|Toot Your Chapter's Horn
|Martha Zlokovich, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Director
Is your chapter doing a good job of letting others know about the great things it does? Are people across campus aware of your chapter’s commitment to advancing the science and profession of psychology, campus life involvement, and hours volunteered in support of your community? Do all members of your psychology department know about your chapter’s support of student research and publication, as well as your chapter’s assistance with preparing students to become strong competitors for graduate school and job openings?
There are several reasons that promoting the activities of your chapter matters. Most university faculty, administrators, and boards are concerned about engaging students “in co-curriculum high impact practices and contributing to individual lives, universities, communities, and society” (ACHS, 2015). All of these groups explicitly seek to retain students until they graduate and to provide them with educational experiences that ultimately lead to great careers. Chances are your chapter is supporting such campus initiatives in many ways. So it is important to let them know how your chapter’s activities support soon-to-be-released honor society standards from the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2015).
It is important to “toot your chapter’s horn” so that administrators and decision makers on campus will appreciate the many ways in which your chapter supports their educational and institutional goals, especially the ones that are most important to them. Doing so lets them know that your chapter is a partner in advancing the university’s educational mission. Don’t let anyone mistake your chapter for a social club focused only on fun and games (although I hope fun and games are a part of your chapter experience)!
Such “shameless self-promotion” should not be viewed as unseemly or immodest, but as the final step in supporting your members. For example, having already established a serious academic reputation before your chapter requests funds for a chapter event from a dean, provost, student association, or other group on campus will make it easier for your chapter to receive funding. A chapter’s good academic reputation can also help faculty advisors when they apply for tenure, promotion, or merit awards if the time they spent on chapter activities is viewed as enhancing their teaching, research, and service responsibilities rather than detracting from them.
The first step in building such a reputation is to determine what initiatives are important on your campus. Your faculty advisor and department chair can be of great help in figuring that out, but so can your institution’s communication outlets. The most general and enduring initiatives will be in your institution’s mission and vision statements. More current concerns are likely to appear in recent speeches by the campus president, newspaper, faculty senate proceedings and resolutions, press releases to local news outlets, and promotional materials. Look for phrases or messages that are being repeated by many people across many forms of communication.
The second step is to be sure your officers are aware of those initiatives, and the third is to be sure they can articulate how your chapter supports them. The last step is getting the word out—tooting your chapter’s horn! In addition to the four required officer positions, many chapters also elect members to positions such as publicity chair, web master, social media voice, or campus liaison. Some or all of these officers may address your chapter’s publicity within and outside of your psychology department. Some or all of them might have used Psi Chi’s Officer Guidelines to help them decide how to go about it (to find the Officer Guidelines online, log in at psichi.org, click on Officer, and then select Officer Guidelines under Chapter Materials). Make sure your officers coordinate with one another on your chapter’s messages and that no one misses an opportunity to let others know what has been accomplished.
It is critical that your officers work together with your faculty advisor to communicate across campus that Psi Chi supports the university’s educational mission by seeking to “encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology” (Psi Chi, 2015). Align your chapter’s activities and communication about those activities with your university’s strategic plan, mission, and/or goals. That way your members, officers, and faculty advisor will be more likely to receive the credit they deserve for the time and effort they put into making your Psi Chi chapter and its members successful.
Association of College Honor Societies. (2015). Services: PR Toolkit. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://www.achsnatl.org/documents/pr-tool-kit.docx
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2015). Standards. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from http://www.cas.edu/standards
Psi Chi. (2015). Purpose and Mission. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from http://www.psichi.org/?page=purpose
A high school
teacher in Pensacola, Florida, inspired Dr. Martha S. Potter Zlokovich
to pursue psychology as a career. She completed her BA in psychology at UCLA,
and MS and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Florida.
Zlokovich joined Psi Chi in 2008 as its second Executive Director, leaving
Southeast Missouri State University after teaching there for 17 years. This
move, however, was not her first involvement with Psi Chi. She served as
chapter advisor since 1993, as Midwestern Region Vice-President (1998-2000),
and as National President of Psi Chi (2003-04). In 1996, Southeast’s chapter
won the Ruth Hubbard Cousin’s National Chapter of the Year Award, and several
chapter members have won Psi Chi Regional Research Awards at MPA and/or had
their research published in Psi Chi's Journal.
Southeast, Dr. Zlokovich taught Child Development, Adolescent Development,
Lifespan Development, Advanced Child Psychology, and Introductory Psychology
for Majors. She also served as chair of the department. Her research interests
have focused on student study habits, study beliefs, and persistence to
graduation as well as adolescent and young
adult contraception and sexuality.
Zlokovich and her husband Neil have two sons and a daughter-in-law. Aaron
(Truman State University, 2010) and Stephanie live in Lexington, KY and Matthew
is a senior civil engineering major at the University of Alabama.
Copyright 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the
International Honor Society in Psychology
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.
Eye on Psi Chi is published quarterly: