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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 1997
Accomplishing Our Purpose
Karen A. Jackson, Psi Chi President, Texas Woman's University

Greetings from the Southwest. It is certainly summer in Texas, where we are having our typical steamy hot and unpredictable season. As I was working in my herb garden considering what I wanted to tell you in this message, I decided that a look into the future of the Society was my first choice. Ever since I was a child, I have been an avid reader of fairy tales and fantasy novels. Using a fanciful mind as a backdrop, I decided to reflect on the past and the future. During the past 27 years of being associated with Psi Chi, including 20 years as a faculty advisor and seven years on the National Council as Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President and as President-Elect and National President, I have seen how our honor society has greatly changed. As a member of the Association of National Honor Societies (ACHS), Psi Chi, along with the other ACHS member societies, provides an avenue to promote scholarship and honor to highly achieving students, who in our society are interested in the field of psychology. Over the last five years, our society has been undergoing an evolutionary process, from a society that actively worked toward achieving our purpose to a society that is developing an ever-evolving purpose. A portion of our current purpose stresses maintaining excellence in scholarship and advancing the science of psychology. I would like to talk about each of these areas and describe how Psi Chi is accomplishing them.

Since the early '90s, the Psi Chi National Council has worked diligently on creating new opportunities for students to attain excellence. In addition to the Psi Chi/Edwin B. Newman Award for Graduate Research and the Psi Chi! J. P. Guilford Awards for Undergraduate Research, the Allyn & Bacon Awards were added as an additional opportunity to provide national recognition for undergraduate student research. The Psi Chi National Council members, with input from others interested in Psi Chi, realized that additional opportunities were needed. During the 1993-94 year the Regional Research Awards were established with 17 winners being provided cash awards for presenting their research at the Psi Chi paper/poster sessions provided during the six regional psychology conventions. By the 1996-97 year, the number of Regional Research Awards had expanded to 75 winners, and the Psi Chi National Council had added eight National Convention Research Awards for the outstanding presentations at the Psi Chi paper/poster sessions of the APA and the APS conventions. In 1996, the Thelma Hunt Research Awards were added to enable members to complete research that addresses questions directly related to Psi Chi. During the 1997 year, the Council approved adding the Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant program to provide funds for members to defray the cost of conducting a research project. The deadline for this new award is October 1. In addition to these awards, all presentations at regional and national Psi Chi paper or poster sessions are recognized with certificates given to each presenter. In the last several years, many dreams of former Psi Chi Council members were fulfilled. These new programs are now operational and will be evaluated and expanded over the next few years, according to the guidelines drafted for the revised Psi Chi mission during the Psi Chi National Council Meeting held in January of 1997.

Some of the Psi Chi National Council members continued the work and evaluations begun in January at the May 1997 APS Convention in Washington, D.C. Financial and legal consultants who are familiar with nonprofit association management worked with Council members present to develop a reserve policy for Psi Chi and to initiate plans for a Psi Chi endowment. All Council members present at this APS meeting were anxious to develop new programs and to continue previous programs that will assist our Psi Chi members and faculty advisors in accomplishing the goals and purposes of Psi Chi. It was felt that such an endowment would eventually be of benefit to enlarge existing programs, establish new programs, or to provide an avenue through which Psi Chi could collaborate with other agencies to fund existing programs or to create new ones. If indeed the Honor Society creates such an endowment, it will be several years before it is operational following further discussion and study.

With regard to the second part of our purpose, which is "to advance the science of psychology," Psi Chi regularly offers opportunities for members to submit their research for the presentation of posters and papers at both regional and national meetings. This experience provides a needed step in the development of young researchers. During these presentations, friendly dialogue and exchange of ideas often take place. I had the good fortune to attend four of the regional meetings and to talk with many student presenters. It was during this time that I observed both students and faculty members encouraging and stimulating the presenters by exchanging ideas and e-mail addresses.

Another giant step taken by the National Council "to advance the science of psychology," was the establishment of the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. The journal provides Psi Chi student members with the opportunity to take the last step of the research process-publication. Psi Chi students gain invaluable help with the publication of their research during the submission and revision process, thanks to the volunteer faculty readers who mentor them by providing feedback on their submitted manuscripts. In addition to this journal submission process, the experience gained by Psi Chi members who are funded to conduct research for the Thelma Hunt Awards and the Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grants (mentioned earlier in this article) provides opportunities for these members to develop their research skills, which otherwise would not be possible. As Psi Chi National President, I will continue to encourage the Council to expand these programs and to continue to develop new opportunities for students to develop their research skills.

During the past few years, the National Council has not only worked diligently to increase the rewards for student excellence by encouraging scholarly activities and research submissions, but it has also increased its recognition of chapter activities that further enhance the professional development of Psi Chi members. To this end, two levels of chapter awards are presented for outstanding activities conducted by a Psi Chi chapter. First is the Cousins National Chapter Award, which recognizes the most outstanding Psi Chi chapter of the year. Second are the Regional Best Chapter Awards, which recognize the best chapters--one at a small school and one at a large school--in each of Psi Chi’s six regions. Psi Chi’s magazine, Eye on Psi Chi, offers yet another avenue for the chapter members’ development. Professional and informational articles are regularly published for the benefit of both faculty and students, while chapter officers are encouraged to submit articles of chapter activities to share with other members.

In recognition of the work of Psi Chi’s faculty advisors, the Psi Chi/ Florence L. Denmark Award is presented each year to the most outstanding Psi Chi faculty advisor. The Thelma Hunt Award also provides an opportunity for faculty advisors, as well as students, to conduct research that addresses questions of interest to the Society as a whole and to the National Council as its governing body. In addition, the Council is currently working on guidelines for Psi Chi Faculty Advisor Grants and for Regional Faculty Advisor Awards. It is vital for our Honor Society to have such programs to encourage Psi Chi faculty advisors, as well as to support chapter activities that offer local programs in keeping with the mission and purpose of the Society.

Another area in which the Council continues to work for the betterment of Psi Chi is by conducting ongoing reviews of its mission and long-range plans. During this year’s Midwinter Council Meeting, the current mission statement was reviewed and revised so that it now states, "The mission of Psi Chi is a well-educated, ethical, and socially responsible member committed to contributing to the science and profession of psychology and to society in general" As you read and think say that the Council has been both professionally and socially responsible by bringing new programs to members, in addition to continuing its scholarly efforts. With a Psi Chi National Service Project now in its third year, the Council has shown its commitment toward providing service as a professional obligation for its members. The Psi Chi Miniconvention is also in its third year, showing the Council’s commitment to providing continuing education for its members through the programming at the Miniconvention, as well as through the Psi Chi programs that are presented at the APA and APS Conventions and the six regional conventions.

Another Council consideration to be voted on during the August Council meeting is to create a substructure within each of the regions to improve the governance structure of Psi Chi. This substructure would expand the body of Psi Chi to include regional faculty advisors and Psi Chi student members to assist each of the six regional vice-presidents in conducting the many duties of that office, including the planning of the regional programs, review of papers and posters to be accepted for the Psi Chi regional sessions, review of award submissions, etc.

I hope that all of you attending this year’s Psi Chi program at the APA Convention in August enjoyed hearing all the outstanding panels that I planned with the help of the Psi Chi National Council. Two of the symposia were entitled, "Getting a Good Job With a Bachelor’s Degree" and "What to Do with a Master’s Degree: Practice? Research? Teach?" The excellent tips given by the presenters will be published in upcoming issues of Eye on Psi Chi. For those of you who are dreaming of a doctoral degree, the symposium on "21st Century Psychology: The Need for Teachers and Researchers" provided many insights from renowned teacher Charles Brewer and researcher Roger K. R. Thompson. As all of us baby boomers gray and get ready to retire in the next five to ten years, there may be more opportunities in teaching and research. The usual Psi Chi programs on getting into graduate school and on the graduate school information exchange were also well received by all students attending, providing an overall successful program at APA.

Alas, my crystal ball is fading, but it is clear to me that Psi Chi is ready to enter the 21st century. The Council has clear aims in mind and many proposed programs and research activities planned. I have been so fortunate to serve as President during an exciting time with wonderful Council members. They are ever mindful of the needs of our members and are moving towards the goals they have set for themselves in the new mission statement. If I did not see you in Chicago at the Miniconvention or during the Psi Chi activities during the APA program, don’t forget to write and let me know how you and your chapter are doing.

I hope each of you had a wonderful summer and are anticipating a great new beginning in the fall. If I might play faculty advisor for just a few minutes, I would like to remind you to put your studies first and block out everything else while reading your texts. Each time you read your various textbooks, you have a chance to listen to the experts in your field of study. Your study time is an uninterrupted tutoring session just for you. Also, take time to enjoy walking around in a beautiful garden with this "giant of an expert." Even though your lives are complicated, it is during your college experience that you have many chances to develop the other 90% of your brain. Happy learning to you and best wishes for a bright future.


Leadership

Copyright 1997 (Volume 1, Issue 4) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

 

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Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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