Southwestern Regional Winter Letter (2006)
February 10, 2006
Dear Psi Chi Chapter Officers, Members, and Faculty Advisors,
Welcome to Spring Semester 2006!
The multiple dozens of submitted posters and papers for presentation at the spring 2006 meeting of the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) in Austin, Texas (April 13-15, 2006) are under review by the members of my regional committee for Psi Chi Awards in April. At the suggestion of several members and advisors, I have formalized the Awards Program which (until last year) had always been conducted informally during Psi Chi's paper and poster sessions. This spring we will have a formal Awards Ceremony during late afternoon on Friday at SWPA to announce and recognize the Psi Chi students whose projects were deemed most worthy among those submitted. A couple of students missed last year's ceremony by not arriving at SWPA until Saturday morning for their poster. Hopefully all of you who have submitted a paper or poster can join us on Friday.
During that Awards Ceremony, we will also be hearing brief presentations by Psi Chi Executive Director Virginia Mathie who will be describing some of the new fellowships recently approved by our Psi Chi National Council such as internship grants with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and another at the headquarters of the American Psychological Association (APA). From our own region, Psi Chi President-Elect John Davis, Texas State University-San Marcos, will also be in attendance to offer his comments and observations. Hopefully, you can plan your SWPA trip so as to join us.
We are fortunate that SWPA Program Chair Loretta McGregor (a former Psi Chi advisor!) has arranged two rooms, Creekside I and Creekside II, to be reserved exclusively for Psi Chi activities and presentations at the Marriott Austin at the Capitol. Join fellow members there any time you don't have something else scheduled.
Psi Chi will be sponsoring an increased number of nationally prominent speakers this year. We were fortunate that professor Charles Spielberger from the University of South Florida has accepted our invitation to be Psi Chi's Keynote Speaker on Thursday afternoon, as he presents some of his research and observations in a talk on "Measuring Emotions and Personality." Professor Spielberger was the 100th President of the American Psychological Association, and the 20th National President of our own Psi Chi. His test of anxiety is the internationally accepted standard for the measurement of stress. Very personable and approachable, Professor Spielberger should be an excellent guest scientist for you to meet and interact with.
In addition, we are also most fortunate that the SWPA Keynote Speaker is professor Elliot Aronson, an internationally recognized social psychologist and author of The Social Animal, now in its 9th edition. He is the only person in APA history to receive all three of APA's major academic awards for distinguished teaching, research, and writing. He has a unique publication in which he has collaborated with his granddaughter (Ruth Aronson) in publishing a children's book, The Adventures of Ruthie and a Little Boy Named Grandpa. Professor Aronson has most generously offered to have an informal conversation hour explicitly for student members of Psi Chi, hopefully later on Friday afternoon following his major address to the convention as its featured speaker. It is his hope that members of Psi Chi will feel free to "...ask me anything of a personal, professional or research topic nature....and it can be a real give and take....not the stilted kinds of questions that people usually ask after a talk." He asked that I encourage each student to attend his address at SWPA. This is a real opportunity to get "up close and personal" with one the preeminent psychologists in the country. Again, I hope you can join us for this rare opportunity.
On the first morning (Thursday), Psi Chi will sponsor an interactive event featuring the presidents of various Psi Chi chapters throughout our Southwestern Region. Schools small and large, public and private, will have officers there. The intent is captured in the session title: "Sharing the Glory; Sharing the Pain." It is a workshop for officers, potential officers, and Psi Chi members. It will feature a discussion of examples and strategies to achieve chapter successes and to avoid (or at least address) shortfalls and problems. I hope you will be able to attend. Past versions of this have typically been very active, very helpful sessions.
At board meetings over the past two years, I have supported efforts to further increase the awards, grants, fellowships, and scholarships available through Psi Chi. (Now, the ball is in your court, because at the moment Psi Chi does not give out all of the money it has available for students each year!)
I was able to get SWPA to extend its paper submission deadline by an extra two weeks last fall. Perhaps with electronic-only submissions we may be able to push that deadline even further so as to increase the number of Psi Chi submissions–I know the fall semester is already too rushed!
I sponsored a recommendation to increase the stipend Psi Chi pays to its invited speakers. We see the direct benefits of that motion approved by Psi Chi's National Council in the outstanding caliber of speakers who will be at SWPA specifically for members of Psi Chi this April.
Come join us at SWPA! I look forward to meeting many of you in Austin. One suggestion: The room rate is not cheap ($135/room), but the billing at the convention hotel is a flat rate per room. You can comfortably fit as many as 4 people in the hotel's rooms, thus giving each student a 75% reduction in housing expenses–and perhaps facilitating an even richer, more extended amount of person interaction than conventions already seem to encourage! I do hope you'll schedule yourself to be with us at SWPA. The annual meeting is a great learning experience to increase budding psychologists' intellectual and social skills by interacting with fellow students and professionals.
Professor Lauren Scharff from Stephen F. Austin State University, an effective member of my regional steering committee helping in Psi Chi matters, is directing a brand-new Psi-Chi sponsored activity at the SWPA Social Hour on Friday evening. It is intended to bring Psi Chi members into the Social Hour, hopefully in a manner that will increase interactions between members of Psi Chi and various faculty who are in attendance. Psi Chi will be sponsoring a soft drinks bar for Psi Chi members at the social hour. Pick up your ticket (for the soft drink) at the Psi Chi Hospitality Suite as that ticket will save you $2.75 at the social hour! The Hospitality Suite will be open throughout Thursday and Friday, except when Psi Chi is sponsoring a major event such as our student paper and poster sessions and our speakers. Stop by any time to meet fellow members and advisors of Psi Chi. It's a good experience–come join us!
I have not yet received the final program, but I will forward a bulleted list of the Psi Chi events, times, and places as soon as the SWPA schedule is released.
With best regards,
Richard A. Kasschau, Professor
University of Houston
Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President