Psi Chi’s 80th Birthday Celebrated at Yale University

Psi Beta and Psi Chi Celebrate
Famous 1929 Yale Meeting and Birth of Psi Chi
By Harold Takooshian, L. William Cheney, John D. Hogan

     On September 4, 2009, Psi Beta was represented among 50 faculty and students from as far as North Carolina who converged on the stately President’s Room of Yale University in New Haven CT for a convocation to mark “80 years of excellence.”  This marked the anniversary of the Ninth International Congress of Psychology at Yale during September 1-7, 1929—“the most impressive gathering of psychologists in the history of the field”—with 826 participants from 21 nations, including such notables as Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, Kurt Lewin, and Alexander Luria. 

     At the 2009 convocation, a keynote message delivered by historian John Hogan detailed the founding of Psi Chi on September 4, 1929 during the Yale Congress. Psi Chi was founded by two University of Kansas students, Edwin Newman and Frederick “Bud” Lewis.  Despite Harvard professor Edwin Boring’s warning against starting yet “another abortive, debilitating organization,” these two students courageously persisted to form Psi Chi, which is now the world’s largest honor society in any field! Psi Chi is touching the lives of over 500,000 life members at 1,100 campuses. In 1981, Psi Chi formed Psi Beta, a new honor society to recognize excellence among psychology students at two-year and community colleges. 

     This convocation was hosted by Yale professors Peter Salovey, Laurie Santos, and Woo-Kyoung Ahn, who noted Yale’s continuing commitment to undergraduate teaching alongside scholarship. The International Division of the American Psychological Association was represented by its past-Presidents Florence Denmark, Uwe Gielen, and Richard Velayo, who detailed the remarkable growth of “international psychology” since their group formed in 1997. Psi Beta was represented by past-President L. William Cheney, who detailed how Psi Beta has now expanded to nearly 150 U.S. community colleges.

     On behalf of Psi Chi, Eastern Vice President Jason Young and Past-President Vincent Prohaska announced Psi Chi’s recent vote – in 2009 – to re-name Psi Chi “the International Honor Society in Psychology”–with new chapters now forming outside of North America.  Psi Chi also presented to Yale a plaque to salute “80 years of excellence.”

     A special Proclamation from mayor John DeStefano proclaimed September 4, 2009 as “PSYCHOLOGY DAY” in the City of New Haven.  The Proclamation saluted Yale, Psi Chi, Psi Beta, APA and APS. It read in part, “Psi Chi in 1981 helped to form Psi Beta—the first honor society to serve the unique needs of students at two-year colleges, and Psi Beta has now grown into a pre-eminent honor society, with chapters at 150 campuses across the nation.”

     Before the two-hour convocation ended with a reception and birthday cake, a group photo was taken. The group is shown beneath the picture of two beloved former Executive Officers of Psi Chi and Psi Beta–Ruth Hubbard Cousins (1958-1991) and her daughter Carol Tracy (1981-2005), who boldly shaped their honor societies.  This convocation was taped by Richard Velayo and Steven Salbod, and a DVD is available from  Details on the convocation appear on Psi Chi’s website.

Note: Harold Takooshian of Fordham University has been an honorary member of Psi Beta since 2003.  L. William Cheney of the Community College of Rhode Island is Past-President of Psi Beta.  John D. Hogan of Saint Johns University is Psi Beta’s Historian.

<p>Bill Cheney at the Yale Meeting</p>

Bill Cheney at the Yale Meeting

<p>Bill making his speach at the Yale meeting</p>

Bill making his speech at the Yale meeting

<p>Yale Celebration Assembled </p>

Yale Celebration Assembled

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