APA members have selected Ronald F. Levant, EdD, dean and professor at the Center for Psychological Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., as their next president. Levant began his term as APA's president-elect on Jan. 1, and assumes the presidency Jan. 1, 2005.
Best known for his work in the psychology of boys and men, Levant has been an active participant in APA governance for 20 years and recently completed nine years of service on APA's Board of Directors, six as recording secretary.
His interest in the psychology of boys and men has spanned both practice and research, focusing on normative male alexithymia--the idea that men are socialized to be unaware of much of their emotional lives, save for a few stereotypically male emotions, such as anger and lust. Levant has researched how such masculinity norms vary among different races, ethnicities and nationalities, as well as between men and women. A private practitioner for most of his career, he also developed a psychoeducational approach that therapists can use to teach men emotional self-awareness and emotional empathy.
Moreover, as part of the hub of psychologists examining this "new psychology of men," Levant co-founded and served as the first president of APA Div. 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity) in 1990.
Levant says he plans to focus on three central issues during his 2005 tenure:
Making psychology a household word. Levant says this initiative to heighten the public's awareness of psychology's impact will be the central theme of his presidency. "I don't think that psychology is valued in our society nearly enough for all of the contributions we can and, in fact, do make," he explains. "People tend not to think of psychologists as part of their everyday life," when in fact psychological scientists and practitioners have a broad, real-world impact.
"I would really like to see psychologists regarded by the public in the same way they regard physicians--as science-based professionals who are extraordinarily helpful," he says.
To achieve that goal, Levant proposes a public education campaign and petitioning Congress to include psychology practitioners in the group of health professions automatically included in federal health legislation, called MODVOP (medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, veterinarian medicine, optometry and podiatry).
Positioning psychology as a top-tier health discipline. Although the health-care trend has recently been to "carve out" behavioral health services, Levant believes that economic pressures will force the system to move those services into an integrated health-care system. APA should be poised, he says, to make the most of the reintegration.
"I want to work with APA members, governance and others to position APA so that we can emerge in a leadership role as a premier primary health-care provider," he explains.
Increasing diversity in the association. While the association has made headway in attracting more diverse psychologists, Levant says APA can still do a better job of recruiting ethnic-minority members and association officers. He plans to build on prior efforts--such as APA's Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training--to make APA more inclusive.
"We do not look like America," he explains. "I want to try to use my time in office to see if we can't give a significant boost to making APA more inclusive and welcoming of diversity--and helping our members become more sensitive and competent to function in a multicultural world."
In addition to his three main themes, Levant says he plans to work with the association's scientific leadership to explore how APA can better collaborate with the American Psychological Society.
"Resources to promote psychology are limited," he explains. "If we coordinate what we do better so that we aren't duplicating each other's efforts, we could be more strategic about what each association does to further the science agenda."
Levant says he will also support the continuation of the annual Education Leadership Conference, held by APA's Education Directorate to discuss issues in psychology education and policy. One such pressing issue for psychologists involved in education, he says, is the demand for accountability.
"I think psychologists, particularly psychology educators and educational psychologists, are ideally positioned to help develop the next generation of measures for assessing student learning outcomes at all levels of education," he explains.
After earning his doctorate from Harvard University in clinical psychology and public practice, Levant served on the faculties of Boston University, where he also earned an MBA, Rutgers and Harvard.
His early-career research focused on family psychology, and even as his focus shifted toward the psychology of boys and men, he remained active in the area, serving as president of APA's Div. 43 (Family) in 1994 and editor of the Journal of Family Psychology.
He also served on the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and was a two-term member of APA's Council of Representatives. He co-chaired the Commission on Education and Training Leading to Licensure in Psychology, which examined the education and training requirements of graduate students and offered up suggestions to improve the training structure.
Recently, he chaired the APA Board of Directors Task Force on Psychology's Response to Terrorism and the follow-up APA-American Psychological Foundation Joint Science-Practice Task Force on Promoting Resilience in Response to Terrorism.
That diverse experience, he says, had enabled him to form connections with all of APA's diverse constituencies. He plans to draw on the strengths of each, he says, to fulfill his goal of making psychology a household word.
--D. SMITH BAILEY
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