Most Psi Chi members return to campus for the start of a new academic year in August or September (even though New Zealand’s winter season is during summer in the US, and many members have taken summer courses with little to no break). In any case, end of summer or beginning of fall is a good time of year to lay the groundwork for a successful academic year for your chapter.
Organize chapter officers early. The Executive Committee (all officers and the faculty advisor) of each chapter should meet before the rush of fall classes begins so they can map out a tentative plan for the year. Meeting early allows officers to communicate about expectations and job duties and get to know one another better. If outgoing officers have the chance to meet with incoming officers at least once or twice before the turnover to new officers, the transition will be much smoother for the officers and the chapter. Being organized and having a plan will allow officers to step into the first chapter meeting and present the members with a meeting agenda and a tentative plan for the upcoming year’s chapter activities. Member buy-in and participation will increase the likelihood of the chapter holding successful activities and events.
Review your chapter’s Bylaws. Every chapter should have its own Bylaws, but they must be read and followed by the officers and chapter members in order to be relevant. Do you know what your Bylaws say about filling a vacant officer position? About what positions there are other than the four required by the Psi Chi Constitution (president, vicepresident, treasurer, secretary)? About removing an officer who does not attend meetings or fulfill his or her duties? About academic requirements for membership? (Chapters may impose more stringent academic requirements than those in the Psi Chi Constitution, but not less stringent; however, nonacademic requirements such as participation may not be imposed.) In fact, chapter Bylaws may include anything that doesn’t conflict with the Psi Chi Constitution. See my summer 2009 column on why Bylaws are important Here.
Recalculate GPA cutoffs—doing so is the first step to a successful membership drive. Each year chapter faculty advisors should recalculate the top 35 percent cumulative GPA cutoffs for the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. Class refers to all students on campus, so that means the cumulative GPAs of every sophomore, every junior, and every senior on campus should be included in the calculations— not just psychology majors or students in the college that houses the psychology department. Typically faculty advisors obtain the cutoffs from the university’s registrar, honors dean or college, or institutional research department. Whether your chapter holds one or more induction ceremonies per year, students may become members through the chapter at any time during the year (however, chapters may set their own deadlines for prospective members to turn in their fees and forms). Remember that students are not eligible for Psi Chi awards or grants until their membership has been recorded in the Psi Chi Central Office so it benefits your chapter’s newest members if your faculty advisor submits their information to the Central Office each semester.
Include graduate students during your membership drive. Graduate students are also eligible for Psi Chi and may participate in chapter activities. Graduate students who joined Psi Chi as undergraduates may participate in the chapter as soon as they start their graduate classes. Remember, Psi Chi membership is a lifetime membership! If they wish,,they may transfer their membership to their graduate school’s Psi Chi chapter, but they are not required to do so. Graduate students who are not already members of Psi Chi may join after completing one full semester of graduate coursework with at least a B average in all graduate courses.
Explore what’s new on Psi Chi’s website. Members will notice big changes in Psi Chi’s website by August or September. These changes have been designed to make it easier for members to find the information they need. Each region will have updated pages specifically for the region’s Vice-President on Psi Chi’s Board of Directors to communicate with all members in the region. Each region’s VP plans the Psi Chi program at their regional meeting; these pages will tell you when the fall submission deadlines are, how to apply for regional conference travel grants, what sessions will be at the meetings, and what awards are available in the region. Furthermore, anyone planning to submit to or attend the conference in another region will be able to find out the details about it on that region’s page.
Website revisions will eliminate students filling out paper forms for membership and advisors inputting that information online. The changes will allow faculty advisors to send a link to potential new members for them to enter their own names and personal information online. A list will then be generated for the advisor to verify which students meet the current criteria for membership by simply clicking next to each person who is eligible.
The Awards and Grants Webpage will be streamlined and feature some new awards such as travel grants to any conference, Faculty Advisor Leadership Training Grants, and Mamie Phipps Clark Research Grants. Applications will all be online and forms will be easier to fill out and return to Psi Chi.
Check out the revised Psi Chi research journal. All members may now submit research articles to the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, formerly the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. Be sure to check out current and past issues on the website. Members may view entire articles free by logging into the website first.
Read Current and Past Eye on Psi Chi articles online. Although the Eye no longer arrives on campus as a paper magazine, current and past issues are available to the public online. Search for topics related to diversity, leadership, international issues, getting into graduate school, chapter vitality, officer functioning, fund-raising, areas of psychology, and many more.
Follow Psi Chi on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Keep up to date with the latest tips, ideas, deadlines, and Psi Chi news on social media. You can find Psi Chi on Twitter at PsiChiHonor, on Facebook at PsiChiCentralOffice, and on Linkedin by searching for Psi Chi–The International Honor Society in Psychology.