Candidates for APA President
Bruce Overmier, teacher and researcher, has been in psychology leadership roles for many years.
Overmier was born in New York, raised a Midwesterner in Ohio, and became infused with "Minnesota nice" through 40 years as a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota (Graduate Faculties of Psychology, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science). There he served as executive officer (1973-1978; 1981-1983) and director (1983-1989) of the Center for Research in Learning, Perception & Cognition (now the Center for Cognitive Science). Overmier is also Professor II in biological and medical psychology at the University of Bergen (Norway) since 1992. Overmier was a licensed psychologist in Minnesota from 1976 to 1994.
As a scholar, Overmier has received numerous postdoctoral awards (e.g., from the National Institutes of Health, Fulbright-Hayes, James McKeen Cattell Foundation, etc.)--including the Minnesota Psychological Association's Outstanding Psychologist Award (2004). Other awards include Scholar of the College Award from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota (1989-1992), the Quad-L Award in Psychology from the University of New Mexico (1999) and the Clifford T. Morgan Distinguished Service Award from the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience & Comparative Psychology (2001). He was selected as a National Research Society Sigma Xi Distinguished National Lecturer 1999-2000. Full list at www.psych.umn.edu/faculty/overmier/biography.htm.
Overmier's research spans specialties of learning, memory, stress, psychosomatic disorders and their biological substrates. This research is carried out with a variety of species of laboratory animals as well as with human client volunteers (suffering Down syndrome, Korsakoff syndrome or Alzheimer's disease), yielding some 200 research articles, chapters and books.
Numerous grants to Overmier include ones from NIMH, NICHD and NSF for research and for training of students, including a multiyear training program for fostering minority and women scholars in psychology.
In serving the psychological community, Overmier has been editor and associate editor of several leading journals. He has also been a member and chair of the National Academy of Science's United States National Committee for Psychology (1991-2002) served on the Board of Directors of American Psychological Society, the Executive Board of the Federation of Behavioral, Psycological and Cognitive Sciences and served as president of the Midwestern Psychological Association, the Pavlovian Society and APA Divs. 1 (Society for General Psychology), 3 (Experimental) and 6 (Behavioral Neuroscience & Comparative). Overmier is currently president of the International Union of Psychological Science, which works to advance basic and applied psychology worldwide.
Service to APA has spanned 30 years and included numerous APA task forces, committees, boards and the Council of Representatives. In particular, one could note service on the special Task Forces on Representation that increased council so as to provide broader representation across the discipline and profession and on the Task Force on the Integration of Science and Practice in APA; service on the Board of Publications in the transition to electronic products; three terms on council; and two terms on the Board of Directors. Overmier is well-schooled about the range of APA activities and its resources.
Overmier's candidate statement
APA is the world's largest psychological organization. And, with size come problems of expectations and effectiveness. Great things are done by APA; but even more is expected. Yet, few want to pay for it or contribute the efforts needed. There is no longer a culture of "belonging" to APA; I wonder, is that because APA is not delivering on its promises of service to individuals, the discipline and the profession? Intriguingly, it is not a failure of those at APA wanting to do so, so the problem must lie elsewhere.
The symptoms of the challenges before APA are everywhere, big and little. National policy-makers do not see APA as a relevant primary resource for guidance in matters of health, education or science. Nor do elected officials feel any duty to our discipline based on the contributions of psychologists (I am not just talking money).
APA is no longer growing, although the numbers of PhDs in psychology continue to grow rapidly. We are failing either to communicate to young psychologists or what we are communicating is not of value to them. I fear it is some of both.
Even for our loyal members, APA is sometimes more of a challenge to them than an aid. Our current ethics code--in contrast to decades ago--serves less of a guide to good practice than as an instrument that puts members at risk. Our carefully prepared publication manual is bloated, commonly unhelpful and sometimes behind times. These were unintended.
APA has lost focus and impact by undertaking too wide agenda; diffusion of effort minimizes impact. I am not claiming that the myriad of efforts are without merit. Indeed, they mostly all are of merit. But, trying to do all things is the way towards succeeding at nothing.