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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2018
 

PSI CHI Central Office
Celebrates 30 Years in Chattanooga

Bradley Cannon, PSI CHI Central Office
https://doi.org/10.24839/2164-9812.Eye22.2.44
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In November 1987, Psi Chi Central Office relocated to Scenic City Chattanooga, gladly leaving behind the high costs of operations in Washington, DC (Davis & Wertheimer, 2000). Thanks to advances in communication technology, Psi Chi leaders at that time determined that it was no longer necessary be geographically located near the nation’s capital and the headquarters for the American Psychological Association (MacKinney, 1987). The organization continues to benefit from this move, even to this day.

As most psychology professionals know, Psi Chi is the largest student psychological honor society in the world. Since its founding in 1929, more than three-quarters of a million members have been inducted to membership through chapters located at more than 1,130 four-year college campuses (About, n.d.).

In the past 30 years, the office has expanded from a staff of one and a half full-time employees to a full-time staff of 14 professionals in the areas of information technology, communications, membership, and administrative roles (Central Office staff, n.d.). Alongside the growth of the office, membership benefits have drastically increased. Psi Chi now provides more than $400,000 annually in scholarships, awards, and grants. Additional benefits include a state-of-the-art career center for psychology professionals, and the opportunity to read and publish in Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research and Eye on Psi Chi magazine (Ten reasons, n.d.).

Another major opportunity that Psi Chi membership provides is a platform to network with likeminded people interested in the field of psychology. Psi Chi encourages chapters to host and participate in local events about career advice, attending graduate school, personal growth, fund-raising, and community service.

Ruth Cousins: Shaping Psi Chi
Thirty years ago, Psi Chi Executive Director Ruth Hubbard Cousins led the move to Chattanooga. Known as the face of Psi Chi for 33 years, Ruth single-handedly advanced the society in many ways, such as making Psi Chi a certified member of the Associate of College Honor Societies. In a recent phone interview, her daughter, Carol Tracy says, “My mother loved working with the professors and the students, plus going to the APA conventions. She genuinely loved her job and her role with Psi Chi.”

Encouraged by her mother, Carol founded Psi Beta in 1981, which is Psi Chi’s sister psychology honor society for two-year colleges. Together, mother and daughter worked at the Little Art Shop on the corner of Frazier and Forrest from 1987 until Ruth retired in 1991 (Andreoli Mathie, 2007). About her mother, who passed away in 2007, Carol tells us, “I know she would be thrilled that Psi Chi has grown from a small organization to what it is now—an international honor society. I remember how much she loved seeing it grow each year.”

Between Then and Now
After Ruth Cousins retired, Kay Wilson took over as Executive Officer. Outgrowing the Little Art Shop, the office expanded to the Carriage House off Georgia Avenue in 1998 and purchased a Victorian house on 825 Vine Street in Fort Wood in 1999. “During Kay’s twelve-and-a-half-year tenure, Psi Chi’s assets more than tripled, from one million to over three million” (Bockert, 2003). Kay built the staff from three to five full-time positions.

When Psi Chi first moved to Chattanooga, the UTC psychology department and officials of the university graciously extended their assistance to Psi Chi (MacKinney, 1988), a connection that is strong to this day. After a recent meeting at the Central Office’s new location at University Towers, the UTC Chapter President, student Margaret Dempsey says, “Psi Chi is a very active organization on campus. I joined because I wanted to be involved in their activities as well as work to make it even more diverse in its involvement. Communicating and collaborating with the Central Office has been nothing but pleasant.”

About her recent visit, Margaret says, “It’s a beautiful building staffed with very welcoming individuals. Upon entering the building, you are greeted by friendly faces that are willing to assist you with anything you may need.”

Over the years, Psi Chi has employed local college students from Chattanooga State, Covenant College, Southern Adventist University, and UTC. In 2010, with the encouragement of then President Dr. Alvin Wang, Psi Chi started a paid internship program with positions offered in areas of awards, design, finance, information technology, membership, merchandise, research, social media, and writing.

Doorways to Infinite Possibilities
In 2009, Psi Chi changed from a national to international organization, eager to charter new chapters beyond the United States and all around the world (Zlokovich, n.d.). Current Executive Director Dr. Martha S. Zlokovich says, “We have chapters in 14 different countries, making Chattanooga an international hub for the recognition and promotion of excellence in the science and application of psychology.” The Society continues to charter new chapters in the United States too, such as the recent addition of 13 new chapters during the 2016–17 academic year (Psi Chi Central Office, 2017).

Recently, Psi Chi also launched its first-ever Annual Giving Campaign, Give Back to Psi Chi, to continue expanding its scholarships program. Other goals of the campaign are to support Psi Chi awards and grants programs, a Membership Assistance Fund to allow financially challenged members to join the organization for free, and a new help-seeking behavior presidential initiative (Need Help—Ask). Donations are welcome at http://www.psichi.org/donations/

“To me, Psi Chi means reaching new limits,” Margaret says. “Through being a member and officer, I have been able to collaborate with professionals, volunteer more, and work with a team to encourage psychology majors to stay excited about our field.”

According to Dr. Zlokovich, “In the future, I see Psi Chi becoming more important in supporting a rich psychology education for all of our chapters, as well as continuing to grow internationally. My dream is for Psi Chi to award 100 scholarships by the time we reach 100 years in 2029.”


References
About. (n.d.). Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/?page=about
Andreoli Mathie, V. (2007). Ruth Hubbard Cousins, May 21, 1920–January 11, 2007. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.psichi.org/resource/resmgr/about_
images/ruth_hubbard_cousins.pdf

Bockert, D. P. (2003, Fall). Kay Wilson, Psi Chi Executive Officer. Eye on Psi Chi, 8(1), 12–13.
Central Office Staff. (n.d.). Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/?page=staff
Davis, S. F., & Wertheimer, M. (Eds.). (2000). Ruth Hubbard Cousins. An oral history of Psi Chi (pp. 35–40). Chattanooga, TN: Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.
MacKinney, A. C. (1987, Fall). Psi Chi has a new address. Psi Chi Newsletter, 13(4), 1–3.
MacKinney, A. C. (1988, Winter). Message of the president. Psi Chi Newsletter, 14(1), 1–4.
Psi Chi Central Office. (2017, June 26). Welcome new chapters: 2016–17. Psi-Chi-ology Lab, 1. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/blogpost/987366/277426/
Ten reasons why you should join Psi Chi. (n.d.). Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/?page=member_benefits
Zlokovich, M. S. (n.d.). International history. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/?international_histor

 

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Copyright 2018 (Vol. 22, Iss. 2) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


 
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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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