The Fordham chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society for Psychology, will celebrate its 40-year anniversary December 9, 2023. Since its founding in 1983, the chapter has been expertly advised by Harold Takooshian, Ph.D., Fordham professor of psychology and urban studies, and organizational leadership. The chapter was installed by the legendary George J. McMahon, S.J., the beloved Vice President of Fordham. “Although having a Psi Chi chapter at Fordham isn’t essential, in my experience it absolutely does change people’s lives, including my own,” stated Takooshian. “That is largely true because it is open to and benefits a wide variety of students who participate in our programming from a broad range of Fordham schools and programs: the Graduate School of Education, Gabelli School of Business, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Social Service, the School of Law, and Fordham College at Lincoln Center psychology undergraduates.” He added, “Perhaps the most delightful example of our broad membership was the induction in 2012 of illustrious Fordham Professor Emerita Olivia J. Hooker, at age 97, who became the oldest person ever to join any chapter of the society.”
Fordham GSE is recognized nationally for its division of Psychological and Educational Services (PES), composed of about 20 award-winning faculty—so having a Psi Chi Honor Society chapter fits well within the GSE. Since 1983, the strength of the Fordham chapter has been demonstrated by its receipt of several prestigious awards, including the Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award (1993) from among 950 chapters nationwide, and the Florence L. Denmark Award, twice recognizing Takooshian (1988 and 2010) as the top faculty advisor among chapters on 1,100 U.S. university campuses. In each case, the award namesakes travelled to Fordham to personally make the presentations, Ruth Cousins to Fordham President Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., and in 2010, Florence Denmark to Fordham President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. Professor Takooshian also served as a national officer and international president of Psi Chi (1993-2000). Beginning on its 20th anniversary in 2003, the chapter began recognizing its own alumni, too, and has now presented its Outstanding Achievement Award to 35 Fordham alumni or faculty who have made distinguished contributions to their field.
Throughout its history, the chapter has partnered with many others to arrange over 700 diverse co-curricular activities to benefit the Fordham community and beyond—conferences, workshops, lectures, and service programs. For example, Fordham’s Psi Chi chapter began hosting the annual Greater New York Psi Chi Conference in 1989, to provide an opportunity for Fordham students to share their research and to recognize excellence in student research in psychology and behavioral sciences. Every November, students present their research at the conference, and the chapter also invites outstanding behavioral scientists to participate each year. Some other local colleges and universities have periodically hosted the conference, as well.
Engagement and Programming for Students
More recently, Psi Chi at Fordham hosted more than a dozen global webinars during the 2020-2022 COVID lockdowns, and the chapter partnered with other groups to host several presentations by practicing psychologists for students enrolled in fall 2022 psychology classes. The Fordham chapter president, advanced certificate in bilingual school psychology candidate Maria Vannoni, began this particular project by contacting professors over the summer about their willingness to host professionals who could share expertise during their classes. Vannoni notes that having these speakers in classes was very beneficial to her and other students, particularly because they “helped all of us gain more perspective, not only at a local level, but also at a global one. The speakers addressed meaningful subjects such as trauma after disasters, wrongful convictions, and many other important behavioral sciences topics.”
The specific speaker events and their topics were the following:
- “Global challenges to school psychology.” Leslie L. Popoff, Ph.D. (Past-President, PCUN), Rosanna Mazzaferro, Ph.D. (Fordham), Maria Elisa Vannoni, M.A. (Fordham).
- “Humanitarian relief around the world.” Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., RN, (President, Meaningful World), Rosanna Mazzaferro, Ph.D. (Fordham), Maria Elisa Vannoni, M.A. (Fordham).
- “Behavioral science at the United Nations.” Harold Takooshian, Ph.D. (moderator), Elaine P. Congress, DSW (welcome), Leonard Davidman, Ph.D. (Past-President, NYSPA), Kelly S. O’Donnell, Ph.D. (Geneva), Elaine H. Olaoye, Ph.D. (Brookdale CC), Linda White-Ryan, Ph.D., LCSW (Fordham).
- Tip to the United Nations Church Center, forum on “SPSSI at 75.”
Looking to the Future
What’s next for Psi Chi at Fordham? According to Vannoni, one focus is to create a better way to communicate to all of the Psi Chi chapter members. She has created a monthly MailChimp newsletter and wants to build a broader team of people to be involved in and work on Psi Chi activities. Takooshian, too, wants to try to involve more Fordham students in Psi Chi, and notes the following requirements and benefits: “a B+ average, no ongoing dues, and lifetime membership.” In fact, he added, “Since 1983, over 700 students and faculty have been inducted as life members into Psi Chi’s Fordham chapter. These include undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from all six schools at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, many of whom have gone on to diverse careers in law, medicine, education, social work, psychology, and other fields.”
Vannoni emphasizes, “To me, it’s very important that students understand Psi Chi as a golden opportunity to broadly enrich their professional lives as well as their own personal lives. It opens your world in so many ways.”
About Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology
Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, was founded by two students at Yale University in 1929, with a mission to encourage excellence in scholarship and advance the science of psychology. A few popular Membership Benefits include international recognition for academic excellence as well as access to psychology-related publications and more than $400,000 in annual awards and grants. Over the years, Psi Chi has had a remarkable history and has become the world’s largest honor society in any field, with over 750,000 life members at over 1,150 campuses across the globe.
About the Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award
By recognizing the one chapter each year who best and consistently exemplifies Psi Chi’s purpose, “to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly psychology, and to advance the science of psychology,” the Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award identifies a society role model for other chapters and helps to promote the purpose and mission of Psi Chi. The award honors former Psi Chi Executive Director Ruth Hubbard Cousins for her 33 years of dedicated service to the society.
About the Psi Chi Florence L. Denmark Faculty Advisor Award
The purpose of this annual award is to identify and salute the outstanding faculty advisor in the United States.