Letter of Nomination: Merry J. Sleigh, PhD
George Mason University
Dear Committee Members,
Dr. Merry Sleigh has been a Psi Chi Faculty Advisor of the George Mason University (GMU) Psi Chi chapter for the past two years and continuing through the present. Since her initial year taking over the Advisor position in the fall of 2000, Dr. Sleigh has made a tremendous difference in the productivity of the not only the organization, but the students as well. She has been a mentor to the officers, a role model to the members, and a supporter to all. The officers and members of our Psi Chi chapter nominate Dr. Merry Sleigh for the Regional Faculty Advisor Award.
As an advisor, teacher, and head of the Psychology department's Honor Program, Dr. Sleigh has been made an immeasurable impact to the functioning our Psi Chi chapter. Before she took the position of advisor, our chapter had very limited activity, disorganized record keeping, and little faculty advising. She helped transform a chapter marked by inactivity to an entirely new organization. With Dr. Sleigh's help, our chapter has connected with the university's support service for student organizations. Through our more visible presence on campus accomplished by service and vigorous advertising, we have doubled our membership in the past two years, and gained the respect of the department of psychology. In a 2001 faculty meeting at George Mason University, our Psi Chi chapter was recognized for "having its best year since it was chartered in the mid-1970s." Through her guidance and mentorship, the chapter was not only recognized locally, but nationally, when we received the Model Chapter award from the National Office for the 2001-2002 term.
Because Dr. Sleigh has helped toke our chapter thriving both on campus and in the community, we not only have an increased member participation, but several working relationships with organizations in the community and active non-member participation. An example of such a partnership would be our chapter's relationship with the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center. For three consecutive years, our chapter has designed and implemented a book drive to help collect donations to support the purchasing of books authored by a speaker who comes to give a motivational speech for the detained. Our chapter has also organized guest speakers to come motivate the children, as well as contribute time and volunteers to helping with the Center's programs. The Juvenile Detention Center views our chapter as a reliable source of volunteerism and support through our continued devotion to their needs. Dr. Sleigh has been a motivating force in establishing such partnerships as these with the community, partnerships that were not developed before she took the position of advisor.
Dr. Sleigh's effect on students reaches beyond her accomplishments in transforming our Psi Chi chapter. She is not only the head of the Honor's Program, but has helped develop the program in her first years as a professor at GMU. As head of the program, she has served as a support structure, mentor, advisor to some, and committee member to all, on the oral and written defense of more than 15 of the department's top students' senior theses each year. She guides these students on not only their independent research encompassing all areas of psychology, but also on the processes of getting into graduate school, and how to get presence in their field. Because of this role, she is cognizant of most of activities of the psychology department. This awareness has helped her become an even more effective Psi Chi advisor, when advising how to develop programs to best aid our members.
Dr. Sleigh's impact also is apparent in the field of psychology. She is not only an effective teacher of Principles of Learning, but is respected in both the fields of teaching psychology and animal learning. She was awarded a Psi Chi Advisor Research Grant for prenatal work with leopard geckos in the Summer of 2002. She has presented her research in both fields at countless conferences and published many articles in referred journals such as Teaching for Psychology and the Journal for Comparative Psychology. Dr. Sleigh accomplishes these strides in her professional work while simultaneously being an available mentor and advisor to Psi Chi and her Honor students. While accomplishing her own professional goals, she continues to encourage student participation at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
The George Mason University chapter of Psi Chi feels privileged and honored to have such an involved, conscientious, and dedicated advisor as Dr. Merry Sleigh. Her accomplishments as a mentor, teacher, supporter, and advisor to the students at George Mason University attest to her deservingness of this award.
Psi Chi Chapter Secretary