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What Can Your Department Do with a $5,000 Award?

This award recognizes departments that show a pattern of support for service from faculty at all levels, including a demonstration that service to the discipline is rewarded in faculty tenure and promotion and that service is an integral part of training and mentoring.

By Suzanne Wandersman

Your department could be selected to receive a $5,000 award and be recognized for your commitment to service. That’s what happened to the Department of Psychology at George Mason University, the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida, the Department of Psychology at Davidson College, and the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. The APA Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) selected these departments in 2007 and 2006 to receive the Departmental Award for Culture of Service in the Psychological Sciences. This award recognizes departments that show a pattern of support for service from faculty at all levels, including a demonstration that service to the discipline is rewarded in faculty tenure and promotion and that service is an integral part of training and mentoring.

University of Minnesota, Department of Psychology
The University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychology has used the $5,000 cash award to initiate a program of small grants for Psychology undergraduate majors. The goal is to assist the students in activities linking their psychology studies with outreach and public engagement. The inaugural winners of the APA Engagement Awards, for fall 2007 best articulated the link between their academic studies in psychology and their community projects and were selected for the $500 award.

Two awards will be made each semester, contingent on availability of funds.

University of Florida, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health Professions
The award prize will be used for travel awards to pre- and post-doctoral students (graduate students, interns, and fellows) attending scientific conferences in which they have some service responsibility to the sponsoring scientific organization. Examples include students who serve as student representatives on the Executive Committee of organizations (e.g., Society for Behavioral Medicine panels and APA Division Executive Committees), or students who have participated in the organization of a student science/practice symposium at a conference (e.g., students who have organized symposia on student research fellowships at INS, APA Division 40/ANST, etc.).

Davidson College, Department of Psychology
The department decided to put the money into the college endowment and use the interest from it to fund awards for service leadership that shows a particularly strong application of psychology. The decision hasn’t been made as to whether to restrict the award to current psychology students or reach back into the psychology majors alumni pool as well, but the faculty thought it fitting to continue the idea of a ‘culture of service in the psychological sciences’ by highlighting students who have embodied the same values. The individual award amounts will be $250 initially.

George Mason University, Department of Psychology
The department plans to use $2000 for two awards. One will be an award to an individual for doing service internal to the university (faculty or student) since this sort of service tends not to be rewarded. The second award will be aimed at a graduate student for professional or local community service. The department anticipates awarding $250 a year for each award.

The remaining $3000 will be given to the department’s Center for Psychological Services (CPS). The CPS provides psychological assessment and treatment services to the community and is a training facility for graduate psychology students and a setting for clinical research investigations. The center provides services on a sliding scale basis, but some people still cannot afford the services. The $3000 will go to help defray the costs for clients who could not otherwise afford the services.

For more information about the APA Culture of Service Awards, please contact Suzanne Wandersman at the APA Science Directorate.