At its meeting during APA's 2000 Annual Convention, the Council of Representatives significantly increased the association's investment in academic programs, voting to spend $150,000 next year and $350,000 a year thereafter to fund its Academic Enhancement Initiative, a series of training institutes, workshops and conferences designed specifically for academics.

"This represents a major boost for academic psychologists," said APA Executive Director for Science Richard McCarty, PhD. "This package of programs will allow APA to accomplish many goals, from attracting the brightest undergraduates into our discipline, to educating graduate students as they prepare to begin faculty positions, to supporting ethnic-minority scholars in the early stages of their research careers, to providing new opportunities for psychological scientists to learn the latest research techniques."

The initiative includes several activities, some of which have already begun:

  • Advance Training Institutes, which provide intensive, hands-on training to enhance psychological scientists' technological, theoretical and methodological skills. The first institute, an intensive week of instruction on functional magnetic resonance imaging, was held in June.

  • Early Career Awards for Ethnic-Minority Faculty, which grant stipends to new minority faculty to facilitate developing research grant proposals.

  • The Summer Science Institute, now in its sixth year, which offers a week of intensive, hands-on psychological science to science-oriented undergraduates.

  • The Preparing Future Faculty Program, another program already under way that offers faculty development workshops with a focus on teaching, and awards "Best Innovative Practices" in the integration of teaching, research and application in doctoral programs.

  • The Research Development Conference, a newly launched meeting aimed at fostering research collaboration among new faculty. The conference will be organized around a cutting-edge science theme and led by senior researchers.

  • Academic Career Workshops, an extension of the current program that offers career tips for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, focused on such themes as how to get--and keep--an academic position.

The council approved funding for the Academic Enhancement Initiative with the proviso that an ongoing program assessment be conducted and reported to APA's Finance Committee and the council every three years beginning in 2003.

"This is a major investment for APA that will reap benefits for the discipline for years to come," said McCarty.

Member satisfaction

Several other council actions were aimed at membership recruitment and retention. For one, the council approved $27,000 in APA's 2001 preliminary budget to establish a task force to formulate a plan for fostering member retention and outreach to nonmembers. The task force, to be composed of up to 15 people appointed by the president, will hold conference calls in 2000 and up to two meetings in 2001.

The council also directed APA staff and governance to identify ways to encourage psychologists who have never served on APA's Council of Representatives or an APA board or committee to become active in such roles.

And, in another move to promote member satisfaction, APA's Council of Representatives voted to change its philosophy on due increases. Traditionally, the association has viewed raising dues as an action of last resort, only to be attempted after exhausting other budgetary balancing tactics, such as cutting costs or increasing revenues wherever possible. But by relying on that philosophy, years would go by before APA's Council of Representatives would approve an increase. And, as a result, when an increase was sanctioned, it was often a large one. Beginning next year, APA will increase dues annually by an amount linked to the consumer price index for all urban consumers.

For 2001, that means dues will increase from $215 to $219.

"Members will no longer be hit with hefty dues increases every three or four years," said APA Treasurer Gerald P. Koocher, PhD. "Instead, the cost of membership will be budgeted to track actual inflation costs. The actual dollar amount will be reviewed and voted on by the council each year, so there will be more routine member oversight and control of expenses than ever before."

Other action

The council also:

  • Approved continued funding of APA's Public Education Campaign at the current level of $1 million per year as a regular line in the association's budget with the proviso that the program assessment be continued and reported to the Finance Committee and the council every three years beginning in 2003. The campaign, launched five years ago, promotes psychologists' work and services to specifically selected target audiences.

  • Adopted a statement on freedom of scientific inquiry and presentation of research results, which asserts that the publication of a scientific article by an APA journal "does not constitute its endorsement." In addition, says the statement, APA "will not condone any attempt to censure the reporting or discussion of science within its journals so long as it has been conducted ethically and meets the scientific standards of the profession." The motion comes a year after a 1998 article on pedophilia published in Psychological Bulletin. APA's publication of the article raised concerns by some members of Congress, national family-oriented organizations and radio host Laura Schlessinger that APA was supporting the article's conclusions.

  • Confirmed the recognition of Behavioral Psychology as a specialty in professional psychology. The move brings to nine the number of specialties recognized by APA. The others are Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Psychoanalytic Psychology, School Psychology, Clinical Psychology; Clinical Child Psychology; Counseling Psychology and Industrial/Organization Psychology.

  • Approved the Report of the Task Force on Test User Qualifications, which provides guidelines that will inform test users and the general public of the qualifications that APA considers important for the competent and responsible use of psychological tests.

  • Approved the "Criteria for evaluating treatment guidelines," which will help practitioners assess treatment guidelines (see article on page 69).

  • Approved funding of $100,000 in 2001 to increase publicity and visibility of research published in APA's journals. The council also allocated $25,000 for 2000 to expand the number of press releases APA issues on the psychological science in the association's journals.

  • Approved a resolution on poverty and socioeconomic status, which states that APA will advocate for more research that examines the causes and impact of poverty and economic disparity and will support public policies aimed at improving the lives of people of lower socioeconomic status.

  • Created a task force to look at issues and make recommendations regarding representation of APA divisions and state psychological associations on the Council of Representatives. Currently several states with low populations do not have full voting rights in the council.

  • Received the report from the Working Group on Assisted Suicide and End-of-Life Decisions and established Ad Hoc Committee on End-of-Life Issues. The council approved the inclusion of $26,000 in APA's 2001 preliminary budget for establishing a cross-constituency, five-person committee. The committee will provide oversight and leadership in implementing the recommendations of the working group.

  • Allocated $12,400 from its 2000 contingency funds to support two, three-day meetings of the Task Force on Advertising and Children composed of psychologists with expertise in issues including, but not limited to, child development, social influence and media and technology.

Further Reading

The minutes of the council meeting appear on APA's Web site