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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2009

Some Things Change, Some Things Don't
Alvin Y. Wang, PhD, Psi Chi President, Burnett Honors College (FL)

Consider the year 1929:
- The total annual expenditure of the Federal government was $3.13 billion.
- Cost of a first-class stamp was 2 cents.
- The average price of a car was $265.
- The 1929 stock market crash brought about a loss of $26 billion in securities and precipitated the Great Depression in the1930s.
- The Philadelphia A’s defeated the Chicago Cubs (4-1) in the World Series.
- The Electroencephalograph (EEG) was invented by Hans Berger, but the world would have to wait until 1938 for the invention of the ballpoint pen by Laszlo Biro.
- Anne Frank, Arnold Palmer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were born.
- The cartoon character Popeye and the soft drink 7-Up made their debut.
- Psi Chi was founded during the Ninth International Congress of Psychology at Yale University.

While the world was quite different back then, some things have remained unchanged. We still have Popeye and 7-Up, the stock market can still crash, and the Cubbies haven’t won the World Series since 1908 (sorry Cubs fans). Moreover, Psi Chi still exists as a growing, vibrant organization that continues "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.” In fact, Psi Chi will be celebrating its 80th anniversary during the annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association to be held in March 2010 in its hometown of Chattanooga, TN.

Psi Chi has flourished for the past 80 years due to many reasons. First, because of its reputation for supporting and recognizing academic excellence, it has always enjoyed the support of aspiring students, dedicated faculty, and strong leadership both within the organization and from other organizations such as APA, APS, and Psi Beta. Second, students (and faculty) recognize that to be inducted as a member of Psi Chi is a "badge” of honor, granted only to the highest-achieving students by an honor society. This is why Psi Chi continues to grow and now has over 560,000 members and almost 1,100 chapters. Third, membership bestows significant benefits to those students and faculty who actively seek opportunities for the pursuit of excellence and engagement within the discipline of psychology.

Just what are some of these benefits of membership? One important benefit is the opportunity to meet other members and learn more about the discipline by attending workshops, panel discussions, and research presentations sponsored by Psi Chi at regional and national conferences in psychology. Another benefi t is the opportunity for students to become active members and assume leadership roles in their local chapters. In so doing, students are able to distinguish themselves in ways that are appreciated by faculty, selections committees, and others within the discipline. Awards and grants are yet another important benefit of Psi Chi membership. Each year, Psi Chi allocates over $300,000 in support of student members, faculty advisors, and chapters. I encourage all of our members, both students and faculty alike, to visit Psi Chi’s website ( to learn more about our awards and grants programs as well as other important benefits of membership.

Recently, we have witnessed a world influx where many familiar institutions have faltered or failed (think banking industry and automobile manufacturers). Yet Psi Chi has continued its success and will become stronger and even more exciting in the future. This is bound to happen because of the creativity, energy, and dedication of its student members and faculty advisors. It is also the case that Psi Chi has become an international honor society, thereby broadening its appeal and providing benefits to the global community. It seems only fi tting that 80 years aft er its founding at the Ninth International Congress of Psychology, Psi Chi will now have an international presence.

I can think of one other benefit for membership– the comradery and sense of community that develops when one is active in Psi Chi. Speaking from a personal perspective, my most successful students and dedicated colleagues support and value the role played by this honor society. Whether on my campus or at a conference, I have had the privilege of meeting so many accomplished people because of Psi Chi. In this regard, an institution is only as good as its members and this is what makes Psi Chi a great institution. Some things just don’t change.

Dr. Alvin Wang is Dean of the Burnett Honors College and a professor of psychology at University of Central Florida (UCF). He received his PhD in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook (1980) and his BA from SUNY at Brockport. His research interests include the area of human memory, learning, and cognition. He has been at UCF since 1986 and served as an associate chair for the Department of Psychology (1992-95). Dr. Wang served as faculty advisor for the UCF Chapter of Psi Chi (1990-94), received the Florence Denmark National Faculty Advisor Award (1993), and served as the Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President (2000-04). He is currently a fellow of Division 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His interests include travel, fine cuisine, and reading.

Copyright 2009 (Volume 14, Issue 1) 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.

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