bestowed to both students and faculty alike, such as awarding honor cords to involved graduating seniors and having students vote for the "Professor of the Year."
Our chapter's greatest success is the annual Student Convention we sponsor each spring. Members work all year on bringing the convention to fruition. We raise the money, we invite our guest speaker, we gain the support of the campus and the administration, but most importantly we involve our members. This convention demonstrates the potential of any Psi Chi chapter. Although we are a smaller university compared to some, our chapter is stronger than universities of thirty thousand people and more. Our officers understand the role Psi Chi can play in our lives and in the lives of the students on our campus. Even if hosting a convention is unrealistic for your chapter, every effort should be made to encourage attendance at regional conventions, even if only to listen and not to present.
Commitment, publicity, and programming are the keys to a successful chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, as they are the keys to the success of any organization. Yet, the implementation of these ideas must fit the particular chapter. We can only say what makes our chapter a success in hopes that these ideas will lead others to discover their own path. Therefore, we extend to you the challenge to create your own exceptional chapter, and we look forward to learning about your success.