As I recently handed the gavel off to incoming leadership (knowing that Psi Chi is in good hands), I could not help but reflect on the past year within the organization. Specifically, I wanted to know whether or not the Board of Directors generally delivered on its targeted initiatives from the beginning of the year, and also whether we had been able to address many of my previously-declared intentions as President. Had the Board accomplished what it had set out to do?
My opening column for the Eye at the beginning of the year (Hall, 2010) indicated several ongoing initiatives for the organization. These initiatives included international growth and contact with international organizations, as well as the expansion of opportunities for students across educational levels (which would encourage more graduate students to become involved in Psi Chi, as well as strengthen continuity with similar groups at community colleges and junior colleges). The column also stressed the promotion of diversity (i.e., increasing diversity of membership, sharing information about discipline-relevant issues related to diversity, and supporting members’ research related to diversity). Additionally, the board was actively seeking ways to better support and foster leadership development. Many of these initiatives had been previously echoed within my platform as a Psi Chi Presidential candidate. Th at platform identified several areas for targeted growth, including promoting awareness of opportunities for members and establishing additional opportunities (with a focus on emerging fields), as well as increasing service to traditionally underrepresented and underinvolved groups (e.g., diverse populations and graduate students, respectively).
The Board of Directors made good progress toward meeting most of its goals last year. Psi Chi continues to grow and is gradually becoming the international organization that is indicated by its subtitle. Th e past year saw the installation of 17 new chapters, including approval of the first chapters within New Zealand and Egypt. Furthermore, ongoing submissions and charter applications include requests from Russia, India, Vietnam, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, and the West Indies. Psi Chi continues to be indebted to Division 52 of APA (International Psychology) the many gracious members of which have helped introduce Psi Chi to the international community in psychology and acted as liaisons between Psi Chi and various countries where division members are active. Psi Chi also made the critical decision to move to electronic communication and publications to permit more immediate sharing of information with individual members around the world. (In the absence of such a decision, it would be unlikely that some countries would even be able to reliably and cost-effectively receive information from the organization). As a result, now members should be receiving e-mails with direct links to new issues of the Eye, as well as news digests from the Central Office.
Headway also was made toward Psi Chi better supporting its mission to "recognize and foster the contributions that diversity makes to the science and practice of psychology (2011, Psi Chi).” This past year Psi Chi appointed a Diversity Director who, in conjunction with a Diversity Advisory Board, identifies ways that the organization can better meet this mission and report these initiatives directly to the Board of Directors. Issues related to diversity will be making regular appearances within Psi Chi publications. To expedite this transition and contributions of articles by members, four annual Diversity Article Awards will be available beginning 2012-13. Research on diversity issues will further be supported by the establishment of the Mamie Phipps Clark Research Grants program that also will start next year.
A concentrated effort was made by the Board to increase other opportunities to members as well, including to graduate students, who have traditionally had available to them fewer Psi Chi awards than have undergraduates. A long-term assessment of existing award programs was initially made so that funds could be allocated to students where they are most needed and to permit the development of several promising award programs. One such program is a jointly-offered grant program with the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, the APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship Grant program, which was implemented to provide research funding for students early in their graduate training. Th is program was very successful in its first cycle with over a hundred applicants (despite being made available only a few weeks before submissions were due).
Several additional award programs also were approved at our most recent board meeting and should come online soon. These include Graduate Assistantship Grants, which will provide a full year of graduate assistantship support at the home institution with possible renewal for a second year. Furthermore, more funds were devoted to Regional Travel Grants so that members could more readily attend regional conferences, and a new travel grant program without restriction to regional meetings also was approved.
Additionally, Psi Chi renewed its commitment to fostering leadership within the organization and the discipline in several ways. First, the organization directly funded leadership programming at regional meetings last year and will continue to do so. Second, the society began to explore how it might provide more substantial leadership programming in the future, including ongoing discussions with Psi Beta (the National Honor Society in Psychology for Community and Junior Colleges) about how we could promote better leadership continuity between our organizations and perhaps jointly off er leadership-based sessions. Finally, new award programs related to leadership also were approved, including the Wilson Officer Team Award that will begin this year, which recognizes outstanding contributions from a group of officers at an individual Psi Chi chapter. Also in development are Leadership Training Grants for Faculty Advisors. These awards should aid advisors as they encourage young leaders within the chapters they advise and also help advisors to generate creative ways to maximize their own effectiveness.
It should be clear from this listing of all the new programs and ongoing developments that it was a very busy and exciting year for Psi Chi. It was a pleasure for me to be part of this process, and I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to serve. I look forward to my current year as Past-President of Psi Chi and any opportunities where I can continue to be of service to the organization in the years to come.
Hall, M. (2010, Fall). A brief overview of ongoing Psi Chi initiatives. Eye on Psi Chi, 15(1), 4.
Psi Chi (2011). Purpose & mission statements. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/About/purpose.aspx