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A Message From Your President

Angelo DeNisi

This is really strange. I am here writing my LAST column as SIOP President! What feels strange about it is the fact that my moment to actually feel like the President is yet to come in New Orleans. It's almost as though it's over before it begins! So much for my existential angst, and down to more serious matters, such as what has been going on.

Actually, a lot has been going on, and most of it is good. As you may recall, in the last issue of TIP, I discussed the need for a dues increase and asked you to approve it at the Conference. My comments elicited only a single response, and that was from a student who asked that we reconsider the size of the dues increase proposed for students. I responded with my reasons for why I thought it WAS justified, but I don't mean to revisit those points here. Instead, this exchange made some other points salient for me. As part of our exchange, the student asked me where and when he (and presumably other students) would get the chance to speak out on his issue. I realized that the answer to this was that the students have NO voice in any SIOP policies. I had some thoughts about how a student COULD influence member votes, but the alternatives are not really very feasible.

So what about a voice for students? We have more than 2,000 student members of SIOP and, although I believe we provide them excellent service and get them involved in the Conference, should they have formal input into our Society policies? Not too long ago, a different group of students submitted a proposal to the Executive Committee to form a SIOP Student Association (SIOPSA). There were some concerns about the specifics of the proposal, but these two events have brought home (to me, anyway) the need to revisit the role of students in SIOP.

We have basically adopted the APA model where students are not real members and have no real voice. Now, APA Council DOES have student observers, but they are there ONLY to observe. They cannot vote and they cannot even speak to Council unless a member asks permission for them to speak. Although that doesn't sound very impressive, it strikes me that this is still more than we do for students in SIOP. So, what am I proposing? Frankly, I'm not proposing ANYTHING specific right now. Instead, I am proposing that we think more about this and begin talking about it. Elsewhere in TIP you should find the specifics for a "Conversation Hour" (for lack of a better term) at this year's conference. I will host this session, Nancy Tippins will be there as well, and we want to invite any student members of SIOP to come and discuss possible roles for students within SIOP. Also, you should have received by now (I think _ I continue to have problems not writing in real time) a survey from Kim Hoffman and some of her colleagues. This is meant to provide us with further input concerning what roles students want to have in SIOP.

I don't want to mislead anyone. I don't think we are ready to declare students as full members of SIOP, but I believe we are ready to explore other options. Perhaps, if there were a student organization of some sort, this group could collect and coordinate student input on issues facing SIOP. Perhaps this organization could even have some type of representation at the SIOP Executive Committee meetings. We are less interested in an organization that sets up a separate (parallel) structure for students, and more interested in an organization that helps integrate the needs of students with the larger needs of SIOP, and I'll be interested in hearing what others have to say. Please attend this session if you have any interest in further developing the role of students within the governance of SIOP.

You probably also noticed that this year's program included a new feature called Expanded Tutorials. These Expanded Tutorials were designed to provide all members (but primarily academicians) with the latest information about some research-related topics. We began with three (personality, justice and HLM), and the reaction has been overwhelming, so we may expand these expanded tutorials even further next year! In any event, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank David Hofmann for his work on this. We asked David to chair an ad hoc committee to investigate the possibility of offering tutorials of this nature, less than 2 years ago. David's charge was to find out if anyone wanted these workshops; to figure out where and when to offer them; to determine the right price to charge (we didn't want to make money on this, but we did want to cover expenses); and then to find some topics and people and offer the tutorials. He did an amazing job, accomplishing all of those goals and producing a product that our members are responding to in a big way. Even more incredible, he developed an "exit strategy" so that his ad hoc committee could be dissolved, and the work be done as part of other SIOP committee activities. It's effort such as this that makes SIOP work, and we are all grateful to David for the work he has done.

At our recent Executive Committee meeting (we always say these meetings are in Washington, but they're really held at the Crystal City Marriott which lacks some of the charm of other possible venues!) we also discussed some other issues of interest to SIOP members. One of them was the Conference. You surely noticed that we ran out of hotel rooms a little early this year. Well, there's a good chance that we'll have some problems next year too. The problem is that attendance at the SIOP Conference has grown dramatically, and we sign contracts 5 or 6 years before the actual conference. When, 5 or 6 years ago, we suggested we needed to increase our room block at a conference hotel, the hotel management pulled our records from past conferences, and based on the attendance we had 8-10 years ago, wouldn't release a larger block. When we get closer to each conference, the Conference Chair (Ron Johnson has this job right now), goes back to the hotel to ask for more rooms (not often successful since they have already committed other rooms), and seeks back-up hotels in the area where we can get a good rate.

Anyway, the system is imperfect and, although we are trying to plan future conferences a bit better, the truth is that our conference is getting big. We discussed the possibility, down the line, of moving to some different models for the Conference. We could have all the sessions at one hotel, but have two (or more) official "sleeping room" hotels. This is essentially what we are doing already in many cities, but we could actually start out with this model instead of adopting it by default. We could also have sessions at more than one hotel if we needed to, and, eventually, even think about a conference center model. We all recognize the drawbacks of some of these models, but as SIOP grows, it may be necessary. We will do what we can to keep things in one hotel, but shortages such as the one we faced this year may become more common. In any case, I wanted to let you know we ARE thinking about what we can do to make the Conference continue to work in the future. In fact, we are talking to some professional meeting planners to see if they can offer any services to help us, without changing the feel of the Conference. So, again, we are trying to avoid problems in the future but, for all of you who had difficulty finding a room in New Orleans, I want to apologize on behalf of myself and SIOP. We'll try to do better.

We also spent time talking about the future of I-O psychology. There is growing concern that many I-O programs may face real threats in the coming years. Some psychology departments believe that I-O belongs in the business school, rather than the psychology department. Other departments have problems in justifying the kinds of salaries that they need to pay to remain competitive with nonpsychology options. When experimental psychologists, or social psychologists talk about the really strong psychology programs in their fields, they talk about programs at Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. Yet these schools do not have I-O programs, and the list of top I-O programs includes Big Ten schools, Akron and Bowling Green. To the Ivy League trained-mind, graduates from schools such as these can't possibly be paid more than graduates from their schools.

We didn't generate many solutions to the problems, but we are all aware that there may soon be a problem (if there isn't one already). It may be that the SIOP Foundation will be able to help out in this arena as well. Finally, we discussed the future of SIOP-APA relations. Once again, we generated no solutions, but we talked about a number of useful ideas. One notion, that I don't think I ever heard at a SIOP meeting before, was that we should accept the fact that clinicians are going to want to move into I-O areas. Then, rather than fight them, maybe we should TRAIN them! That is, perhaps SIOP should be the body that provides re-tooling for clinicians. Then we can be sure of what kind of training the clinicians will have received, and we may be able to generate some money as well. It IS an interesting idea, and it's also indicative of the fact that SIOP is beginning to think more creatively about this issue, rather than burying its head in the sand.

Well, I think that's about it. As I sit here "writing" this column, I'm faced with the task of giving a presidential address in New Orleans. While I am not generally worried about talking in front of large groups, this is a different kind of large group for me and, I must admit, it has me nervous. And with that address, I will end my term as SIOP President. It has been a great honor to serve as your president, and I'm still not sure there wasn't a mistake in counting the votes when I was elected. I have had the opportunity to work with an incredible group of people, and I especially want to thank Elaine Pulakos for telling me what I needed to know this year, and Nancy Tippins for supporting and guiding me in the things I did actually try to do. I also need to thank the Chairs of every SIOP committee, and the members of those committees who actually get all the work done that made me look good (or at least not bad). Of course, I also need to thank Lee Hakel who has turned the SIOP Administrative Office into an indispensable part of the SIOP machinery. As my colleagues in strategic management would say, she has made that office a critical and non-inimitable source of sustained competitive advantage. Finally, I want to thank all the members of SIOP who support the organization in a hundred different ways and who help make SIOP the kind of organization that anyone would be proud to serve. So, I hope to see you in New Orleans, and remember, if you see me and you have any problems or questionsit won't be my job anymore! Ask Nancy!


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