APA's highest honor, the Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology Award, went to a psychologist who has been making a difference in psychology as well as in national science and education policy: Richard C. Atkinson, PhD. Fifty years after joining APA and publishing his first scientific paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Atkinson accepted the award during the opening session of APA's 2002 Annual Convention.
Now president of the University of California system, he spent the first 25 years of his career as a psychology researcher and teacher. During the last 25 years, Atkinson has served in numerous administrative positions, including director of the National Science Foundation, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chancellor of the University of California, San Diego. More recently, he has spearheaded a national dialogue on the usefulness of the SAT in predicting students' performance in college--efforts in which his psychology training has been invaluable, he said.
"Throughout my career, whether it was as a faculty member or as an administrator, I've always thought of myself as a psychologist, viewing the world and the issues that I've dealt with from a perspective that's been shaped and molded by being trained as a psychologist and being engaged in psychological research," he said. "The psychological perspective has served me very well. Simply put, a fundamental appreciation of research design, data analysis and interpretation of data, which are really second nature to most psychologists, is too often not well understood, even by those in key policy-making positions."