Psi Chi, the world's largest psychology honor society, celebrated its 75th anniversary on Sept. 3 at Yale University, the same place that--almost exactly 75 years earlier--it was officially founded during the Ninth International Congress of Psychology in 1929.
The two-hour event drew more than 80 people and featured nearly a dozen speakers from Psi Chi, Yale, APA Div. 52 (International) and Psi Beta, the sister honor society to Psi Chi formed in 1981 for students at two-year institutions.
Former Psi Chi Eastern Vice President John D. Hogan, PhD, of St. John's University, and former Psi Chi staff member Daniel Bockert delivered keynote speeches. They discussed the association's origins, the history of the International Congress and the key roles of two women, Ruth Cousins and Ruth Guilford, in the development of the honor society.
Other speakers included former APA President Florence Denmark, PhD, Div. 52 President Richard Velayo, PhD, Psi Chi Eastern Vice President Vincent Prohaska, PhD, psychologist and Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, PhD, and Robert W. Rieber, PhD, emeritus professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Rieber presented Yale with a copy of his new book about the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who was scheduled to attend the International Congress in 1929 but could not due to ill health. As Rieber pointed out, Vygotsky finally arrived at Yale after 75 years.
The 1929 congress also hosted renowned psychologists such as Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget and Ivan Pavlov. Indeed, the significance of the event's location wasn't lost on the society.
"It's been a year of celebration, where we've done several types of programs to celebrate the achievements of our organization," says Virginia Andreoli Mathie, PhD, Psi Chi's CEO. "Yet the Yale celebration is probably the culmination. It's a way of recognizing the historical birthplace of Psi Chi. To have a ceremony there is a special way of celebrating our 75th anniversary." Psi Chi President Christopher Koch, PhD, and Chief Operations Officer Paula Miller were instrumental in preparing events that were also recognized beyond Yale's walls, Mathie says.
In fact, Yale's home, New Haven, Conn., joined in the commemoration when Mayor John DeStefano Jr. proclaimed Sept. 3 as Psi Chi Day. Ann Garrett Robinson, EdD, a former president of Psi Beta, read the mayor's official proclamation.
Psi Chi has changed drastically since Edwin B. Newman and Frederick H. Lewis, two University of Kansas psychology students, first conceived of it. The two generated interest in the society by writing to colleges and universities throughout the country seeking comments about the proposed society, and 22 chapters joined the society at its inception by signing the charter at Yale, Hogan says.
Psi Chi, psychology's largest organization, now touts more than 467,000 members--all members for life--in 1,027 chapters, and in recent years, the average annual inductee class has grown to greater than 20,000.
And the event was an opportunity for the society to look to the future as much as to the past.
One recent change in the society is the addition of a CEO who will work with the Psi Chi National Council to bolster the society's voice in educational issues and expand its programs.
For example, if Psi Chi members become inactive, they usually do so after they finish their undergraduate work, explains CEO Mathie. One of her goals as CEO, she says, is to develop new programs--such as adding to the nearly $160,000 available annually to fund student research--that will encourage graduate students to remain active members of Psi Chi.
In addition, the society has recently expanded its chapters into Canada, said former Psi Chi President Harold Takooshian, PhD, a former president of Div. 52 and a major organizer of the Yale event.
For more information about Psi Chi, visit www.psichi.org or contact its national office at P.O. Box 709, Chattanooga, TN 37401; (423) 756-2044; e-mail: Psi Chi.