UConn Chapter

The Birth of Psi Chi at UConn

David B. Miller

When I joined the faculty at UConn in 1980, I was surprised to see that our Department had no Psi Chi chapter.  But, as the new kid on the block, I decided to not make waves in terms of instigating changes, plus, my research was in full swing and kept me plenty busy.  Still, I pondered how we could not have a local chapter of the national (now international) honors society in psychology.

Sometime in 1982, I was contacted by a very eager and energetic undergraduate named Carolyn Goulet (now Carolyn Vanacore).   She was interested in looking into starting a Psi Chi chapter at UConn and asked if I would help.  Her enthusiasm was infectious, so I wanted to encourage and support her.  But, my schedule precluded taking on yet another task so I agreed to help her as long as she could take charge of finding out what needed to be done.  She not only agreed but was eager to take the lead.

Within a year, all of the necessary paperwork was filed with the national Psi Chi office, and our chapter was accepted and established as an active chapter by the national organization, with our official charter being issued on October 5, 1983.

Carolyn, of course, was our first President, and she was able to find other key officers to serve with her until an election took place the following year.  I served as their faculty advisor.

Working with these students was inspiring.  I greatly admired their energy and enthusiasm in not only making this happen but in sustaining an active chapter for years to come.  Each year, different officers were involved with their unique ideas about events, activities, and fundraisers, but it was certainly the officers, not me, that resulted in a very successful chapter of Psi Chi at The University of Connecticut.   I remained their faculty advisor for approximately 16 years and turned the reigns over to Dr. Stephen Maxson who, along with new officers annually, proceeded to continue to evolve our chapter to its present state.

The Growth of Psi Chi at Uconn

Stephen C. Maxson

In 1999, Skip Lowe invited me to be Faculty Advisor for Psi Chi. Although I did not know what Psi Chi was or what I would do as it advisor, I said yes.  Fortunately, I had the support and encouragement of many. These included skip, David Miller, Linda Ferrell, Garvin Boudel, Ed Dagata, and the officers of the Executive Committee.  More recently, Psi Chi and I have had the support and help of Jim Green, James Chrobak, Kelsey Keef and many others. It takes a department to have a successful Psi Chi chapter.

I soon learned that Psi Chi is more than just a pretty face dispensing honors.  It should and can contribute to the educational experience in psychology.  The Induction Ritual states, “The name of our organization, Psi Chi, represents the two Greek words, “PSYCE”and “CHEIRES” “PSYCE” suggests scholarship, the enrichment of our minds; therefore, we have chosen as members those whose grades are outstanding.  “CHEIRES” stands for fellowship and research.  Every semester, our chapter of Psi Chi meets three times. Two of our chapter meetings have usually focused on fellowship. At these we tell our stories and we share food.  There has also been more formal concern with what can be done with my degree in psychology. So we have had career and GRE nights. There have also been commitments to works of charity such as Alix’s Lemonade Stand and Relay for Life which raise funds for cancer research.  With regard to scholarship, there is a scholarly talk at every one of fall and spring induction ceremonies. Also, in spring 2013,   Michael Shermer and Jorge Cham were invited to give Psi Chi sponsored talks, and the minimum GPA in psychology was raised to 3.4.

For 14 years. I have had the pleasure of working with the elected Executive Committee for Psi Chi. These are the best of the best of students in Psychology.  Thy are extremely bright, very knowledgeable, empathic, enthusiastic, and hard working. They are intellectually and personally stimulating. Without them, nothing could have been accomplished by out Psi Chi chapter. They provided the vision, and they did the work. As advisor, I simply have been a guide and a facilitator.  I will truly miss working with the best off the best of our students

Now, it is time for a new faculty advisor. For 2014-2015, the faculty advisor will be Heather Bortfeld. We have been co-advisors this year. Psi Chi will be in her good hands.