V. Krishna Kumar, PhD
Succeeding a line of highly competent presidents and then anticipating other equally competent individuals to succeed you can be an intimidating and anxiety-producing experience. Division presidents often have their own agendas, missions, visions, and themes. When I served as President of the Society for Humanistic Psychology a few years ago, I did come up with a theme for my presidential year—Beyond Maslow, Rogers, and May; we also invited division members through the APA conference portal to submit posters and symposia on this topic. Interestingly, I found that except for my own Presidential address, very few submissions addressed the proposed theme. However, this was not the first time something like this has happened. I have served as a program chair or program co-chair of our division a few times in the past, and very dutifully, we did publish certain themes for those convention programs. However, I learned that people submit their work for consideration and do not worry about the published theme in the annual call for proposals. This is understandable because people typically want to share their current work and not change their line of work with a convention program’s theme. Thus, for this year’s convention, our program chair Frank Farley and I (as co-chair) decided not to publish any themes to let people submit whatever they have been working on. The result I believe is no different both in terms of the number and variety of submissions.
Since 2014 the Central Programming Group (CPG) has organized collaborative programs at the annual conventions which “pull together multiple perspectives on issues significant to psychology and, where relevant, to society at large” (quoted from 2020 Call for Proposals, https://convention.apa.org/proposals/collaborative-programs). As good as the notion of collaborative programming sounds, it takes time away from divisions which should be showcasing the work of their members. In 2019 we were allocated 14 programming hours and in 2020 we received 12—this reduction of 2 hours meant we could not include more symposia or invited addresses by our members. To circumvent this problem, we converted some symposia proposals into posters by permission of their submitters. Also, the CPG has an odd system of requiring the approval of 50% of the divisions which the proposal includes as its sponsor to be forwarded for review by the CPG. This is odd because a proposal may include just two divisions and get away with just one approval to be forwarded to CPG; however, both divisions must vote before a proposal can be forwarded to the CPG. A proposal that lists 6 divisions will need to be approved by at least 3 divisions and must wait to be forwarded to the CPG until all divisions have voted. Even if all listed sponsors approve a proposal, the CPG could still reject it and return it to the primary division for possible inclusion in that division’s program. These rejections and returning of proposals to the primary divisions put our program chairs in an awkward position inasmuch as it makes it hard for them to reject the CPG rejected proposals after approving them to be forwarded to CPG. I am hoping that the Council will suggest the discontinuing of collaborative programing to the APA Board of Convention Affairs so that the divisions can get their programming hours back.
At this time, I want to make a request to our general membership. Every year, we look for people to run for offices and our calls for nominations lead to receiving few nominations, self or otherwise. The Division’s Board members usually work behind the scenes to request people to consider running for offices. Our Society needs more people to run for offices and also need members to work on various committees. It seems only a handful of people usually run the show—so please volunteer—it is your organization.
I have served as the Editor of our Division’s The Amplifier Magazine since 2008 and since we went online in 2013, we have significantly increased our readership. Our immediate Past President Kathryn Stamoulis who has been the Associate Editor of the magazine for over a decade has graciously accepted to co-edit the magazine with me. I would like to extend an open invitation to you to write for The Amplifier Magazine. By writing for the magazine, you are achieving two ends: You are sharing your work and your thoughts with your peers in the field and you are helping your magazine grow.
The COVID-19 crisis continues and its end is not in sight. And, in these difficult times, on May 25, 2020, we witnessed the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd, a Black American, by a white police officer, on media screens, followed by massive protests around the world reminding all of us to take revolutionary action to prevent and end continuing police brutality, senseless killings, and systemic racism in every sphere of life. As the protests continue, we witnessed the killing of yet another Black American Rayshard Brooks on June 12, 2020, by a white police officer. We urgently need to move forward to take constructive steps to end racism because a society that turns against any segment of its’ own peoples is turning against itself.