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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2003
Remembering Kay:
The Psi Chi National Council

Current and Past Members of the Psi Chi National Council

Elizabeth Yost Hammer, PhD
Loyola University New Orleans
Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President, 1996-2000
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 2001-2002
Psi Chi National President, 2002-2003
Psi Chi National Past-President, 2003-2004

[The following eulogy was delivered by Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer, then Psi Chi National President, at the Memorial Service for Kay held on June 9, 2003, at the First-Centenary United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee. As part of her eulogy, Dr. Hammer shared comments from other Psi Chi National Council and National Office staff members, which have been included elsewhere in this commemorative issue, and thus are omitted below.]

It is a true honor to represent Psi Chi in expressing our sadness over the loss of our friend and leader, Kay Wilson, as well as our gratitude for her role in our organization and our lives. I will talk a little about Kay's history with Psi Chi and then relay some of the thoughts, memories, and sentiments from members of the National Council who knew Kay well [see note above].

In 1991, following the retirement of Ruth Cousins, Kay was appointed Executive Officer for Psi Chi. As the Executive Officer, Kay had an incredibly important role in Psi Chi. Let me point out that the National Council itself is made up of psychology faculty who are usually strangers to each other, to the students who elect them, and to the National Office. Further, the composition of the Council is always changing as people rotate off and new faculty are elected. Kay was the stability of the Council, the glue that held us together from year to year, from president to president.

Building on the strong foundation of her predecessor, she led Psi Chi to new heights of success as one of the largest and most prestigious honor societies. To give you a few examples, under Kay's leadership, Psi Chi experienced unprecedented growth. The total number of members doubled, and the total number of chapters is now above 1,000 (more than any other college honor society). On Kay's watch, Psi Chi revised its constitution, developed a new mission statement, engaged in long-range planning, instituted national service projects, and installed its first international chapter. Kay build the National Office staff to five full-time positions, assisted in the first-ever purchase of a building to house the Psi Chi headquarters, and brought us into the Internet age with the development of the Psi Chi website. Under her supervision, we have published Eye on Psi Chi, a full-color magazine, the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research, the premiere undergraduate journal in psychology, and An Oral History of Psi Chi. Kay also focused the Council on increasing opportunities for members, and during her tenure, the programming at regional and national conferences flourished both in terms of the amount and quality, and our awards and grants programs have been greatly expanded. Kay represented Psi Chi in the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS), which she served as member-at-large and on several committees. She had recently assumed the position of President of this organization in February 2003.

This list of Kay's accomplishments and the accomplishments of Psi Chi under her guidance is by no means exhaustive. As our glue, Kay was involved in every level of the functioning of Psi Chi, and her influences are too numerous to name. Kay meant business when she was doing business, but that's only part of the story. Along with being our leader, Kay was also our friend—a valued colleague who was well respected and held in the highest esteem. Part of the fun of being on the Council was getting to work with Kay. She had a knack for making every Council member, staff member, faculty advisor, and chapter officer feel special [comments from others omitted here].

Kay was a caring and giving person, and her friendship often extended beyond her role as Executive Officer. She was also a hard-working person who dedicated herself both to Psi Chi as well as to the field of psychology. She leaves a lasting legacy and is an important part of Psi Chi history. I am proud to have known her.

On a personal note, Kay, as a professional southern woman, was a true role model for me. I credit her and Psi Chi for so much of my professional development. Her influence on students of psychology is more far-reaching than we can imagine because by touching me, she has also touched my students and my students to come. What a wonderful legacy from a wonderful friend. Kay, Psi Chi will miss your leadership, your guidance, your friendship, and your love. We will miss our glue.

From Current Council Members:

John M. Davis, PhD
Texas State University-San Marcos
Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President, 2000-2004

Kay Wilson touched the lives of many people through her work with Psi Chi. Through her family and friends and through Psi Chi she will continue to influence many. She was a remarkable person and a gifted leader. Knowing her has enriched my life. I particularly remember working with Kay as part of the Psi Chi program at the SWPA meetings. She connected so easily with individual students at SWPA in all the activities and events. I also have fond memories of times that my wife Carol and I spent with Kay and her husband Joe at a Psi Chi Council meeting in the Canadian Rockies. I will miss Kay, but I know that I will continue to draw guidance and inspiration from her vision for Psi Chi and from her example as a person and a professional.

Michael D. Hall, PhD
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Psi Chi Western Regional Vice-President, 2003-2005

I had the pleasure of meeting Kay Wilson only about two or three times, all at regional meetings of the WPA. Although brief, the last of these meetings impacted me very directly. She encouraged me as a regional steering committee member to consider candidacy for the regional vice-president position. I was a little surprised that Kay remembered me. I was more surprised that she was taking time to talk to me and so many others about continued involvement in Psi Chi. I came away from the meeting impressed by how Kay seemed to be constantly thinking of the organization, as well as by how much personal contact she had with all of the chapter officers and advisors, both indicators to me that she passionately cared about their job. Ultimately, I heeded her suggestion. Since joining the National Council, I have come to discover that Kay Wilson made a habit of encouraging all those around her to become more involved. It is very rare to see people exercise the kind of vision and personal touch that Kay consistently demonstrated in seeing to the development of the organization. The wheels set in motion under Kay's vision are very evident in the successes now being enjoyed by Psi Chi. Her presence will be sorely missed.

Christopher Koch, PhD
George Fox University
Psi Chi Western Regional Vice-President, 1999-2003
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 2003-2004

Psi Chi saw tremendous growth in terms of number of chapters, membership, and financial stability under Kay Wilson's leadership. Kay was deeply concerned about the reputation of Psi Chi and worked diligently to make that reputation exemplary. To many Psi Chi members, Kay will be remembered because of her accomplishments with the organization. However, those accomplishments are not the first things I think of when I think of Kay.

One of the things I will remember most about Kay is her memory of people. I became involved at the national level of Psi Chi largely because Kay called me at my office one day. Al-though we never met in person up until that point, she remembered talking to me several times when I was a graduate student at the University of Georgia. I was very impressed that she knew who I was, especially since I was no longer at UGA but at George Fox University just outside of Portland, Oregon. Mine was not an isolated case. Kay seemed to remember people she met one time four or five years ago and could recall all the positive characteristics of those people.

Her positive approach to people is the other thing I will remember most about Kay. She would talk to every student who made a Psi Chi presentation whenever she came to WPA—and she was genuinely interested in each member's research and goals. On those occasions when we did not talk about Psi Chi business, Kay usually talked about relationships. She was very concerned with how people interacted, worked together, etc., and disliked controversy between people. The more I learned about Kay, the more I got to see how she tried to make a difference in the lives of those around her and successfully built the positive relationships she was so interested in. Kay Wilson was a great director of Psi Chi but, more importantly, a great-hearted person who will be missed by those whose lives she touched.

Vincent Prohaska, PhD
Lehman College, City University of New York
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 2003-2005

I never worked with Kay very closely, I just knew her from interactions at conferences and with the National Office. But to me, as officers changed and new staff were added, there was always that one constant in Psi Chi—Kay. She and Psi Chi were inseparable. It is hard for me to think of Psi Chi and not think of Kay.

Carla J. Reyes, PhD
University of Utah
Psi Chi Rocky Mountain Regional Vice-President, 2001-2005

I was a newly appointed advisor and was diving right into the position with my students presenting at conferences and variety of other activities. During the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was attending the advisors luncheon and saw this charming woman with the sweetest southern accent.

I could tell by her actions she was important and had a visible role at the conference, but at the time did not know the details. During the luncheon my impression of her only grew as she insisted that I sit next to Albert Bandura and allowed all my Psi Chi students to request pictures. Our chapter developed the pictures and then realized that Kay was the Executive Officer of Psi Chi. We felt even more pleased with ourselves that we had such an honor bestowed upon us. It wasn't until I became the Rocky Mountain Vice-President that I found out Kay did not have a degree in psychology. By then it didn't matter. For me she had already established herself as a mentor and a role model. Over the past five years I have worked more closely with the Psi Chi National Office, with Kay always being available, always taking the lead. I can honestly say that her influence in the small subtle ways has kept me in academia. I sometimes think, how ironic, because she wasn't in my field, but now I understand that it was just Kay. It was her integrity, her professionalism, her sense of self, and her grace as a person that I was so drawn to. I feel truly honored to have known Kay and worked with her. I have lost a role model, a mentor, and a friend. I will miss her so.

Scott W. VanderStoep, PhD
Hope College
Psi Chi Midwestern Regional Vice-President, 2002-2004

I joined Psi Chi's National Council in August 2002, so I only got to meet Kay two times—at APA in the summer of 2002 in Chicago and at our midwinter meeting in Florida in January 2003. I remember that she was so energized about the future of Psi Chi that she will be hard to replace. And she was so full of life when I last saw her that I find her death hard to believe. I remember the last face-to-face conversation I had with her. It came after a long work session at our Florida meeting. Kay and the members of Council were walking out of the meeting room. That afternoon we had been discussing a topic important to Psi Chi in our usual spirited, healthy, and respectful manner. As we went our separate ways, she came up to me and said, with that delightful Tennessee accent, "I like you, Scott. You and I think a lot alike." It was a good day: To be told that I think like Kay Wilson—what a great compliment coming from a great lady. I will miss Kay.

Alvin Y. Wang, PhD
University of Central Florida
Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President, 2000-2004

The first time I met Kay was at SEPA four years ago in New Orleans. It was a chance encounter on the sidewalk outside of the convention hotel. I recall that it was early afternoon and unseasonably warm. Kay was trying to leave the hotel, but was encumbered by a large suitcase and some carry-on bags. I introduced myself and offered to help. As it turns out, the suitcase and bags were empty, and Kay was making her way to a grocery store a few blocks away to replenish our hospitality suite's stock of refreshments. Needless to say, the hospitality suite was a success, and no student was turned away for lack of snacks. For me this first encounter with Kay is significant because it underscored her commitment to Psi Chi and its student members. In all of my subsequent meetings with Kay, I have always found her to be steadfast in this commitment.

It's often said that an organization is only as good as its people. Certainly, this has been the case with Psi Chi because under Kay's leadership Psi Chi has become a great organization.

From Past Presidents:

Stephen F. Davis, PhD
Emporia State University (emeritus)
Psi Chi Midwestern Regional Vice-President, 1990-1993
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1993-1994
Psi Chi National President, 1994-1995
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1995-1996
An Oral History of Psi Chi

I was on the National Council that hired Kay. She impressed all of us on the Council as a strong person who had a vision for Psi Chi. Clearly, we were correct in our assessment. Psi Chi has flourished under her direction.

One of the most joyous occasions I shared with Kay was when she accompanied me to Nashville for the installation of the Psi Chi Chapter at Belmont University. This was the first chapter installation that she had ever attended, and she beamed with pride during the ceremony. I am confident that the success of this chapter and its student and faculty leaders brought her great satisfaction over the years.

Florence L. Denmark, PhD
Pace University (emerita)
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1974-1978
Psi Chi National President, 1978-1980
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1980-1981
Psi Chi Distinguished Member

Kay Wilson was a very impressive person who cared a great deal about Psi Chi. Her devotion helped to build Psi Chi into a very strong and highly respected organization. Kay Wilson was a hard-working person who dedicated herself both to Psi Chi as well as to the field of psychology. She leaves a lasting legacy and is an important part of Psi Chi history. I am proud to have known her.

Susan E. Dutch, PhD
Westfield State College
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1987-1990
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1990-1991
Psi Chi National President, 1991-1992
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1992-1993

Psi Chi owes a debt of gratitude to Kay Wilson. She joined us at a time of transition and, during her tenure, Psi Chi realized the most phenomenal growth in its history. Kay and I shared a bit of that history.

We first met when Lisa Gray-Shellberg, Michael Wertheimer, and I interviewed her as a possible successor to Ruth Hubbard Cousins. Ruth's reputation is legendary, and Kay knew that she had a hard act to follow.

Kay's first year at Psi Chi coincided with my year as National President. Because we were both new to our respective positions, it was a classic case of the blind leading the blind. Both of us were extremely anxious to ensure that Psi Chi remained the vibrant organization it had become under Ruth's guidance. Neither of us knew exactly how to ensure that success.

Kay worked extremely hard that year. I know, because we spent many weekday evenings and most Saturday mornings discussing the week's events. Together we would explore the best way to proceed. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn't. But we always agreed that Psi Chi's welfare came first and foremost.

Kay embraced Psi Chi not merely as a job but as her vocation. Through her efforts, her care, and her guidance, Psi Chi has grown and prospered. Though Kay's first year was a tough one, she rose to the challenge and surpassed all expectations. Now she has become the hard act to follow.

Peter J. Giordano, PhD
Belmont University
Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President, 1994-1996
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 2000-2001
Psi Chi National President, 2001-2002
Psi Chi National Past-President, 2002-2003

The first time I met Kay was when Belmont's chapter was installed back in October 1991. Steve Davis did our installation talk, and Kay accompanied him here. I believe it was the first installation ceremony she attended—we may have even been the first chapter installed during her tenure, but I'm not certain of that. As you would expect, she was so gracious and kind while she was on campus. I was a young faculty member and a bit overwhelmed by the process of organizing an installation ceremony. I will always remember her incredible kindness in making all of us feel like we were doing such a great job.
I will always remember her laugh. I can hear it now as I write this. Her big, hearty, warm laugh always brightened the room. Whether on the phone, in Council meetings, at dinner, in a car, or sitting in the lobby of a hotel, her laugh was contagious. I will always think of her laugh when I think of her.

Joseph J. Horvat, Jr., PhD
Weber State University
Psi Chi Rocky Mountain Regional Vice-President, 1987-1991
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1992-1993
Psi Chi National President, 1993-1994
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1994-1995

One of my favorite memories of Kay was when I was National President. I was to give my presidential address after running in the APA 5K race. I injured my knee in that race, and when I got back to my room I notified Kay that I would not be able to deliver the address since I could not stand. Kay asked me to give it in the Psi Chi suite where I could sit down and ice my leg while doing my presentation. She made certain folks were notified of the change. This was very indicative of Kay. She was always adaptable, spontaneous, and capable in all of her duties.

Norine Jalbert, PhD
Western Connecticut State University
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1990-1993
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1994-1995
Psi Chi National President, 1995-1996
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1996-1997

It is with much sadness that I find myself writing this brief remembrance of Kay Wilson, a prized colleague and friend. Her death this past summer was a loss to all who knew and loved her, and a most significant loss to Psi Chi. In a way, I feel as though Kay and I grew up together—not in the literal, chronological sense—but through our mutual association with Psi Chi. I joined the Psi Chi National Council as the Eastern Regional Vice-President in the same year that Kay was "apprenticing" under Ruth Cousins. Kay subsequently became the Psi Chi Executive Officer, and I eventually became the Psi Chi National President. We had many opportunities to work together over the years, and I have fond memories of our many, many agreements and disagreements. Through mutual respect and tolerance of each other's ideas about the best directions for Psi Chi, though, I like to think that she and I made a positive difference. Kay, because of her longer and more sustained service to Psi Chi over the years, has definitely left the association economically stronger, programmatically better, and professionally more visible. She has left a gap in Psi Chi that will be difficult to fill.

Even after leaving the National Council, I managed to keep in touch with Kay about issues related to Psi Chi and other assorted things. When I went through my own bout with cancer, she was one of the first colleagues to call and wish me well. I only wish that my own good wishes for her recovery had worked so well. It is still difficult to accept that she is really gone, and I can only say that I miss her now and shall miss her for a long time to come.

Slater E. Newman, PhD
North Carolina State University (emeritus)
Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President, 1990-1994
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1996-1997
Psi Chi National President, 1997-1998
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1998-1999

I have lost a wonderful friend! But I have many happy memories of times together, of joy and laughter, talking not only about Psi Chi, but also of our families who meant so much to each of us. I will continue to attend the meetings, but no longer with the lightness of heart nor the anticipation of another happy visit with my wonderful friend, Kay.

Jesse E. Purdy, PhD: "Kay Wilson: Right Leader at the Right Time"
Southwestern University
Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President, 1994-1998
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1999-2000
Psi Chi National President, 2000-2001
Psi Chi National Past-President, 2001-2002

It is a pleasure and an honor to contribute to this commemorative issue of Eye on Psi Chi. It is also sad because I had hoped to write such a piece for Kay to be read at her retirement. Too often we miss the opportunities we have to tell others what they have meant to us and to express our appreciation for jobs well done.

I first met Kay Wilson when I was elected Southwestern Regional Vice President in 1994. I served as vice-president from 1994-1998 and then as National President-Elect, President, and Past-President from 1999-2002. During these years, I learned that though my first impressions of her were correct, I did not fully appreciate her value to me as a friend, and I had underestimated her depth of commitment to Psi Chi and her ability to lead a diverse group of independent individuals. In that eight-year period, I came to appreciate that Kay Wilson was without doubt the right leader at the right time for Psi Chi.

My first impressions of Kay were very positive. Never before, in my professional life, had I met someone who paid closer attention to detail or who was better organized. Kay handled the logistics of the annual business meetings of Psi Chi with grace and efficiency. I never had to worry about obtaining a room, a plane ticket, getting to the hotel, the meeting rooms, or the necessary materials for the meeting. If we had problems with our rooms or logistics of any kind, Kay would apologize profusely and immediately rectify the problem. If we had forgotten something or needed something to make our work easier, Kay would accommodate. Everything was ready well in advance of the meeting and allowed me the maximum amount of time to prepare for the business meeting and the Psi Chi program.

Kay was a good friend. She had a remarkable ability to make everyone she met feel like they were the most important persons on the planet. Often, when introducing us to others she would emphasize that we were vice-presidents, or presidents of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society of Psychology, which was the largest society of its ilk in the nation. Whether deserved or not, Kay made us feel important and good about ourselves. Kay would also listen, with undivided attention, to whatever we were talking about. From the highly personal to the most professional, she would listen and offer advice, counsel, and compassion. She was genuinely concerned about those she met and knew.

During the ensuing years I came to realize that I had underestimated Kay's commitment to Psi Chi. She constantly reminded the National Council that our number one concern was what effect a proposed program or award would have on our constituents, the members of Psi Chi. She worried about whether a program would provide the greatest good, and she pushed for programs that would foster the ideals of Psi Chi and produce an organization that was true to its mission and purpose. In addition, Kay was Psi Chi's best ambassador. Whether she was in Washington meeting with other professionals from the American Psychological Association, representing us at the ACHS meetings, or attending our national and regional meetings, Kay spent a great deal of time being seen and being heard. She worked tirelessly to promote Psi Chi.

I also underestimated Kay's ability to work with a diverse and independent group of people. Each of us on the National Council had our own ideas and our own ways of doing things. Regardless of the size of our egos, our abilities, and our contributions, Kay made us feel like we were all contributing greatly to the organization. More importantly, at the same time that Kay listened patiently to our comments, she guided us through subtle suggestions and persistence. Under her leadership, Psi Chi increased significantly its financial stability, the number of awards and activities offered to its constituents, and the quantity and quality of the programs offered at the regional and national meetings of the APA. In addition, the Psi Chi newsletter was upgraded substantially, the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research was developed and published, we entered the electronic age of publication, and we upgraded our membership services dramatically. Kay made sure that the funds for these various programs, awards, and activities were available, and she constantly reminded the Council that we were here to serve our constituents.

Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, has increased it stature considerably among honor societies and in the field of psychology. In large measure, these gains in stature can be linked to the dedication and passion that Kay brought to the table. I thank Kay for her wonderful contributions and I will miss her greatly.

Rebecca M. Stoddart, PhD
Saint Mary's College
Psi Chi Midwestern Regional Vice-President, 1995-1998
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1998-1999
Psi Chi National President, 1999-2000
Psi Chi National Past-President, 2000-2001

My most immediate association when I think of Kay is of her fabulous voice and laugh. I always knew it was her when she called me on the phone, not only because of the Chattanooga accent, but because she had a wonderfully melodic way of speaking. The best thing, though, was her laugh. No one that I know laughs as easily, even in the midst of a problem or crisis, or with such gusto. Kay's laugh is emblematic of the joy that she had in living and interacting with all of the people that she encountered each day. Whether I talked with her at 9:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m., over a major problem or minor detail, somewhere in the conversation we both ended up laughing a full belly laugh, and I confess I probably egged her on just so that I could enjoy listening to her longer.

On the business end of things, Kay was to the point and gracious at the same time. As a member of the National Council, I admit to asking my share of dumb questions about budget statements, investments, and audits, and Kay always explained everything clearly and at the same time conveyed her delight in the questions. She loved everything about Psi Chi, and suffered fools more than gladly in their ignorance; she was honestly delighted to have those of us on Council interested in learning more about the details of the business side of the organization, even if it meant explaining the same things over and over to different people, and sometimes, the same people!

When you think about it, Kay worked with a National Council made up of psychology faculty who were usually strangers to each other and to the students who elected them. And in the midst of these strangers, Kay rose to the occasion, welcoming each new Council member, informing them about their job responsibilities, and then implementing decisions that the Council made. During her 12 years with Psi Chi, Kay worked with a Council that changed every year in some way, but throughout Kay was dedicated to excellence and keeping the interests of the Psi Chi members always at the forefront of our decisions and strategic plans. "How can we better serve our members, the students who are inducted into this organization and remain as lifetime members?" This was Kay's guiding principle in directing the organization and in her steadfast focus in working with Council members. You only have to look at all of the new programs that have been developed over the past 12 years during Kay's term at Executive Officer to see her steadfast devotion to the Psi Chi members. Kay was all business during business meetings, and very warm and personable after our long meetings were over. She somehow tracked down the best, not necessarily the most expensive, restaurants in every city that we attended for conventions, and had reservations at the ready without us asking. I got to meet her wonderful husband, children, and grandchildren because Kay welcomed members of the National Council to Chattanooga and Charleston for meetings and invited us to social functions. I know that Kay wouldn't mind my saying that while she loved Psi Chi, she lived for her family and delighted in their accomplishments, but mostly their happiness.

I was glad to have gotten to work with Kay and to become her friend. I only ran for national president of Psi Chi because of Kay's urging, and attribute much of my effectiveness as President to Kay's leadership and support. I never would have tried martinis without Kay's challenge, nor known that referring to someone as a "wreck"—as in "She's a wreck!"—was actually a compliment. Mostly, though, in our friendship Kay was a role model for me, an incredibly smart, gracious, and innovative woman who stretched her mind and heart far beyond the Tennessee border and made a difference in this world. And Psi Chi and everyone involved with this marvelous organization will be at a loss for a long while without her.

Harold Takooshian, PhD
Fordham University
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1993-1997
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1997-1998
Psi Chi National President, 1998-1999
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1999-2000

Like most longtime Psi Chi faculty advisors, I first met Kay Wilson during an unforgettable weekend in 1991. Imagine the outpouring of love at the August meeting of APA in San Francisco, where beloved Ruth Cousins was leaving after 33 years as the head of Psi Chi and founder of Psi Beta, and enthusiastically introducing Kay as her successor to her hundreds of adoring colleagues and friends.

Though Kay was taking over what has been called "the house that Ruth built," Kay certainly succeeded in making it her own, in many ways. As a Psi Chi Council officer for seven of Kay's 12 years (1993-2000), I saw close-up how Kay built on Ruth's legacy at every turn—its expanded membership, programs, staffing, technology, finances, bylaws, procedures, even its housing in a new manse in Chattanooga. With abundant energy, talent, and southern charm, Kay was driven to do her best, and it showed. How many nonprofit organizations double in size in 10 years, and are advised by their accountant that they should spend more in proportion to their tripled revenues? By the time we celebrated Psi Chi's 70th anniversary in Boston in 1999, Kay had somehow managed to lead Psi Chi to be numero uno among all honor societies, psychology organizations, and even nonprofit associations in the USA. Kay spoke of retirement and more family life after 2000, but her remarkable success was leading her instead to even larger responsibility, as the President-Elect of the Association of College Honor Societies.

Psi Chi is a truly blessed organization, touching literally hundreds of thousands of lives since 1929. By some mysterious process, Psi Chi brings out the very best in all of us—its staff (Kay, Dan, Paula, Scott, Amie), its officers, and its vast web of active members. Kay's deep love for Psi Chi was very clear, and certainly benefited all of us who worked with her.

Michael Wertheimer, PhD
University of Colorado at Boulder (emeritus)
Psi Chi Rocky Mountain Regional Vice-President, 1973-1979
Psi Chi Historian, 1979-1983
Psi Chi National President-Elect, 1989-1990
Psi Chi National President, 1990-1991
Psi Chi National Past-President, 1991-1992
An Oral History of Psi Chi

Kay Wilson was given the challenging chore of trying to fill the shoes of her illustrious, legendary, long-term predecessor as Psi Chi's Executive Director, Ruth Hubbard Cousins, and fulfilled the duties of that task admirably and with extraordinary competence. Her outstanding leadership, creativity, responsibility, and good sense made a brilliant contribution to the continuing welfare of Psi Chi, the largest psychological organization in the world. The lives of an enormous number of individuals have been deeply enriched by Kay, and she will be sorely missed.

From Past Vice-Presidents:

Dennis P. Carmody, PhD
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1997-2000

Kay Wilson was committed to providing programs to current members and reaching out to recruit new members. Two examples come to mind. She was dedicated to providing a Psi Chi Miniconvention held in conjunction with the annual APA convention. At the first miniconvention in New York City, students were enthusiastic about the program and encouraged continuing the offering. Kay was also influential in keeping Psi Chi's presence at the annual meetings of the New England Psychological Association. She encouraged the support of the National Council in providing funding for the Psi Chi program at NEPA to include a key speaker and workshops on graduate school and student research. I am sure that the growth in Psi Chi membership in the past decade is based on her efforts to attract and keep active student members.

Stephen T. Donohue, EdD
Grand Canyon University
Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President, 1982-1984

I am deeply saddened to hear of our loss of such a fine person as Kay Wilson. She was always such a delightful individual to talk with on the telephone and ever helpful in solving chapter difficulties. Our society has lost a significant part of the Psi Chi family, and I know it saddens us all. My personal prayers are for her family and friends during this time of grief and sorrow.

Karen E. Ford, PhD
Mesa State College
Psi Chi Rocky Mountain Regional Vice-President, 1991-1995

I'm really very sad about the loss of Kay. She was such an asset to Psi Chi and a joy to be around. I feel honored that I had the opportunity to work with her on the National Council. And after that it was always a pleasure to run into her at APA or RMPA when she was able to attend.

I would like for people to know that she meant a lot to me.

Raymond D. Fowler, PhD
Former APA Chief Executive Officer
Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President, 1980-1984
Psi Chi Distinguished Member

My association with Psi Chi began when I was a student in the 1950s and continued over the years as a Psi Chi advisor, a regional vice president, and, during my years as APA Chief Executive Officer, as a close colleague of Ruth Cousins and then of Kay Wilson. Ruth brought to Psi Chi a warmth and level of commitment that I did not think would ever be repeated, so I was delighted to find, as I got to know Kay, that same level of commitment and a personality that was warm, open, and kind. Kay's energy and managerial skills brought Psi Chi to new levels of efficiency and influence, and increased its size and resources. I enjoyed many conversations with Kay about how APA and Psi Chi could work together to strengthen our relationship with undergraduate students and promote their interest in lifelong involvement with psychology. I wish we had had more time to work together. I will miss her very much, as will thousands of APA members who came to know and respect her work.

John D. Hogan, PhD
St. John's University
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 1986-1987, 2000-2001

More than anything, I will remember Kay for her graciousness. I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone, although I'm certain she had many opportunities—and reasons—to do so. One year at the APA Convention we walked back to the Psi Chi suite together after an address. We both agreed that the speaker had been a disappointment, but Kay spent most of the time trying to find good things to say about him. I was impressed with how hard she worked at being generous to people.

Nancy J. Karlin, PhD
University of Northern Colorado
Psi Chi Rocky Mountain Regional Vice-President, 1995-1999

This message is in regard to Kay's concern and support for others. While serving on the National Council, I was allowed to experience many instances in which Kay showed her concern and support for others. One instance in particular will always stay with me.
It was January, and in an attempt to complete some of those items professors sometimes put off during a semester, I went to the dentist. The dentist determined that I needed to have a root canal. The procedure went flawlessly, or so we thought. Two days later I rose to ready myself to fly to San Francisco for Psi Chi's midwinter Council meeting. I struggled with even being able to get out of bed. However, I felt I needed to board that plane because of a report I needed to give. Of course, no one said I absolutely needed to go, but I felt I was a necessary commodity. I struggled to get to the airport, but made it. Flew without incident and arrived at the hotel. After a seemingly restful night, I rose the next day to find my forehead swelling on one side. I called Kay, who immediately came to check on me. Together we decided to call my dentist four states away.

I missed that morning's meetings while waiting on medication to be approved across several state borders. I went to some of the afternoon meetings, all the while feeling worse. Kay invited me to dinner, more to keep an eye on me rather than anything else. As we proceeded back to the hotel, Kay's instincts took over. Realizing that I was getting worse, she asked the name of the hotel's doctor. My left side was swelling from my collar bone to the top of my head. Fortunately, the doctor was just around the corner. Kay took me to the doctor and stayed with me in downtown San Francisco. Kay could have been with her daughter who lived there at the time, but she stayed with me. I was not a family member, and someone she would only have a working relationship with for another year. None of those issues mattered to Kay.

The story doesn't end there. The doctor admitted me to St. Mary's Hospital, which was a distance from our hotel. Kay loaded the two of us and my luggage in a cab and waited for me to be admitted to the hospital. I really needed her. The waiting room was full of the normal Friday night crowd of an emergency room, but somehow I felt safe with Kay at my side. I spent the next five days in the hospital with morphine and drip antibiotic flowing into my system, thinking surgery was imminent. My husband and children were in Colorado with a severe flu, and my dad had a heart attack the day I left for the meeting. Kay knew what I needed most at that time--a good heart and strong shoulder to lean on. Kay stayed right there, holding my hand and doing so many things a mom would do. Kay even lent me $30 for any unforeseen incidentals. Somehow she knew I would never find an ATM machine in that hospital. I never did need the $30, but Kay wanted to make sure I was taken care of.

As Kay left to fly back to Chattanooga, she leaned down and whispered, "I'll be praying for you." At a time when I felt alone and scared, Kay brought peace and security to a place where it was needed most. It is my hope that she is finding the same kind of peace and security that she provided to so many others over the years.

Michael C. Robinson, PhD
Psi Chi Southwestern Regional Vice-President, 1998-2000

I was sorry to read about Kay's illness and death. When I first came onto the Council, I had just lost my father. Kay and Harold [Takooshian] were the only ones who knew about it at the time, and both were very quick to offer their support to me.

Kay was always pleasant to me, and she was supportive of my ideas for improving both my chapter and the organization. I remember receiving a phone call from her regarding an offhand comment I made about sponsoring a banner at football and basketball games. We talked for over 30 minutes about getting a "Psi Chi supports TCU [Texas Christian University] basketball" banner made and hung in the coliseum—what color it should be, how big it should be, what wording to use, etc. In the end, we settled on blue words and a yellow background so that the student athletes could autograph the banner. Since this was the year we had a very good team, we played four games on national TV and our banner was shown on ESPN. That thrilled Kay, and she called me back to let me know she had seen it.

On a more personal note, she was fiercely protective of her Council members. The year we met in San Juan, I arrived and checked in early. The room I was given had not even been cleaned and was full of dirty dishes, glassware, and other evidence of a large party! When I went back downstairs to ask about having it cleaned, Kay walked in and asked how things were. When I told her why I was back at the desk, she turned to the desk clerk and insisted upon speaking to the manager. When he came out, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the housing arrangements and had us all moved into the tower suites.

Duane M. Rumbaugh, PhD
Georgia State University (emeritus)
Psi Chi Western Regional Vice-President, 1957-1959
Psi Chi Distinguished Member

Kay was a very inspiring person and leader of Psi Chi. She loved students and loved people who loved students. Student interests were the beginning and end of her agenda. In my view, her goal was to inspire students to learn and to research the unknown in psychology. She was a fine person and is a great loss to Psi Chi and the profession.

Linda Skitka, PhD
University of Illinois at Chicago
Psi Chi Midwestern Regional Vice-President, 1993-1995

I am very saddened to learn about Kay's illness; she is an incredibly special person, and I cannot imagine Psi Chi without her. I also cannot think of the appropriate words to express what she means to the organization or to me personally. Kay for me has become the embodiment of the honor, care, service, and pride that Psi Chi stands for. She has always celebrated the successes of the chapters in her care, and the growth and strength of Psi Chi to a considerable degree can be attributed to her energy, graciousness, and leadership. What a terrible loss her death will be to me personally and to the organization she worked so hard to support and build for so many years. It is impossible to imagine her bright light ceasing to shine in the world, and those of us who have worked with her over the years will miss that light dearly.

Robert A. Youth, PhD
Dowling College
Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President, 2001-2003

I am deeply saddened by the announcement you sent about Kay's death. Your accompanying statement was appreciated. Some of you know that I go back to having worked with Ruth Cousins. Psi Chi has definitely been blessed with having had two very exceptional individuals serve it. I would like to express my sympathies to all of you who worked most closely with Kay and about whom she always had positive things to say. I hope that you will all continue to be the glue that holds Psi Chi together, and I want you all to know that I appreciate very much your work under these difficult times.

National Council Pictures

The Psi Chi National Council, pictured at the 2002 national business meeting during the Psi Chi/APA Convention in Chicago. In front, from left: Southwestern VP John Davis, Rocky Mountain VP Carla Reyes, outgoing Past-President Jesse Purdy, and outgoing President Peter Giordano. In back: Midwestern VP Scott VanderStoep, Southeastern VP Alvin Wang, Eastern VP Robert Youth, incoming President-Elect (2002-03) Martha Zlokovich, and Executive Officer Kay Wilson. Not pictured: incoming President Elizabeth Yost Hammer and Western VP Christopher Koch (who is currently the 2003-04 President-Elect).

Psi Chi Western VP Christopher Koch (left) with Psi Chi's WPA 2000 Distinguished Lecturer Robert Cialdini and Psi Chi Executive Officer Kay Wilson.

At the first national Psi Chi Miniconvention in 1995 in New York City, Kay and Vincent Prohaska cochair an interactive workshop to learn what members think about Psi Chi and its future activities.

Past Psi Chi presidents Joe Horvat and Steve Davis with Kay at an APA Convention.

Kay is pictured with past Psi Chi presidents at the honor society's 70th anniversary in 1999. In front, from left: Harold Takooshian, Florence Denmark, Norine Jalbert, Harold Moon, and Ray Fowler. In back: Kay Wilson, Charles Spielberger, Bruce Fretz, Slater Newman, Steve Davis, Bernard Lubin (deceased), Michael Wertheimer, Susan Dutch, and Rebecca Stoddart.

Florence L. Denmark, past-president of both Psi Chi and APA, with Kay at an APA Convention.

Joe Horvat, who injured his knee in the 5K race at the 1994 APA Convention, was urged by Kay to deliver his presidential address in the Psi Chi hospitality suite, where he could sit and apply ice to his leg.

Kay with past Psi Chi president Norine Jalbert at a midwinter Council meeting.

Kay with past Psi Chi president Slater Newman at the 1992 SEPA Convention.

At the 2001 APA Convention, then Psi Chi National President Jesse Purdy presents a plaque to Kay in recognition of 10 years of outstanding service as Psi Chi Executive Officer.

Kay with past Psi Chi presidents Harold Takooshian, Rebecca Stoddart, and Jesse Purdy.

Kay with past Psi Chi president Rebecca Stoddart.

At the 1995 Psi Chi Miniconvention in New York City, Council members celebrate with a Psi Chi cake frosted in blue and gold. From left: Peter Giordano, Norine Jalbert, Kay Wilson, Harold Takooshian, Jesse Purdy, Joseph Horvat, Stephen Davis, Beth Rienzi, and Rebecca Stoddart.

The National Council at the 1998 Psi Chi Miniconvention. From left: Michael Robinson, Nancy Karlin, Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Harold Takooshian, Slater Newman, Rebecca Stoddart, Kay Wilson, Louis Lippman, and Dennis Carmody.

Kay with past Psi Chi president Harold Takooshian.

At the 1992 APA Convention, standing, from left: Bernard Lubin (deceased), Marilyn Borges, Susan Dutch, Joseph Horvat, Michael Wertheimer, Stephen Davis, Terrence Luce, and Karen Ford. In front, Slater Newman, Kay Wilson, and Norine Jalbert.

The 1996-97 Psi Chi National Council. In front, from left: Karen Jackson, Norine Jalbert, and Slater Newman. In back: Kay Wilson, Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Beth Menees Rienzi, Jesse Purdy, Harold Takooshian, Nancy Karlin, and Rebecca Stoddart.

Longtime Psi Chi Executive Director Ruth Cousins with John Hogan and Kay Wilson.

Norine Jalbert and Kay Wilson present the 1996 Denmark National Faculty Advisor Award to Michael Robinson.

Copyright 2003 (Volume 8, 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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